No limit to foreigners’ rights in local elections
Foreigners living in Luxembourg will be able to vote and stand in next year's local elections without having to live in the country for at least five years after lawmakers approved a law that widens access to democracy for them on Wednesday evening.
The law allows foreigners to both vote and stand in local elections without needing such long-term residence requirements, regardless of whether they are EU citizens or not and would come in time for next year's voting round. The next communal elections are scheduled for 11 June next year, just before the country's general elections towards the end of 2023.
The new law, approved by 56 of the 60 lawmakers, excluding the right-wing ADR, also extends the registration period, allowing people an extra month to sign up in a bid to encourage higher participation.
Non-Luxembourgers account for around half of the Grand Duchy's population and around 70% of residents in the capital, with the latest figures showing that Luxembourg's strong population growth and employment growth is driven by foreigners, including by non-EU migration.
At the last local elections in 2017, less than a quarter of resident foreigners signed up to vote, a study by the Centre for Intercultural and Social Studies showed. A third of foreign residents, some 75,226 people, were not authorised to register on the municipal electoral lists because they did not meet the criteria, parliament's website said. Fifteen people without a Luxembourg passport were elected to local communes in 2017, data held by Centre for Intercultural and Social Studies (Cefis), shows.
Luxembourg holds communal elections every six years to appoint mayors and councillors, who decide on local budgets and infrastructure projects.
An overwhelming majority in a referendum in 2015 rejected the idea of giving foreigners the right to vote in national elections once they had lived in the Grand Duchy for more than 10 years, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's first government, which had campaigned for the measure.