Politics of Van Luxemburg
The politics of Van Luxemburg take place on numerous levels. Whilst there is a national government, the federal system means that the numerous regions also have considerable influence on daily life within each of the regions. The structure for this is laid out in the constitution, the basis of which was laid in 1846. Van Luxemburg is recognized as an example of strong Consociationalism.
The national multi-party system also feeds down into the regions, with the addition of local parties. Most of the multi-party system has however been dominated by three parties, being LDG (liberal democrats), DCP (centrists) and SDP (social democrats). The addition of the radical PFD in recent years has however significantly changed the landscape and generally moved the state to a more interventionist and somewhat right wing policy.
- 1 Constitution
- 2 National government
- 3 Federal System
- 4 Municipal government
- 5 Policy
The first Van Luxemburger constitution was adopted in 1846, when Michel Senneville (who is often regarded as the father of the current state of Van Luxemburg) introduced it to end the 100 Years’ War. For most, the 10 Ground Rules of Senneville (the first 10 articles of the constitution) are regarded as the most important part of the text. These include a bill of rights (including civil liberties), a statement towards the equality of man, and rules on how the relation between the monarchy, the national government and the various regions should function.
The primary court to handle constitutional law is the Senneville Court in Levallois, even though it is common that cases are not brought before this court directly. Rather, existing court cases are suggested for judicial review on the unconstitutionality of particular laws. A ruling by the Supreme Court in Luxembourg may only be affected by a decision by the Senneville court regarding the constitutionality of the underlying legal principles used in the decision of the Supreme Court.
Head of State
The Head of State in Van Luxemburg has traditionally been the Grand Duke and the constitution defines the Head of State as being a descendant of the Annabeek-Witzelsbach family lineage, either male or female. The current Head of State is Grand Duke Konrad II of Van Luxemburg. The current Grand Duke tends to reside at Chateau Bertrange, about 15 km outside of the capital of Luxembourg.
Since the 1846 constitution, the Grand Duke no longer has any real executive power, and only has the possibility to sign laws into effect following approval by both the Nationalzemmer and Zweete Zemmer (senate and parliament, respectively). Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Head of State to assemble a government, however in practice this is done by parliament and only the final result is presented to the monarch in order to be confirmed and sworn in. The Head of State used to be responsible for the dismissal of the government under the pre-1963 constitution reforms, however this has since been amended such that a two-thirds majority of the Nationalzemmer (senate) needs to approve the dismissal, before this can be signed by the head of state. Furthermore, the Head of State is expected to be apolitical and thus does not preside over meetings of either the senate or parliament, nor is he expected or allowed to make any political statements. The prime minister prior to release always screens speeches of the Head of State, and official visits to foreign states either are of solely ceremonial importance, or must be accompanied by government representatives.
Popular debate has brought up the theoretical possibility of the Head of State refusing to sign a law into effect, or refusing to swear in a new government, however experts have pointed out that this will probably result in the Head of State being (temporarily) deposed by the Nationalzemmer and the Council of State replacing him as Head of State, then reinstating him (or electing to instate the heir to the throne instead).
Head of Government
Effectively, the Head of Government (commonly referred to as Premier) heads the executive branch of the government of Van Luxemburg. It is common practice that the candidate for the largest party in the ZZ after the elections is assigned the task for forming a new government, thus also becoming prime minister. A mediator generally supports him in the early stages of the formation process, in order to broker a working relationship with a new coalition of parties.
During his tenure, the prime minister is the most important government representative and is thus also responsible for representing the Grand Duchy on the international scene. Throughout his government, the Premier resides at his official residence in Grünewald, a wealthy suburb of the city of Luxembourg, and holds office in the Ministry for General Affairs, a stone’s throw away from the Demokrätiepalast. During this period, the prime minister is expected to attend the weekly meetings of the Cabinet, appear in parliament for questions and meet with the Grand Duke every two weeks. Furthermore, the Premier is expected to attend meetings of the Maredoratic League at least once a month, given his responsibility as a host country. Whilst these requirements are informal and not set in stone, the concept is generally adhered to, unless
The tenure of the head of government is four years, and elections will take place at these intervals. Following an election, it is common that the defunct head of government remains in power ad interim until the new government has taken office. During this period, the government will not put forward any new initiatives and rather handle only existing files.
The Cabinet of Ministers, or Executive Council, is made up of the ministers representing the 12 main ministries. It is however common that there are more than 12 ministers; a number of ministers will represent major policy fields within larger ministries. For example, the Ministry for Housing and the Environment has both a Minister for Housing and a Minister for the Environment, even though they are served by the same office and the same ministry.
The Executive Council officially has meetings every week at the Demokrätiepalast, and joins the Premier in his parliamentary question session every two weeks. The ministers separately will attend debates that require input from their policy field, during which most of the other ministers will not be in attendance.
Each Ministry represented within the Cabinet also has a number of secretaries of state, in order to subdivide or represent lesser policy fields. The Ministry for Transport and Traffic thus has a Secretary for Roadways, one for Aviation, one for Railways, one for Shipping and one for Public Transport. These secretaries of state however do not commonly join in Executive Council meetings, but instead join when required.
The national legislature is made up of two chambers: the Nationalzemmer, which serves as upper house, and the Zweete Zemmer, functioning as lower house. The Van Luxemburger system is commonly regarded as near-perfect bicameralism, with the Nationalzemmer having almost equal rights to the Zweete Zemmer.
The Nationalzemmer (English: National Chamber), the upper house of the legislature, consists of 500 seats which are divided proportionally to each region. The Nationalzemmer is unique in Maredoratica in the sense that regular citizens above 18 years of age may be called up to serve in it, as civic duty. There are numerous preconditions in order to be considered (participants must be registered within the country, pass a Staatsveeligheet (State Security) screening and must not have a criminal record listing convictions for serious offences, for instance), however when called up, the participant is required to serve in the Nationalzemmer for at least a year. The maximum term one is allowed to serve is four years.
In order to guarantee a representative make-up of the Nationalzemmer, new candidates are chosen based on their place of residence; when a member resigns from his position, a candidate from the same region must replace him/her. Re-allocation based on population is generally done every 10 years, during which the most senior members of the NZ are asked to vacate their regional positions if a re-allocation is necessary. New members are chosen from the eligible pool of participants by means of a lottery, meaning that every region maintains a lottery system for eligible participants.
The system has existed since the early inception of the country's parliamentary system; in the 19th century members were required to move to Luxembourg for the duration of their term and were paid a government stipend in order to pay for all their expenses whilst residing in Luxembourg and covering for the lost income in their home town. Special boarding houses existed to serve particularly these members of the NZ. From 1870, the Grand Duke stipulated that these boarding houses had to be guarded by the Staatsveeligheet (State Security) as lobbyists were found to be active and used aggressive practices to make NZ members vote in favour of particular processes. Harsh punishments for bribery (including imprisonment and seizing of property), as well as a mandatory public lobbying register have since been instated in order to reduce the effects of influencing actions of NZ members.
Since the 20th century, it has been possible for NZ members to vote from home, with the advent of quicker telecommunications and the internet. It is increasingly rare that the full 500-seat Nationalzemmer is present in Luxembourg at any one time, with up to 80% of NZ members using distance voting in the late 2000s, with an increasing number making use of the internet to cast their vote. Members are given special identification devices in order to make sure that possible voter fraud is eliminated; In earlier years, this required the casting of a vote at a notary. The state differentiates between Boarding and Residential voters, paying them different stipends for their services: A Boarding member is expected to be living in Luxembourg or in its immediate vicinity, and has thus left his home for his NZ duties, and is therefore paid a stipend of ƒ80,000 annually. Residential voters are paid considerably less, as they are thought not to have left their residence for their new responsibilities. The residential stipend is therefore limited to ƒ20,000.