Visiting the Chamber of Deputies' Building, Luxembourg City: Seat of Parliamentary Institutions for the Grand Duchy
Ornate frontage to less action than meets the eye?
This fine building in Luxembourg City dates from 1858-1860. It architect was Antoine Hartmann, who is acknowledged to have worked in a neo-Renaissance, neo-Gothic and neo-Classical styles.
Prior to this time, the Grand Duchy's parliamentary deputies met in what is now known as the Grand Ducal Palace, located adjacent to this building.
For many decades, elections to the Chamber of Deputies have been dominated by the Christian Social People's Party (CVP)(French: Parti populaire chrétien social ; Letzebuergesch Chrëschtlech Sozial Vollekspartei ). This has undoubtedly brought some measure of stability — as opposed to buoyancy — to the country's parliamentary culture. But an undoubted consequence to this has also been that the chamber of deputies has less of a focus for real decision-making and debate. In fact, only a few years of the past several decades has the CVP not been the leading party of government. For example, if the result of elections is almost a foregone conclusion, then the real scope for influence on the part of individual deputies is somewhat diminished. Several of Luxembourg's Prime Ministers have been long-serving, which has served to strengthen the power of the government. For example, Joseph Bech was head of government from 1926 to 1937 and from 1953 until 1958. Pierre Werner was Prime Minister from 1959 until 1974 and again from 1979 until 1984. The current Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, has been serving continuously in that office since 1995. All of these gentlemen have headed CSV-led governments (1). Thus. whatever the theory, in practice, the sense of continuity and predictability in political affairs tends to be so strong that the function of the Chamber of Deputies may be said sometimes to be not much more than a formality.
The address of the Chamber of Deputies is 19, rue du Marché-aux-Herbes (Letzebuergesch: Krautmaart ). Interestingly, the Letzebuergesch form of the address is sometimes employed to refer to the Chamber of Deputies itself.
It might be added that in the dark years of Nazi German occupation from 1940 to 1944, the parliamentary function of the Chamber of Deputies, under Luxembourg's constitution went into abeyance; the legal government of the day, led by Pierre Dupong, together with reigning Grand Duchess Charlotte, went into exile.
(1) Monsieur Bech's first government was of the Party of the Right (French: Parti de la droite ; Letzebuergesch: Rietspartei) which, after World War Two, was reconstituted as the CVP.
Addendum: In 2013, the CVP, still the largest party, left government office for decades, although the incoming Liberal-led government pledged to continue many of the outgoing government's policies, particularly with regard to the European Union.
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How to get there: The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg Airport (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel, from where car rental is available. For North American travellers who make the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Luxembourg include Luxair (from London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport) and CityJet (from London City Airport). You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.