Parliamentary vote

Participating in local elections now easier for foreigners

Voting is set to become easier for non-nationals living in the grand duchy.  Mike Zenari

Voting is set to become easier for non-nationals living in the grand duchy.  Mike Zenari

The chamber of deputies on 13 July voted to change legislation on foreigner voting rights in Luxembourg.

According to the newly adopted bill 7877, non-nationals--EU citizens or not--who currently live in Luxembourg will be able to vote or stand for election in their commune as soon as they register with their commune. Until now, they had to live in the country for five years to gain this right.

56 deputies voted in favour of the change. 4 ADR deputies were against modifying the law. 

This decision comes a year before the next local elections, which take place every 6 years. 

Foreigners make up 47% of Luxembourg’s population and their participation in politics can have a strong impact on the communal political landscape. During the last local elections in 2017, for instance, 151,938 non-nationals were eligible to vote, but only 34,638--or 22,8%--registered. During the same election cycle, 75,226 non-nationals (33%) could not register as they had not yet lived in the grand duchy for five years.

Only 270 non-nationals ran for election during the last cycle, out of 3,575 candidates in total and just 15 foreigners were elected into office. 

Other changes will also be implemented through bill n.7877. Unlike Luxembourgers, foreign residents have to sign up to participate. Up until now, they had to do so 87 days before voting. To further ease the inclusion of non-nationals in the political life of Luxembourg, the new law allows foreign voters to register to vote only 55 days prior to the elections.

Communal elections have an impact on the daily life of residents as municipalities regulate aspects such as transport, primary and preschool education, as well as housing and development plans.

Foreigners, despite making up close to half of Luxembourg’s population, under the country’s constitution still cannot participate in national elections,