ASTI warns of populist referendum campaigns
(CS) Foreign worker support association ASTI has warned that campaigns surrounding the voting rights referendum should not be “populist and demagogical”, while on the whole welcoming the new government programme despite some points of criticism.
In a statement issued on Thursday, ASTI commented that it supports the government's desire to involve Luxembourg's citizens in the democratic process more, for example by using a series of referendums to consult the public on key issues, such as a reform of the constitution.
At the same time, the association said that the debate surrounding these referendums, which is also set to include a poll on voting rights for non-nationals, needs to be factual with the political parties putting forward clear positions and arguments in order to avoid a “populist and demagogical” discussion.
With a focus on national elections, ASTI also expressed regret that the issue of lowering the residence requirements for local elections were not discussed and that no clear guidelines were put forward about changes to the law to acquire Luxembourg nationality.
While the government under Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's leadership has said that it plans to ease language requirements, ASTI insists that efforts need to be made across all age groups to facilitate access to Luxembourgish language classes to further integration.
Positive signs but action needs to follow words
On the whole, the association finds in its review of the programme that integration is not sufficiently addressed, especially considering Luxembourg's large foreign community. The ministries of immigration and integration should not have remained separate, ASTI commented, adding that integration issues should be addressed across all ministries.
The group also criticised that the new government's approach to immigration was based largely on the influx of highly-skilled workers and facilitating procedures in favour of multinationals, neglecting smaller enterprises or family businesses.
On the other hand, however, ASTI said it was a positive signal for Luxembourg's asylum policies that the government wants to create quotas for the country's communes to ensure that all municipalities do their bit.
The isolation of refugees and ghettoisation of asylum centres should, however, be avoided.
“On the whole, the government coalition programme is positive on the matters that concern living together. Now, words need to be turned in to action through a dialogue with all citizens and all actors working in the field, with a view to building a society where everyone, regardless of their social or geographic origins, has their place and can play a role,” ASTI concludes.