Opposition lawmakers blast 'meagre' Bettel speech
Luxembourg's lawmakers took a dim view of the annual 'State of the Nation' speech delivered by prime minister Xavier Bettel on Tuesday.
Alex Bodry, parliamentary leader for the Luxembourgish Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP) – a member of the governing coalition – said the speech was "non-polemical" and based on facts, emphasising the sound state of Luxembourg's public finances.
While he conceded Luxembourg faced many structural problems, he argued that their origins lied with previous governments and said the prime minister's failure to address many of these policy areas in his speech had been standard procedure.
"You have to make a choice," he said.
Eugène Berger, group leader for the DP, also defended the prime minister, arguing that Bettel's ideas for the future were relatively sparse because "we are at the end of a legislative period".
However, for Claude Wiseler, leader of the main opposition party, the Christian Social People's Party (CSV), the State of the Nation speech was "the worst of recent years", lacking any sense of vision.
"I did not expect much, but this was even worse because I found nothing of substance."
He said he expected Bettel to describe the perspectives and great challenges of the future and lay out his ideas.
"I didn't see the prime minister responding to people's daily worries," he said.
"Living, mobility in detail, health policy, retirement policy or long-term care insurance – all questions that are relevant today. None of it was present."
For Gast Gibéryen, Member of Parliament for the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR), the speech was nothing more than electioneering.
It was a historically short speech at 40 minutes – that was the only pleasant thing about itMarc Baum
"We all know we are six months ahead of the parliamentary elections, and I expected the prime minister to speak well. He did that brilliantly, patting himself and his government on the back for more than 40 pages.
"[You would think you couldn't] find a dissatisfied person in Luxembourg anymore. Everything is alright – things couldn't be better. "
He also criticised the prime minister for failing to address the concerns of many people in the country.
"In this legislature, the prices of apartments have risen by 25%, more than ever, the traffic situation has become more dramatic than ever, the issue of pensions and whether future generations will be able to receive pensions – none of these problems were addressed.
"If the prime minister wanted to make a speech today ... it was good, but it certainly was not a speech on the state of the nation."
Marc Baum of déi Lénk (the Left) also took Bettel to task for his lack of "problem awareness".
"It was a historically short speech at 40 minutes – that was the only pleasant thing about it. The premier was proceeding according to the motto: 'If you have nothing to say, you should at least make it short'."
He criticised the prime minister for failing to address the increasing risk of poverty or the housing issue.
"The government's record here is very meagre," he said. "There does not even seem to be a hint of problem awareness in the government."