Government

Composition

The government is composed of a president bearing the title of Prime Minister, and several members holding the title of minister. It may also include one or several members with the title of 'Minister Delegate' or Secretary of State.

The text of the Constitution allows the Grand Duke the freedom to choose his ministers who are his trusted men and women and who exercise executive power with him.

In practice, however, the Grand Duke is limited in his choice by democratic principle, which requires that the ministers not only have his confidence, but also that of the parliamentary majority. According to custom, the Grand Duke only chooses a Prime Minister who, in view of the election result, is able to put together a government that will win the support of the parliamentary majority. As a general rule, he chooses leading figures of the political groups represented in the Chamber of Deputies. However, nothing can stop him from using technicians with no well-defined political affiliations, if required.

Ministers must have the Luxembourg nationality. Their roles are incompatible with those of magistrate, member of the Court of Auditors, State Councillor, Member of Parliament and Municipal Councillor.

The duration of the ministerial duties is not determined. In theory, the Grand Duke may remove his ministers at any time, but in practice, again taking into account modern democratic practice, he does not make use of this right.

It is also customary for the government to resign the day after the legislative elections and for the Grand Duke to ask the outgoing government to manage day-to-day business until the next government is sworn into office, after the elections.

If none of the political parties represented in the Chamber has an absolute majority, a coalition government is formed. The political parties called upon to be represented in government agree, during negotiations that can be laborious, on a common government programme and on the distribution of ministerial departments.

The new Prime Minister appointed by the Grand Duke is given the task of organising the government, of presiding over it, coordinating its general policy and ensuring coordination between the ministerial departments.

Ministerial responsibility

As a general rule, the Constitution provides that ministers are responsible. Ministerial responsibility is inseparable from the Grand Duke's  irresponsibility. For an act issued by the Grand Duke to come into force, it must be countersigned by a member of the government who assumes full responsibility for it.

Before the Chamber of Deputies, ministers are responsible for the acts which they carry out themselves, either individually or collectively. If the Chamber disapproves of the policy of one or several ministers or of the entire government, it shall express its disagreement, either via a negative vote on a specific agenda proposed by the government, or by rejecting a government bill presented by the ministers. By refusing to adopt the annual budget, the Chamber may put the government in a position whereby it is impossible to manage public affairs.

In the worst case, when the Chamber of Deputies withdraws its confidence (motion of censure) in the ministers, the political responsibility of ministers obliges them to resign. It is customary for a minister to resign after a first hostile from the Chamber of Deputies.

Under the Constitution, only the Chamber may indict ministers. Accusations made against ministers for acts committed during the performance of their duties are brought before the Supreme Court of Justice, sitting in full court. In order to prevent the criminal liability of ministers from becoming illusory, the Constitution provides for an exception to the Grand Duke's right to pardon by providing that a minister who has been sentenced may only be pardoned at the Chamber's request.

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