Can you vote?
It can be easy to become disenfranchised if you are living abroad, but foreign residents can vote in a number of elections in the Grand Duchy.
Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy. Unsurprisingly, given the size of the population of Luxembourg, voting is compulsory for citizens or those who register to vote here. Failure to vote is punishable with a fine.
Every five years, Luxembourg votes for six Members of the European Parliament or MEPs. The next European elections are scheduled for 2024.
To vote in the European elections in Luxembourg you must be a citizen of an EU country (so this will not include the UK at the next election), and be 18 years or over on the date of the election.
You can register online or at your commune, and Luxembourg citizens living overseas have the right to request a postal vote.
Local councillors are elected every six years, and the next municipal/communal elections are scheduled for 11 June 2023. The size of the municipal council will depend on the size of the population in that commune, but the total number of councillors is always an uneven number to allow for a majority vote.
Proportional representation is the method for municipalities of 3,000 or more inhabitants, and candidates are grouped together. In smaller municipalities (fewer than 3,000 people), a relative majority system is used, and candidates are named individually.
On 13 July 2021, the chamber of deputies voted to change the rules on the voting rights of foreign residents, who can now vote in local elections regardless of length of stay (before it was a minimum of 5 years) and nationality (before they needed to be EU citizens), so long as they are aged 18 years or more.
To be eligible, you must must sign up to vote at your local commune or via Guichet at least 55 days prior to the elections (previously this was 87 days).
Foreign residents can also stand as candidates, and run for mayor. Commune/municipal elections have an impact on transport, nursery and primary education facilities, and housing development.
You will get the same number of votes as there are councillors to elect. You can give a candidate a maximum of two votes but your votes must not exceed the total number of councillors for your municipality or commune, so add them up carefully.
Every five years, Luxembourg elects 60 members to the Chambre des Députés. The last parliamentary election in the Grand Duchy was on 14 October 2018 and the next one will take place in October 2023.
In principle, the Grand Duke is responsible for the implementation of law but in practice the government does this job. He usually appoints a formateur to form a government – someone who has the support of a parliamentary majority (so not necessarily from the party that has the most deputies).
The Government Council proposes policies but needs a majority vote from the Chamber to pass a law. It is possible for the majority party to be in opposition (as is the case today with the Christian Social People's Party, the CSV), since governments can be made from coalitions – the current government is a coalition of the Democratic Party (DP), the Greens (déi Gréng) and the Luxembourg Socialist Workers Party (LSAP). You can find a breakdown of the current number of deputies from each party here.
Elections are by constituency and based on population size. The South has the highest number of deputies – 23, and then the Central constituency with 21 deputies, the North with nine and the East with seven deputies.
To vote you must have Luxembourg citizenship and be 18 years or more on the day of the election. Luxembourgers living overseas are entitled to vote by post.
There has been debate in recent years about representation of foreign residents living in Luxembourg, who make up some 48% of the population. However, a referendum in 2015 to give long-term residents the right to vote was overwhelmingly voted against by 78% of Luxembourgers.
If you have gained citizenship and want to vote in the next parliamentary election, you can register online at MyGuichet.lu.
The last national referendum was in October 2015. In addition to asking if foreign residents who had resided in Luxembourg for more than 10 years and participated in European and municipal elections should have the right to vote, it also asked if the voting age should be reduced to 16 years and whether there should be a limit of 10 years for members of the government.
To vote in a national referendum, you must be a Luxembourgish citizen, 18 years or over and residing in the Grand Duchy. Luxembourgers living overseas can apply for a postal vote.