No tram referendum
(CS/ml) For the first time on Tuesday, MPs at the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies debated a public petition; however, the call for a referendum about the Luxembourg tram was warded off by a majority of the representatives.
A petition filed with parliament by 27-year-old Philipp Bützow earlier this year had called for a referendum on the controversial mobility project and garnered over 7,100 signatures.
Speaking in parliament, Bützow said that he does not fundamentally oppose the tram, but considering that costs of 550 million euros – 1,000 euros per capita – he argued that there should be a referendum to determine whether Luxembourgers want their tax money spent on such an expensive infrastructure project.
Additionally, he warned of exploding costs and questioned whether the government can ensure that the project will progress within the foreseen timeframe.
Bützow, who was supported by several signatories, also argued that the tram will not solve Luxembourg's transport problems and suggested that it might run into technical difficulties, as the technology for trams without overhead power lines was not yet well developed.
Waiting for a few more years with the project might help prevent future issues, he argued.
Transport Minister François Bausch meanwhile defended the project, conceding that the tram alone will not solve Luxembourg's transport issues, but going on to say that it forms part of a wider mobility scheme. Bausch also discussed alternative ideas, such as hybrid buses used in Metz, explaining, however, that these cannot transport the same amount of passengers as a tram.
The Infrastructure Minister also argued that plans for a tram had been under discussion for 30 years and that it was time to action. At the same time he said that he was not afraid of a referendum, but that no time should be lost to get the project underway.
Bausch was backed up by several government party MPs who not only spoke out for the tram, but also refused claims of a lack of democracy, explaining that there was a majority for the project among elected representatives in parliament and that during the last elections a majority of voters supported parties in favour of the tram.
Even though the petition is unlikely to change government policy on the tram, the debate in parliament sparked a discussion among MPs about referendums, and how and when they should be used.
Deputies concluded that a more in-depth discussion about this issue is needed.