What are your voting rights in the Grand Duchy?
As you probably know, legislative elections in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are held every 5 years and allow to elect the 60 deputies who make up the Chamber of Deputies (the national Parliament). Voting is compulsory for all voters registered on the electoral roll and only Luxembourg nationals over 18 years of age are allowed to vote. As a foreigner national, you cannot be involved in the voting process but is it also the case for the communal and the European elections? Before answering this question, it is important to mention the fact that even if they will be not eligible to vote in the next legislative elections, 82% of foreign residents show an interest in Luxembourg politics, according to a survey conducted by the market research company TNS Ilres. The question for voting rights for foreign nationals was among three issues raised in the 2015 referendum but the motion was rejected. However, as a foreigner national, you have the right to vote in the communal and the European elections. What are the prerequisites and how to proceed?
Taking part in communal elections
The municipal elections are held every 6 years, usually on the second Sunday of October but can be moved to the first Sunday in June if the legislative elections and the communal elections were scheduled to take place in October of the same year. Voting is compulsory for all voters registered on the electoral list, regardless of their nationality (Luxembourg nationals, EU nationals and others). To vote, you must fulfil the 4 following conditions: be at least 18 years on the day of the elections, enjoy civil rights, be domiciled in Luxembourg and have resided in the country for at least 5 years, the last year of residence prior to application for registration on the list being uninterrupted.
In addition, if you wish to participate to these elections for the first time, you must be registered on the electoral list no later than the 87th day before the elections. Unlike the Luxembourgish voters, you are not registered automatically. You may submit your request electronically via MyGuichet.lu or submit a written application on plain paper. In this case, you have to go to the communal administration of your place of residence in order to complete, date and sign an application for registration on the separate list of foreign voters (which mentions, among others, your nationality). In order to prevent abstention, you may request to vote by post. It is important to know that you do not lose your right to vote in your country of origin by registering you as a non-Luxembourgish elector for the communal elections.
And why not standing as a candidate?
Even if you are not a Luxembourgish citizen, you may stand as a candidate and be elected communal councillor, alderman or mayor. Of course, the prerequisites are the same as for having the right to vote but, in addition, you must have been living for at least 6 months in the commune at the time of filling your candidate application. If you live in a commune of less than 3,000 inhabitants, you participate in elections under the relative majority system and do not need to be part of a list of candidates. In contrast, if you live in a commune of 3,000 inhabitants and more, you participate in elections under the proportional representation voting system and must be part of a group of candidates. In both cases, you must submit your candidate application at least 30 days before the day of the vote.
Taking part in European elections
The next elections for the European Parliament will be held in May 2019. If you are an EU national, you will have the right to vote in these elections provided that you are domiciled in Luxembourg and registered on the electoral list of the commune where you are living at least before the 87th day preceding the elections. As for the communal elections, registration is not automatic for non-Luxembourgish electors. The procedure of registration is the same: electronically via MyGuichet.lu or on paper. Pay attention to the fact that the electoral registration for the European elections do not give you the right to vote in the communal elections. They are two separate registers and, as such, a separate registration for each is required. One you are registered, keep in mind that you must vote – voting in the European elections is compulsory – and if you cannot go to the polls for one or another reason, a postal voting system has been put in place.
Running as a candidate is also possible but the competition is very strong. Luxembourg has only 6 representatives sitting in the European Parliament and each list of candidates must contain a majority of Luxembourgers. You can always try. Who dares nothing wins nothing!
(1) Unlike its neighbouring countries, Luxembourg has a unicameral parliamentary system.
 The latest communal elections were held in October 2017.
Immigration has always played a decisive role in the Grand Duchy’s economic development and and this trend is not going to stop. In 1961, the number of inhabitants in Luxembourg amounted to 314,900 people with a proportion of 13.2% of foreigners.
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