Série (4) Chefs de groupes politiques: Martine Mergen
Posted on 10 May 2012 by citymag
The leader of the CSV party in the city council talks about her roots in the capital and what she thinks are the most pressing challenges it faces.
Bringing about change
Martine Mergen took a shine to politics as a youngster, sitting on the conseil d’education at school and joining the CSV party at a relatively early age. “I’m one of those people who thinks you should be able to change things that you don’t agree with,” she explains. Her choice of the CSV stemmed from a belief that it was the people’s party that gathered together many facets and could best meet the need to further the aspirations of ordinary citizens.
But it was not until 2000 that Mergen first entered the city council. Four years later she won a seat in the national parliament and was also promoted onto the college of aldermen in the city – in charge of education and the environment – when Claude Wiseler entered cabinet in the national government. But she has continued to work as a doctor at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg with a responsibility for the prison in Schrassig. “I try to strictly separate the two activities, but it is a delicate balance,” she admits. However, she has been given dispensation to work in the Chambre des députes and for the city council. “But I could never give up medicine; I am really attached to my profession.”
Mergen is a true native of the capital city. She was born in Limpertsberg, grew up in Cents and, following 12 years in Austria to study, now has returned to live in Limpertsberg. “And as a tourist guide I always had a strong tie to the city. I really enjoy living and working here.” As head of the CSV faction in the council, Mergen principally helps plan political strategy. She is also vice-president of the party’s faction in national parliament.
Mergen’s interests in local politics lie chiefly in the architectural heritage of the city as well as its history and culture. “But I am also interested in the external image of the city, as a national and European capital.” She says the housing problem is the main challenge facing the city right now. “It is becoming a city for singles and very rich people. Young families with children are being forced to move outside the city because of the high price of housing.”
Furthermore, she argues, the more retail and commercial zones are created – like in Gasperich, Kirchberg and Hollerich – the more difficult it becomes for people to be able to live in proximity to their place of work. “And that creates a problem for sustainable development – because the easiest way to solve traffic problems would be to have people who work in the city live in the city.” On the other hand, Mergen is proud of the city’s reputation for tolerance and multiculturalism. “Few capital cities are so colourful and can boast such harmony. Foreigners really appreciate that, and it should be seen as an opportunity.”