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Three-quarters of foreigners miss out on Luxembourg local elections
Elections

Three-quarters of foreigners miss out on Luxembourg local elections

by BB 18.01.2019 From our online archive
Only 22.8% of foreigners signed up to vote in the 2017 communal poll, new study finds
Foreigners account for 48% of the Grand Duchy's population but can only vote in communal elections after living in Luxembourg for five years. Photo: Guy Jallay
Foreigners account for 48% of the Grand Duchy's population but can only vote in communal elections after living in Luxembourg for five years. Photo: Guy Jallay

Less than a quarter of foreigner residents in Luxembourg signed up to vote in the 2017 communal elections, according to a new study, highlighting the country's ongoing democratic deficit.

Foreigners account for 48% of the Grand Duchy's population but can only vote in communal elections after living in Luxembourg for five years.

National elections are restricted to voters with Luxembourgish nationality.

A new comprehensive analysis of government data by the Centre for Intercultural and Social Studies (Cefis) found that foreigners accounted for one in 12 voters in the most-recent round of local elections.

In total, 22.8% of foreign residents registered to vote in 2017, amounting to 34,638 voters.

This represents an increase from the 2011 elections when 17% of foreigners, or 25,501 voters, signed up.

The communal elections take place every six years and decide local government positions like mayors and councillors.

Under the new coalition agreement, the three governing parties have vowed to study ways to increase foreign citizens' participation in local elections.

The effort comes in the aftermath of the 2015 referendum which proposed extending the right to vote in national elections to foreigners who had lived in the country for 10 years.

It was resoundingly rejected by 78% of the existing electorate.

Nationality mix

In total, 134 nationalities were registered to vote on electoral lists in 2017 , compared to 108 in 2016, Cefis found.

The registration rate was slightly higher among EU nationals living in Luxembourg – standing at 23.2% or 31,288 voters.

Almost a third of Dutch nationals registered to vote, followed by Belgian and Germans at 28%.

Portuguese nationals were by far the largest number of voters at 13,093, a 22% registration rate.

In comparison, 19.7% of residents from countries outside the EU registered to vote in the local elections, with Montenegro the most-represented nation.

Very few young foreigners aged between 18 and 24 registered to vote with just 5% registered. However, this was an increase from 1% in 2011.

Among the candidates themselves, 370 foreigners ran for office, representing 7.6% of all wannabe local officeholders. Only 15 were elected.


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