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Congratulations to Xavier Bettel
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/13/13
Last updated on: 11/14/13
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Xavier Bettel.

Congratulations to Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg, who has been chosen by Grand Duke Henri, the country's head of state, to form the next government. Bettel led his centrist Democratic Party to its strongest election result in history. He has the opportunity to form a coalition government with the Greens and Socialists. If successful, he will become Europe's third openly gay Prime Minister, following in the footsteps of Iceland's former leader Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who served from 2009 to 2013, and Belgium's current Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

With a population of 540,000, Luxembourg is one of the world's smallest countries, but it is also one of its wealthiest. As a member of the European Union, Benelux, and NATO, it also exerts influence beyond its numbers. It was recently elected to a position on the United Nations Security Council. Hence, as Prime Minister Bettel will be far more visible than most Luxembourgish politicians.

Among Bettel's top priorities for his new government is to complete the enactment of marriage equality. The nation currently offers civil unions, which are called Partenariat légal (legal partnerships). A recent poll indicated very strong support for same-sex marriage among Luxembourg nationals: 56 percent of those polled said they were strongly in favor, with another 27 percent expressing milder support. Only 9 percent indicated that they were strongly opposed.

Bettel, currently Mayor of Luxembourg City, is himself in a legal partnership with his partner architect Destenay Gauthier, who frequently accompanies him to official functions and will join him in the Prime Minister's official residence.

Bettel told BuzzFeed that before accepting the Grand Duke's offer to form the next government he had to get the okay from Gauthier. "We're a team for good times and bad," he said.

He mentioned that while he has sympathy for those who must remain closeted, he determined as a young man to be open about his sexual orientation. "I never hid it. It's a fact, I am like I am and I want to be honest with myself and honest in politics."

He added that he did not see himself as a "gay minister." He said that was not why anyone should vote either for or against him.

Bettel also revealed to BuzzFeed that his likely Deputy Prime Minister is also gay. He was referring to Etienne Schneider, the openly gay leader of Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party.

In the video below, from 2011, Bettel discusses his election as Mayor of Luxembourg City.

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