Non-Luxembourgers can vote in this year's municipal elections without any restriction on the length of residence. Some municipalities have a (significantly) higher proportion of registered foreigners than others. About possible causes and what is being done at municipal level for their integration.
"We don't have an explanation, " Romain Wester replies on the phone when asked why the proportion of registered non-Luxembourgers is the lowest in his municipality. Wester is the mayor of Parc Hosingen, the municipality that, with 13.2 per cent (4,043 residents, 1,073 of them foreigners, i.e. about 25 per cent), comes last in the national comparison. According to Wester, every effort had been made to inform the affected residents. "Whether it was through social media, our municipal newsletter, information events, our big registration day to register for the municipal elections. We had open Saturdays to offer as many opportunities as possible. It is incomprehensible to us why the percentage is so low."
Wester emphasises the active club life of the municipality, "from young to old, Luxembourgers, non-Luxembourgers, the integration and cultural commission that welcomes new citizens to the municipality every year." The aim is to facilitate contact between residents – and in this case non-Luxembourgers – who are newcomers. "This is the first contact we have with new citizens and it is extremely important, " says Wester.
In search of explanations
One explanation could be that, according to him, several people acquired Luxembourg nationality last year – and thus no longer fall into said category. "Last year we counted 34 people. From 2017 until now, it was around 141." One also had to face the reality that not everyone is interested in politics. "In our system, once you register, you have to vote every time. Some people may not want to do that. It's up to us to find out."
He claims attempts were made at all times to find channels that "seem most appropriate to us", now through a new application that was recently launched to reach people "who don't read newspapers or are on Facebook". "We were looking for a new medium through which to get feedback. Like many other municipalities, we now have our own app and a section can be accessed there to start the relevant surveys. It's one of the quickest ways to stimulate exchange and get answers." It were a priority to question the reasons for the low percentage.
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