POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - POLITICS

Complaint

Signing up voters doesn’t violate election laws: prosecutor



It is illegal for politicians to campaign at people’s homes but signing up foreign voters doesn’t fall under this law, the public prosecutor said on 4 April Photo: Mike Zenari

It is illegal for politicians to campaign at people’s homes but signing up foreign voters doesn’t fall under this law, the public prosecutor said on 4 April Photo: Mike Zenari

A campaign by déi Lénk to sign up foreign voters to take part in June’s local elections does not violate the law, the public prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday in response to a complaint by the Pirate Party.

Déi Lénk earlier this year had launched a door-to-door effort to register non-nationals to vote on 11 June. While Luxembourg nationals are automatically registered, foreigners have to sign up by 17 April at 5pm either online or at their local commune.

“The aim of the déi Lénk party’s approach was to involve non-Luxembourg residents more in the municipal elections process, given the current low registration rate of these same people, particularly in the City of Luxembourg,” the public prosecutor said.

Under Luxembourg law it is illegal to visit someone’s home as part of an elections campaign. It’s an offence that carries a fine of €500 to €5,000. The same law also prohibits promising voters money or other advantages but also bans voters from accepting any offers or donations by campaigning politicians.

The prosecutor said that for an offence to have been committed, candidates would have had to visit voters to remind them of their candidacy and with the purpose of influencing the outcome of the ballot, dismissing a complaint filed by the Piratepartei in March.

Signing non-nationals up to vote does not officially constitute political campaigning. It is, for example, not included in a fair elections deal that parties signed at the start of the year and which regulates campaign spending and includes a pledge not to spread misinformation or slander opponents.

Under this agreement, campaigning for the local elections can only begin on 15 May. It is, however, a non-binding deal and there are no fines if these rules are broken.

With just under two weeks to go for non-nationals to sign up to vote in the local elections, more than 215,000 eligible foreigners have yet to register to cast their vote in their commune.

Luxembourg last year scrapped a five-year residency requirement, meaning non-nationals can register to vote as soon as they move to the country.