Only déi Lénk refuse to sign the fair election campaign agreement for the upcoming local elections on 8 October. Pictured: Party campaign posters in Luxembourg City for the 2011 local elections.
Photo: Olivier Minaire
The major political parties (DP, LSAP, CSV, Déi Gréng and ADR) have signed an agreement in which they agree to refrain from any personal attacks or insults of their counterparts, especially on social media.
Local elections are held on 8 October this year. The parties agreed on 14 April not to disturb campaign events of other parties, not to damage or remove any election campaign posters, to distance themselves from third parties which publicly distribute untrue, insulting or offensive claims, and to combine this with a public statement in support of that party, and to inform and call on their members to respect this election campaign agreement.
The agreement stipulates that the campaign will only start officially on 11 September and that the financing of the campaign should be limited to €75,000 for advertising in national print media, websites, on the radio, TV and cinema. Big election posters (150x200cm) are limited to 100; the parties also agreed not to put up posters on bus stops or on public transport.
Only Déi Lénk refused to sign
Déi Lénk (the far left party) issued a statement that it would leave this debate and refused to sign the agreement. The main reason was that the €75,000, according to déi Lénk, was an excessive amount for advertising around local elections, and that the total budget (including gadgets to give away) was not even discussed.
Additional agreement against social media abuse
Déi Lénk and ADR refuse to sign
On 14 April, an additional agreement was signed by the CSV, Déi Gréng, DP and LSAP on fighting social media abuse during the election campaign. The parties will refrain from using social bots which propagate fake news or hate speech. They also committed to refrain from any sort of “dirty campaigning” and to offer training to their members on respectful treatment of political opponents.
Déi Lénk have not said in their statement why they did not sign this.
The Quotidien newspaper has reported that Alex Penning, general secretary of the ADR, justified the decision because fake news and hate speech were difficult to define. The other questions were: who would be the judge, and what would be the “punishment”?
For the ADR, this is a touchy subject. Just a few weeks ago, one of its own local councillors, Joe Thein from Pétange, was expelled from the party because he “liked” a comment on facebook suggesting that the foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn should take a ride in a convertible through Dallas (a reference to the assassination of John F. Kennedy). It took several days before any of the party grandees publicly rebuked him, citing freedom of speech.