Luxembourg’s parliamentary election in October brought a new political party in the Chambre des Députés. The Pirate Party managed to get two seats in the new parliament, which was recently sworn in.
In a move to get more financial means and political weight, Pirate MPs Sven Clement and Marc Goergen decided to enter a technical alliance with the ADR (Alternative Democratic Reform Party), which has four seats in parliament.
According to current parliament rules, five seats are necessary to create a political group. Groups get more public funding for their activities, and a representative in the conference of presidents. The funding is an important aspect: more money means more opportunities to rent office space, and pay for personnel. All too often, political groups reward loyal activists or non-elected candidates by employing them through the political group.
The group is referred to as a “technical group”, since the parties only associate for mere practical convenience, and not for reasons of political association. The ADR had previously attempted to create such a technical alliance with the left-wing party déi Lénk, which had refused on the grounds of political divergence between the two parties.
The Pirates and the ADR don’t share talking points either, but they surely share the ambition of receiving more importance in the legislature. However, establishment parties have criticised both parties for the move. Socialist group leader Alex Bodry (LSAP) says that it is strange that the Pirates allow themselves to be represented by Fernand Kartheiser (ADR) in the conference of presidents. Kartheiser is a controversial figure in Luxembourg, notably for his opposition to abortion.
Establishment parties are upset by the group creation because they feel that it artificially increases the importance of these two dwarf-parties, while some public criticism is aimed at the increase in public expenses caused by this alliance. This sentiment arises out the political reality in Luxembourg: MPs are not representing their constituencies or themselves, but are rather spokespeople of their own parties. There is no system of backbenchers rebelling against party establishment, but rather a group dynamic.
Parliament doesn’t treat MPs as individuals, and as a result small parties such as the Pirates and the ADR create alliances such as these to make up for lost influence.
This article was first published by the Luxembourg Times.
Pictures are Creative Commons.
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