Luxembourg’s two largest parties reached a final accord on forming a new government yesterday evening.
Luc Frieden, a conservative and former finance minister, takes office on Friday as prime minister. Frieden had left politics in 2013, but returned to lead his party in October’s elections.
Xavier Bettel of the liberal Democratic Party (DP), who served as prime minister for the last ten years, is now foreign minister and deputy prime minister.
His appointment surprises some since Bettel, who is popular in Brussels, was reportedly seeking a top post there.
Cabinet ministers, reduced by two from the previous government, are divided with eight for the CSV, which won 21 of the legilsature’s 60 seats, and seven for the Democratic Party, which came second with 14.
“I think I’ve managed to strike a balance, a harmony between the people”, Frieden says about his new cabinet.
“I was spoilt for choice” and “tried to take into account a number of criteria, including of course the geographical distribution between the constituencies, a specific feature of Luxembourg, age, gender and expertise in certain areas”, he adds.
“And I believe that I have succeeded in putting together, DP ministers included, a consistent government team to prepare the country’s future”, he says.
After leaving politics, Frieden went on to work for Deutsche Bank, followed by the law firm Elvinger Hoss Prussen.
He then served as president of Banque Internationale à Luxembourg and later as head of the Chamber of Commerce.
Frieden was viewed as a grey figure, but won against a progressive coalition that struggled with the energy crisis, housing, and health.
Voters blamed Greens for failures in these areas, with the party losing around half its votes.
Observers point to a wider trend across Europe, where Greens overperformed in the previous election cycle and less well in recent elections.
In neighbouring Germany and Belgium, voters also have blamed Greens for closing nuclear power plants, as the energy crisis worsens.