The Grand Duchy is considered one of the wealthiest places to live in the EU, but many of those who work there feel out-priced by rising housing costs
Affordable housing is a key issue as voters go to the polls in Luxembourg on Sunday.
With a population of just 660,000 people, the Grand Duchy is typically considered one of the wealthiest places in the European Union, but as street demonstrations on Friday showed, it comes at a price for some.
In the capital city, new-build flats sell for 13,000 euros per square metre and older ones go for 10,700 euros. The average cost of a house is 1.5 million euros.
Rents increased by 6.7% between June 2022 and June 2023, much faster than the inflation rate of 3.4% over that period.
Philippe Poirier, a political analyst at the University of Luxembourg, says that housing has become “the question that overshadows all others” at the legislative elections.
He ticked off “the scarcity of housing and land, the cost of construction or purchase, and the high rents” as the key problems.
Parties promise action
The two major political parties hoping to spearhead the next government have pledged action.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s Liberal Party promised to create a super-ministry for housing, wants to tax vacant properties more, and invest in social housing.
Socialist leader Paulette Lenert, the health minister in the current coalition government, is pushing for huge investments in affordable housing.
Xavier Bettel’s ruling coalition with the Socialists and Greens is trailing in polls to the centre-right Christian Social People’s party, suggesting Bettel’s ten-year stint as Prime Minister could be drawing to an end.
No party seems likely to win an outright majority and a period of intense negotiations is likely to follow the vote. In the previous two elections, the centre-right failed to form a coalition.