Today the country is governed by a constitutional monarchy Constitutional Monarchy, headed by a Grand Duke. It is the only Grand Duchy in the world.
Luxembourg is one of the founding countries of the European Union, thanks in particular to the action of Robert Schuman, a native of Luxembourg through his mother. Today, Luxembourg is home to several European institutions and attracts a very international population.
History of Luxembourg
The capital of Luxembourg takes its name from a small castle, Lucilinburhuc, located on the Bock rock. Acquired by Count Sigefroi in 963, the small fort dominating the Alzette Valley gave birth to the Comtee of Luxembourg. See below the legend of Melusine.
Count Henry VII became king in 1308, then crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1312. His son John the Blind, the originator of the Schueberfouer, became King of Bohemia.
In 1354, his descendant Charles IV raised the County of Luxembourg to the rank of Duchy. Thanks to numerous territorial gatherings, the County of Luxembourg occupies a vast territory between the Meuse and the Moselle. In 1364, it reached an area of 10,000 square meters.
After Sigismund’s death in 1437 and for lack of a male heir, Luxembourg passed into the hands of the Burgundians in 1443, with the annexation of the Duke of Burgundy, Philippe le Bon. Luxembourg then became a province of the Netherlands and had a destiny linked to this kingdom.
Passed to the hands of the Habsburgs of Spain in 1555, the south of Luxembourg, including the city of Thionville, was ceded to France by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. Besieged by the troops of Louis XIV in 1684, the city of Luxembourg also passed to France. It was at this time that the Vauban fortifications were built.
In 1697, the County passed back to Spain, whose War of Succession gave Luxembourg to Austria in 1715. The fortress was returned to France after the blockade by the troops of the Revolution in 1795. Luxembourg became the Department of Forests under the reign of Napoleon. In 1798, the Cane War, “Klëppelkrich” against the generalized military service took place. The Napoleonic Code was introduced in 1804.
In 1815, the Congress of Vienna created the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and granted it to William I, King of the Netherlands. Luxembourg is dismantled. The territories are attributed to Prussia.
With the Treaty of London in 1839, Luxembourg acquired its independence and its current form, a part being given to Belgium (the province of Belgian Luxembourg).
Luxembourg adopted a constitution in 1848.
In 1867, with a new Treaty of London, Luxembourg acquired the status of a perpetually neutral and independent state. The fortress was dismantled and the Prussian garrisons left the territory.
In 1890, Luxembourg obtained its own dynasty with the accession to the throne of Grand Duke Adolphe de Nassau-Weilbourg.
As can be seen, the original fortress was strengthened over the centuries and the attackers. It became the “Gibraltar of the North”, protected by 3 fortified belts and 24 forts. An immense network of 23 km of underground galleries dug in the rock, sheltered the soldiers and the horses. It was especially useful for surviving assaults thanks to the underground kitchens, bakeries and slaughterhouses. Following the independence of Luxembourg in 1839, the fortress was evacuated and dismantled. The fortifications were razed in 1867, to be replaced by new developments such as the Municipal Garden.
“Mir wölle bleiwe wat mir sin” – “We want to remain what we are
The motto of Luxembourg testifies to its desire for independence from the countries that have annexed it and its desire to preserve its national identity
Legend of Melusine
Melusine was the wife of the Count of Sigefroi, founder of the City of Luxembourg.
Legend has it that Count Sigefroi was seduced by the voice of a beautiful young girl, Melusine, during a bear hunt in the “Bockfiels”, among the ruins of an old castle. He fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. This one accepted on the condition that she would never leave the place and that he would never spy on her.
They settled there and were happy until the day when Count Sigefroi, curious to see what his wife was doing when she was alone, spied on her through the keyhole. He then saw her lying in her bath, combing her long hair, with a fishtail instead of legs.
Betrayed, Melusine disappeared in the Alzette river.
Legend has it that she reappears every 7 years, in the form of a snake, waiting for someone to free her from her spell. To do this, you will have to take a key in your mouth and throw it into the Alzette.
While waiting for her deliverance, she sewed a shirt, adding a stitch every 7 years. When the shirt is finished, Melusine will be released from her spell, but all the inhabitants of Luxembourg will disappear with her.
The statue of Melusine can be seen on the banks of the Alzette, at the very spot where she is said to have disappeared into its waters.
From the point of view of Luxembourg is a sovereign and independent state. It is a parliamentary democracy in the form of a constitutional monarchy. The crown is hereditary in the Nassau-Weilbourg family.
The national holiday is June 23, the symbolic day of the Grand Duke’s birthday.
The legislative power
Legislative power is shared between the Chamber of Deputies, the government and the Council of State.
The Chamber of Deputies
The Chamber of Deputies debates and votes on laws. It can also propose laws. The parliamentary commission for the control of budget execution, chaired by a member of the opposition, has a right of review over the management of the state.
There are 60 deputies. They are elected for 5 years by universal suffrage, by proportional representation.
The last legislative elections were held in October 2018.
In the assembly, the political parties represented are :
- Christian Social People’s Party (CSV): 21 seats. Almost all of Luxembourg’s prime ministers are from the CSV (Chrëschtlech-Sozial Vollekspartei), except for Gaston Thorn (Prime Minister from 1974 to 1979) and Xavier Bettel (Prime Minister since 2013), both from the DP (Demokratische Partei). Jean-Claude Juncker, CSV, was Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013. He left his position to become President of the European Commission from 2014 to 2019. The CSV is close to the Republicans in France and the CDU in Germany.
- Democratic Party (DP): 12 seats. The DP is a centrist party with a liberal tendency. The DP is a member of the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats. Xavier Bettel, the current Prime Minister, comes from this party.
- Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP): 10 seats. The LSAP (Lëtzebuerger Sozialistesch Aarbechterpartei) participated in coalition governments in 1974-1979 and since 2013. LSAP is a member of the Party of European Socialists.
- The Greens (déi gréng): 9 seats. The green party was for the 1st time in power with the coalition government of Xavier Bettel in 2013.
- Alternativ Demokratesch Reformpartei (ADR): 4 seats. The ADR is a conservative party with populist tendencies. He is a member of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists.
- dei Lénk: 2 seats. Member of the European Left Party
- the Pirate party: 2 seats. Party in the line of the European Pirate parties, it advocates democracy through the transparency of the state and civil rights.
The government has a right of legislative initiative through bills.
The Council of State
The Council of State is composed of 21 councillors, appointed and dismissed by the Grand Duke on the basis of proposals made alternately by the government, the Chamber of Deputies and the Council of State.
It gives its opinion on the bills and proposals presented to the House before the deputies vote. In particular, it examines the conformity of texts with the Constitution, the various international conventions and general principles of law.
The Executive Branch
Executive power is exercised jointly by the Grand Duke and the government
The Head of State, the Grand Duke
The Grand Duke is the Head of State, but his person is inviolable. It cannot be held liable. He cannot be charged or prosecuted. He promulgates the laws in the collection of legislation called Memorial. Laws are countersigned by a Minister, responsible for the relevant ministerial portfolio. Any act bearing the signature of the Grand Duke must first be submitted to the deliberation of the Council of Government.
In 1890, Luxembourg obtained its own dynasty with the accession to the throne of Grand Duke Adolphe de Nassau-Weilburg.
After William IV, his son, it was his granddaughter, Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde, who ascended the throne in 1912 at the age of 17. Following reproaches for her attitude during the invasion of German troops during the First World War, she abdicated in 1919. in favor of his sister, the Grand Duchess Charlotte.
During his reign, the country was again invaded by German troops during the Second World War. Not wishing to submit, the Grand Duchess and her government went into exile in London. Luxembourg was liberated in June 1944 by American troops.
Grand Duke Jean succeeded his mother in 1964, following the abdication of Grand Duchess Charlotte.
His Royal Highness, the Grand Duke Henri himself succeeded his father, the Grand Duke Jean in October 2000. Since then, he occupies the throne with his wife, Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa, a native of Cuba.
The Crown Grand Duke is Prince William, their eldest son, accompanied by his wife the Crown Grand Duchess, Princess Stephanie of Belgian origin.
The Luxembourg government
Following the legislative elections, every 5 years, the Grand Duke appoints an informant, in charge of proposing a government. In fact, the informant often becomes Prime Minister and Head of Government. He is appointed by the Grand Duke.
The government consists of several ministers, appointed by the Grand Duke on the basis of proposals from the Prime Minister. The government is responsible for drafting legislation. Each minister is entrusted with one or more ministries.
The government resulting from the 2018 elections is a coalition government, between the DP (Demokratische Partei), the LSAP (Lëtzebuerger Sozialistesch Aarbechterpartei) and the environmentalist dei Gréng party.
Despite a majority number of seats obtained in the last elections in 2013 and 2018, the CSV (Chrëschtlech-Sozial Vollekspartei – Christian Social People’s Party), in power for almost 35 years, is once again in opposition. Jean-Claude Juncker, its representative, was Prime Minister for 19 years and left his position following his appointment as President of the European Commission in 2013.
The Prime Minister is Xavier Bettel, from the Democratic Party (DP)
- Xavier Bettel (DP), Prime Minister since December 2013 and Minister of State. He is also in charge of Communication and Media, Cults, Digitalization and Administrative Reform,
- Paulette Lenert (LSAP), Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Consumer Protection, Minister of Health and Minister Delegate for Social Security.
- François Bausch (dei Greng) Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of Mobility and Public Works,
- Jean Asselborn (LSAP), Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Minister for Immigration and Asylum
- Claude Meisch (DP), Minister of National Education, Children and Youth, Minister of Higher Education and Research,
- Corinne Cahen (DP), Minister for Family and Integration, Minister for the Greater Region
- Joëlle Welfring (Déi Gréng), Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development
- Marc Hansen, Minister for the Civil Service, Minister for Relations with Parliament, Minister Delegate for Digitalisation, Minister Delegate for Administrative Reform
- Claude Turmes (), Minister of Energy, Minister of Regional Planning
- Sam Tanson (dei Greng), Minister of Justice, Minister of Culture
- Taina Bofferding (LSAP), Minister for Equality between Men and Women, Minister of the Interior
- Lex Delles (DP), Minister of Tourism, Minister of Middle Classes
- Henri Kox, Minister of Internal Security, Minister of Housing
- Franz Fayot (LSAP), Minister of Economy, Minister of Cooperation and Humanitarian Action
- Claude Hagen (LSAP), Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, Minister of Social Security
- Georges Engel (LSAP), Minister of Sports, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Economy
- Yuricko Backes (DP), Minister of Finance.
The Judicial Branch
The judiciary is completely independent. The courts and tribunals are charged by the Constitution with the exercise of judicial power.
The members of the Public Prosecutor’s Office are headed by the State Attorney General.
The Constitutional Court
It is composed of 9 members and is based in Luxembourg. It rules on the conformity of laws with the Constitution.
Justice of the Peace
They are the first level of the judicial system. They are located in Luxembourg, Diekirch and Esch-sur-Alzette.
They are competent for civil and commercial matters of lesser importance, provided that the subject matter of the dispute does not exceed 10,000 euros and in the last resort up to 750 euros.
They also have jurisdiction over leases and wage garnishments, regardless of the amounts involved.
They sit in Luxembourg and Diekirch and are competent in civil and commercial matters for all cases not assigned to another court.
They are also competent in criminal matters up to imprisonment of at least 8 days or fines of more than 250 euros. They are competent in criminal cases for life imprisonment or more than 5 years.
They have appellate jurisdiction in cases handled by the Justice of the Peace, where the subject matter of the dispute exceeds 750 euros.
The Youth and Guardianship Court tries youth protection cases.
The Superior Court of Justice
It is composed of a Court of Cassation and a Court of Appeal.
Luxembourg, founding country of the European Union and capital of Europe
Luxembourg is one of the 6 founding members of the European Union. It has seen some of its citizens become illustrious figures. Among them was Robert Schuman, born in Luxembourg in 1886 and one of the “founding fathers” of Europe with the creation of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) in 1951.
In 1952, the city of Luxembourg was the first place of work for the Community institutions.
In 1957, the creation of the European Economic Community by Jean Monnet marked a further step towards a supranational European organization. Initially founded by Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, it was gradually expanded to include other countries. The European Union now has 27 countries.
The Luxembourg capital, Luxembourg , becamethe European capital in 1986 following the merger of the European institutions, along with Brussels and Strasbourg.
The city of Luxembourg is now home to the headquarters of several European institutions and bodies. These include the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and several services of the European Commission. There is also talk of the European district in the Kirchberg area.
Today, Luxembourg residentsinclude more than 14,000 European civil servants, including 3,700 for the European Commission.
In 2020, a mini-earthquake shakes the European world. Chafea, the Executive Agency for Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food, is leaving the Gasperich district where it has been operating for over 10 years. 80 people leave the Grand Duchy. Relocated to Brussels and may be dissolved.
For some, this could be a sign thatLuxembourg is gradually losing its status as the capital of the European Union, while the presence of the European institutions was acquired until 2015. It is also known that many European civil servants are now reluctant to come to Luxembourg. Despite an undeniable quality of life, Luxembourg unfortunately has too high rents and traffic problems.
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