Government criticised over referendum campaign
(CS) The Luxembourg government has been criticised for taking a stand in the upcoming referendum, with the ADR saying it should leave this up to the country's political parties.
In an open letter published this week, the “Alternative Democratic Reform Party” (ADR) commented that the appearance of minister at round table discussions and other events on the referendum was leading to a confusion between the work of the government and that of the Chamber of Deputies.
The referendum is officially a parliamentary project linked to the reform of the constitution, with the questions having been authored by a parliamentary commission and then approved in a plenary session.
The ADR said that the government had pledged to remain neutral only a few weeks ago and was now throwing its weight behind promoting a triple “yes” vote on the questions.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in his state of the nation speech had advocated a “yes” vote on foreigner voting rights, lowering the voting age to 16 and limiting the number of consecutive years a politicians can spend in government to ten.
A number of government ministers, including Deputy PM Etienne Schneider and Justice Minister Félix Braz have meanwhile spoken at debates on the matter.
The lines between their party affiliation and their position as part of the government were being blurred, the ADR criticised.
The party also pointed out two instances in which it believes that opinion polls were manipulated in favour of promoting a “yes” vote. In one survey, it said, respondents were not given the chance to say they were against foreigner voting rights, but could merely agree or disagree with certain conditions under which voting rights should be granted.
In another survey it said that the question had been manipulated to produce a larger portion of respondents in favour of a “yes” vote on opening up the vote to teenagers aged 16 to 18 on a voluntary basis.
“The ADR fights against all manipulation of the referendum campaign and demands a fair debate,” the statement said, adding that both the “yes” and “no” camps needed to be given equal platforms to defend their views.
The party had previously complained that “no” campaigners had not been allowed to speak at referendum debate events, introducing a motion in parliament calling for a neutral and fair exchange of points of view.