Xavier Bettel outside the prime minister’s office in December 2013
Photo: Christophe Olinger (archives)
Politics: By a wide margin Luxembourgers have shot down proposals to extend suffrage to non-nationals and youth, and limit government minister terms.
Luxembourgers have rejected all three questions put to them by the government in a national referendum over the weekend.
Citizens rejected--by 22% in favour and 78% against--the proposal to allow non-Luxembourg nationals to vote for MPs, the government’s press service said on Sunday evening. However this would have been limited to foreigners who had already lived in Luxembourg for ten years and previously participated in local or European elections.
That would have enfranchised roughly 35,000 residents at the next election. Nearly half of the Grand Duchy’s population--roughly 260,000--are foreign nationals. “Yes” campaigners had said this was a democratic and integration gap that needed to be bridged. “No” campaigners had said the link between citizenship and voting should be maintained, and many encouraged the pursuit of double nationality.
In addition Luxembourgers voted 19% in favour of and 81% against lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.
A proposal to limit cabinet ministers to ten years in office failed by 30% in favour versus 70% against.
“The message is clear and has been understood,” Xavier Bettel, the DP prime minister who led the three “yes” campaigns, was quoted by AFP and Le Quotidien as saying.
Marc Spautz, an MP and president of the opposition CSV, the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies, said the DP-LSAP-Green coalition “government should draw the consequences”, according to Paperjam. The CSV “does not call for the resignation of the government”, but “in its place, us, we would take the consequences.”
On his Twitter account, Roy Reding, MP with the ADR party, wrote: “Ciao!! Appointment time at the Grand Ducal Court”, where ministers formally submit their resignations.
During campaigning earlier this year Bettel said the poll was a referendum on the three issues, not on his government.
On Twitter, Claire Barthelemy said, speaking figuratively: “One half of Luxembourg just voted no to voting rights for the other half.”
“This was a big moment for Luxembourg democracy”, Nee2015.lu, a citizens group that campaigned against foreigner voting, said on its Facebook page on Sunday night. It thanked supporters for opposing the measures in the face of “a massively coordinated ‘yes’ campaign by the government, big bosses”, along with trade unions, the media, the church and all the “self-appointed parents”. (On its websiteon Saturday, the group thanked several media outlets, including Delano, for having covered it fairly.)
Another round at reform
“The government confirms its desire to submit, through a national referendum, the complete text of a future constitution to the country during the year 2017,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. “The government will continue its efforts in favour of political participation of youth and the integration of non-Luxembourger residents, who represent around 45% of the population.”
There are 246,974 voters on Sunday’s electoral rolls, the government’s press service said. 211,013 valid ballots were counted, while 2,187 were blank and 1,635 were spoiled.
The vast majority of foreigners living in Luxembourg could already (and still can) vote in local elections after ten years residence and more than 90% in EU elections.