Suddenly Minister

By Pascal SteinwachsMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Eric Thill is just 30 years old, but already has a stellar political career behind him. First alderman of the municipality of Schieren, then mayor, and since 17 November 2023 minister. We meet the youngest member of the government for an in-depth interview at the Ministry of Culture.

When we arrive at the Terres Rouges building on Boulevard Roosevelt five minutes before the appointed time, we don't have to wait long before the door to the minister's office opens and Eric Thill starts to greet us.

Carefully coiffed, beard trimmed to the millimetre, neatly dressed. Fashionable glasses, pocket square, classic suit but no tie, black leather shoes instead of trainers. The minister cuts a fine figure and is clearly looking forward to the interview.

But first, the former member of the DP parliamentary group shows us around the building. Although he has been in office for a few months now, he is still impressed by the magnificent view of the Petrus Valley from the Ministry of Culture.

Lëtzebuerger Journal: Your career somehow reminds us of the film The Princess Diaries. Just as Anne Hathaway suddenly was blue-blooded, you were suddenly a minister. You are said to have been sitting on the sofa in your sweat pants when you received a call from Xavier Bettel a few days before the government was formed, asking you if you would like to become a minister. Nobody had you on their radar beforehand, especially as you only came fourth in your party in the northern district and were therefore not elected, nor were you present at the coalition negotiations at the Castle of Senningen. What we actually want to ask: What qualifies you for this job in the first place?

Eric Thill (laughs): I was actually sitting on the couch in my sweat pants, answering emails in my capacity as mayor of Schieren, when Xavier Bettel called to ask me if I could imagine taking on responsibility in the next government. It quickly became clear to me that I wanted to do it and I felt really honoured. I realised that, as a 29-year-old at the time, this would also give me the opportunity to represent the interests of young people in a new government. Especially as I had always been in favour of making politics more representative: more women, more young people ..

… which is of course commendable ..

I took part in the municipal elections in Schieren in 2017 and was the first person elected. I became first alderman, then mayor for two years. In last year's municipal elections, I was again very well elected, so I also went into the legislative elections, where I came fourth in the northern district behind the three elected representatives, including a speaker of parliament, a minister and an MP. As a minister, I can take on responsibility in the government with my two very interesting portfolios and repay the trust placed in me with concrete action.

Nevertheless, it looks as if the negotiators in the coalition talks only remembered at the last minute that there is also something like a culture portfolio that needs to be filled. And then the DP still had to include a representative from the north in the government. This makes it clear how much importance the CSV/DP government attaches to culture, namely not very much.

The opposite is the case. I can only tell you that I had various options as to what I could have done as a minister. It quickly became clear to me that I wanted to take on culture. And this together with tourism, because there are synergies here that I want to strengthen, because I believe that culture and tourism are closely linked. These are two ministries where you are close to the people, where you seek contact with the people and strive for a policy of togetherness. Culture was not my last priority, quite the opposite.

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