'We got the message,' says PM Xavier Bettel
(CS/LW) Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said that the government had “got the message” after an overwhelming majority voted 'no' in a referendum on foreigner voting rights, lowering the voting age to 16 and limiting ministerial mandates to ten years.
Speaking to the local media, Bettel said: “It is a clear signal, which we will respect,” adding, however, that hosting a referendum and asking the people their opinion was the right thing.
The Luxembourg government had campaigned for a triple 'yes' vote but on Sunday, voters delivered the exact opposite. With final results confirmed around 6.35pm, just over 80 percent of voters said 'no' to lowering the voting age to 16. Over 78 percent objected to giving foreigners the rights to vote, while 69 percent did not want to see ministerial mandates limited to ten years.
These elements will therefore not be integrated in a wider reform of the Luxembourg constitution.
Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider meanwhile said that the vote had not been about sanctioning the government, but also voiced his disappointment at the outcome.
He ruled out political consequences for the government as a whole, after calls made by the CSV's Michel Wolter that Bettel should resign. “The political consequences are that the three ideas that we had will not be included in the constitution,” he commented.
Despite the clear failure of the 'yes' campaign, déi Gréng's François Bausch commented that mistakes had not been made.
In an official statement, the government said it would "continue efforts in favour of political participation of young people and the integration of non-Luxembourgish residents, who represent around 45 percent of the population."
The statement also said that the organisation of this national referendum itself had already been a step forward in political debate and culture in the country. "Active citizen participation in the debate encourages us to pursue our democratic and inclusive approach." Further referenda in the run-up to the reform of the constitution and a public vote on the full text have not been ruled out.
President of the Chamber of Deputies Mars Di Bartolomeo said: “It is a clear result that does not require interpretation,” adding that the questions are off the table for the constitutional reform.
However, Di Bartolomeo also said that hardly anyone had been against political participation of foreigners in the country, but rather the method of how they should be able to do so.