Sentenced not to vote

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Around 360 people are excluded from municipal elections due to current or past convictions. Whether the deprivation of the right to vote is still acceptable both in principle, but also in view of the new constitution, is questionable. An analysis.

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After the abolition of the residence clause, more people are eligible to vote in the upcoming municipal election than ever before. Nevertheless, parts of the population are not entitled to cast their vote. The version of the constitution currently still in force, which will be replaced on 1 July, stipulates, for example, that people under guardianship are generally excluded from the right to vote. This is to change. Not in time for the local elections, but for the parliamentary elections in autumn. At least that is the government's plan with Bill 8150.

For another population, however, everything will remain the same. Felons can lose the right to vote under certain circumstances – even for life.

The Luxembourg "Code pénal" basically distinguishes between three scenarios.

Article 11 of the Penal Code (see infobox) states that anyone sentenced to more than ten years in prison loses, among other things, the right to vote and stand for election – for the rest of their life.

Article 12 leaves it up to the court, in the case of prison sentences of five to ten years for crimes committed, to deprive the convicted person of the right to vote for life or for a period of ten to 20 years.

In the case of offences, the courts may also suspend the rights enumerated in Article 11, for a period of five to ten years. It should be emphasised, however, that the law contains specific provisions for the deprivation of civic rights such as the right to vote in other places.

Criminal disenfranchisement is not a rare phenomenon. The non-governmental organisation Penal Reform International (PRI), which works to uphold human rights in criminal law, commissioned a study on this issue a few years ago. Published in 2016 and conducted by eight international law firms, it concluded that in 45 per cent of 66 countries studied, imprisonment is accompanied by the loss of the right to vote.

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