Sven Clement is a Luxembourgish politician and MP of the Pirate Party Luxembourg.
AMCHAM LUXEMBOURG: Please introduce yourself to our audience so they better understand who you are.
Sven Clement, Pirate Party:
Hi my name is Sven Clement, I’m 34 years old and I am one of two Pirate MPs in the Luxembourgish Parliament. I’m one of the founders of the Luxembourgish Pirate Party which we decided to build on a crazy day in October 2009. In my free time I am volunteer for the Volley-Club Belair and the FLVB [*Ed. Note: Fédération Luxembourgeoise de Volleyball] as well as a member of the Guiden a Scouten ONGD [*Ed. Note: NGO].
What are the personal values that drive your decision making?
For me decision-making is about creating a transparent political system in which everyone can participate. Decision-making is also about taking responsibility for your actions and openly communicating about them. How can you expect someone to accept and share your projets and ideas if you don’t give them all the information and develop projects behind closed doors?
Why did you decide to become a politician?
I became politicized right from the 7th grade in Aline Mayrisch, where I worked with a very political student committee for more peace and better conditions for students. Even during my studies I did not let go of my commitment, so in 2009 I co-founded the Pirate Party in Luxembourg and became its first president. I did not want to leave modern politics to people who did no longer understand the digital environment.
What were your objectives in forming the Pirate Party?
As I said, we did not want to leave modern politics to people who no longer understood the digital environment. We all shared a certain “Aufbruchstimmung” [Ed. Note: Spirit of optimism/aspirational mindset”]. Someone finally needed to adress the issues of the 21st century.
Are you satisfied with your voter standing and, if not, what are you doing to become more popular?
I can say that I am quite satisfied with the feedback we get from our candidates, our members and citizens in general. Seeing as our polling results have been stable and quite high – a tripling of our seats in Parliament seems possible** – I can only express my gratitude for the support of our members and citizens. As a political Party we always strive for more, so we try the reach as many people as we can through our plattforms, to inform them on our Party and the subjects close to heart.
** this interview was conducted prior to the legislative elections of 2023
Were you satisfied with how the current coalition has handled the Covid crisis?
I am happy to have been part of a country where all the Covid law texts were voted on in Parliament. However I cannot accept the fact, that the government is completely opaque when it comes to the Covid vaccine contracts. The citizens of the EU have a right to know under which conditions these contracts were accepted.
As a Party we also never voted in favour of a text which established the curfew or kept it in place. For us, this was a disproportionnal restriction of the freedom of movement and it is up until this day not been proven that it had any effect on the sanitary situation.
Have you been satisfied with how the coalition has handled the post Covid economic recovery?
Luxembourg did have a lot of programs to help the firms during the pandemic. Some of them are every very important like the “chômage partiel” which kept a lot of people in their jobs. Other people were also important but there was way to much administrative paperwork for people to get the help. For us as Pirates, the help should have been less bureaucratic and thus faster distributed.
What are the five major issues impacting Luxembourg you are most concerned about and how do you think they can best be solved?
For me the five major issues are:
- The housing crisis is one of the major issues of our country. The current and last coalitions did nothing to stop the surging of housing prices. More and more people have to leave their country because of it. We as Pirates propose multiple steps to tackle the housing crsis on all the diffrent levels. We need more state-owned land where we build higher up and which we need to keep in state hands. We as Pirates propose for example, that the Pension Fund could help finance some of these land acquisitions in order to secure rentability of the Fund; and lend out apartments for 10€/m2. We also want to change the law on rents in order to ensure that companies have more means to get workers into company housing. These workers would have a place to live and the company would have the right to re-rent the lodging after a short amount of time if the working contract comes to an end.
- Climate crisis is not a Luxembourgish but a worldwide problem. We as Luxembourg are still second on the list to reach Overshoot Day. We as Pirates demand that the government creates more incentives for people to save energy. We proposed a climate bonus instead of a CO2 tax in order to reward people instead of punishing them.
- More and more people fall into poverty, more and more people are working poor. The rise of poverty seems not be an issue for the current governement as most social projects are always distributed with a scattershot approach, instead of targeting those who really need it. We as Pirates stand for social policies that help those in need and give population the freedom of choice. We would automate things like the crédit d’impôt monoparental in order to ensure that people that have a right for that help, get the help. We would also finally reform our fiscal system as to stop people from needing to get married in order to save money.
- Mobility. Because of our economical succes, Luxembourgs street are overflowed with cars everyday. In order to reduce the amount of vehicules on our streets, we as Pirates want to promote home office where ever possible as well as co-working spaces or satellite offices closer to the borders. This would reduce traffic in our cities and give back quality of live to its inhabitants as well as the cross-border workers.
- “Politikverdrossenheit” [the fatigue when it comes to politics]. We as Pirates believe that a democratic state need citizens’ participation. If you give people a platform, a place to express their concerns, their ideas and their hopes and you take action accordingly as a political class, you can rebuild the trust in politics that has disappeared in recent years. A big step towards that is of course being more transparent when something doesn’t go according to plan. For example in the SuperDreckKëscht case.
What are five things you think the current coalition has done well during its mandate
For me the current coalition did well when they:
– reworked the gun laws in Luxembourg
– made public transport for free – a point the Pirates had already asekd for in 2013
– made it possible to marry outside of the Town Hall
– put out subsidiaires for electric cars, and finally,
– reformed the “statut” for municipal officials, as this put a bit less work on police officers
What are five things you think the current coalition has done badly and how would you have done them differently?
Only 5? 😉
A big disappointment was surely the promised but not done fiscal reform. We as Pirates still strive for a fiscal reform that stopps differentiating people on the basis of their social status (married, single,…).
A big subject in 2021 was also the reform of our Constitution. The coalition parties had all promised a referendum on the text but seemed to have had lost confidence in the voters. We as Pirates called for a referendum, we had a website, matbestëmmung.lu, where people could express their support for a referendum and we asked all our members to vote yes or no on the text. And the constitution got a large support form them – all four chapters receoved more than 75% yes votes. So we would have trusted the people to take informed decisions and put up a referendum on the new constitution.
Stagnation on subects like cannabis, the birthing house, MRIs… the Health Ministry had two years prior to and now a year after Covid to work on all these dossiers. Yet nothing seems to have been done and people who want to bring our country forward, who have ideas are blocked and slowed down like the midwifes who wanted to accomodate patients in a separate house. We as Pirates would find solutions for these kinds of problems and not let people build something to only to stop them when the projects are already up and running.
The social policies decided by the government which do not take into account by any means. An example is the gas price gap decided during the Tripartite discussions. You can heat a house with 25 residents with the price gap that was approved. We as Pirates want policies which help the people that need help. We had advocated for a more targeted policy approach.
And then finally all the scandals and afffairs of the coalition, that even if the current coalition was not responsible for the problems in the first place -like for SuperDrecksKëscht where the problem was created 20 years ago – they tried nothing to bring transparency to the situation and build a new, more transparent structure. We as Pirates always call for more transparency.
Who are your constituents and what are their objectives and values?
As Pirates we aim to give a voice to people who have seen their financial and social position worsen over the last 5 to 10 years. We want to support SMEs as well as people who are part of the LGBTIQ* community or refugees. We want to support the young people in school or fresh on the labour market as well as the retired who do not have the comfort they thought they would have after their career ended.
Are there any other political parties with whom your Party sufficiently shares common ground to serve together as political coalition partners?
Yes, most parties in Parliament are potential coalition partners. We do exclude a coalition with the far left and the extreme right. Both for specific reasons but nonetheless. We are able to discuss with any Party that wants to put transparency first and is ready to help us take Luxembourg into the 21th century.
What objectives are you and your Party trying to achieve during the coming election cycle on both the local and national levels trying to achieve ?
On the local elections we hope that everyone of our lists is able to score at least one mandate**. In some communes like the city of Luxembourg or Pétange for example we aim even higher.
On a national level we aim the hit as close to our polling results as possible. Five MPs would give us the status of a “Fraktioun” in which case we would have more means to do our parliamentary work and access to things such as the control commission on the Luxembourgish intelligence agency.
What are your views on the Ukraine war and the Luxembourg response?
Ukraine is fighting for its freedom while Russia is trying to raze the country to the ground. We Pirates have supported Ukraine from the beginning in their efforts to push back the Russian occupiers. In Parliament, we have supported all support measures for Ukraine and we will continue to do so. We Pirates are for the use of weapons that do not risk escalating the conflict. This means that we oppose the sending of Luxembourg soldiers, nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, mines, incendiary bombs and all other weapons that violate international treaties. The war must not escalate through such weapons. In the event that there should be peace negotiations, we want to set up safeguards (for example, Blue Helmets) in Ukraine, to make sure that the peace is permanent. Ukraine also needs a partner for the time after the war which we want to be.
To what extent does the Pirate Party embrace gender neutrality, promote diversity, appeal to foreigner voters and communicate in English ?
The Pirate Party does fully embrace gender equality. We do our best to show our support for the LGBTIQ* Community where ever we can. In 2021 we did put a resolution in Parliament to delare Luxembourg as an LGBTIQ* Freedom zone. We are also the Party with the most candidates with other than Luxembourgish nationalities. 21,8% of our candidates do not hold Luxembourgish nationality. And we even had the problem in one commune, that we had put our list together, only to realise that we were not allowed to have less than 50% Luxembourgish nationals on the list. A rule that should have been abolished when EU and non-EU nationals gained the right to vote in the local elections.