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Formation of the Government
The Constitution grants the Grand Duke the right to organize his government freely, i.e. to create ministries, divide up ministerial departments, and appoint their members. The diversity and number of ministerial departments considerably exceeds the number of government members called to the department office, and thus the same minister may frequently hold several portfolios. In practice, the Grand Duke chooses on the basis of the election results the mediator and/or the “formateur” of the government, who generally becomes Prime Minister. The “formateur” presents to the Grand Duke the team constituting the members of government. Generally, these are leading political figures forming part of the political groups represented in the Chamber of Deputies. The Grand Duke undertakes the appointment and swearing-in of the government members. The appointed government presents its political programme to the Chamber of Deputies, which expresses its confidence by voting in favour. This, the government has a parliamentary majority upon which it may rely. On the basis of the Constitution, the Grand Duke is entitled to remove any member of government from office, but in practice it is more often the case that a minister or indeed the entire government, tender their resignation to the Grand Duke.
The Government’s Ministerial Council (cabinet meeting)
The government is obliged to deliberate in Council on all matters which must be submitted for a decision by the Grand Duke. Each member of government is entitled to instigate a decision by the Council on matters of his department. The Prime Minister is entitled to refer to the Council any matter affecting the government of the Grand Duchy. The decisions of the government’s Ministerial Council are taken by a majority of votes. Where there is a party of votes on matters to be decided by the Council, the President has the casting vote. If a matter is considered urgent, it suffices for two members of government to be present and in agreement for a decision to be taken. However, they must report their decision to the next meeting of the Council.
Responsibility of Ministers
Ministerial responsibility is inseparable from the absence of responsibility of the Grand Duke. For an act of the Grand Duke to take effect, it must be countersigned by a member of government who assumes entire responsibility for such an act. The Constitution provides, in a general manner, for the responsibility of ministers. This responsibility is general with regard to acts having a direct or indirect relation with ministerial functions. It may be legal, i.e. criminal or civil, as well as political. The ministers are responsible for acts of which they themselves are the authors, either individually or collectively. Responsibility for any measure taken in the Council is incumbent upon all the members of government involved in adopting such measure. However, a minister who has a dissenting vote recorded in the minutes of the Council session is exempt from responsibility. The government as a whole and the ministers individually are politically responsible for their acts before the Chamber of Deputies. The political responsibility of ministers may be subject to sanction consisting of the obligation to cease their functions when the Chamber no longer grants them confidence (motion of censure). It is customary for ministers to resign the first time they receive a hostile vote from the Chamber. On no account can a verbal or written order from the Grand Duce release a minister from his responsibility. Indeed, the responsibility of ministers would become illusory and deprived of all sanction if the Grand Duke could cover such responsibility by asserting his own inviolability. On the basis of the Constitution, only the Chamber is entitled to induct ministers. Indictments admitted against ministers for acts committed in the exercise of their functions are brought before the Supreme Court of Justice sitting in plenary session. To avoid the criminal responsibility of ministers becoming purely theoretical, the Constitution establishes an exception to the Grand Duke’s right of pardon, stating that a convicted minister may only be pardoned upon a request from the Chamber.
For more information:
The Prime Minister
Members of Government
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration