News ID: 119548
Published: 0732 GMT June 07, 2015

Luxembourgers to decide on voting rights for foreigners, youths

Luxembourgers to decide on voting rights for foreigners, youths

Thousands of Luxembourgers are to take part in a referendum on extending voting rights to foreigners and the youth, in an unprecedented move that could increase the electorate in the tiny European Union country by as much as 50 percent.

Voters will take to the polls on Sunday in a referendum backed by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. They will be asked whether those foreigners who have lived in Luxembourg for 10 years and have exercised their existing right to cast ballots in municipal elections should also be given a say in national votes, Press TV reported.

Around 245,000 people are eligible to participate in the referendum. In case of a yes vote, Luxembourg’s parliament would draft constitutional amendments, which then would have to be ratified by a second referendum.

Recent polls are part of a modernizing agenda pursued by the 42-year-old premier. The plan also includes lowering the voting age to 16 from the current 18 and curtailing ministers’ terms in office to 10 consecutive years.

The three questions on the Sunday referendum ballot papers, particularly extending voting rights to foreigners, have been met with mixed reactions, with opponents maintaining that foreign nationals should not be allowed the chance.

“Luxembourg’s citizens have made many sacrifices to keep their national sovereignty. What would our parents and grandparents say if we gave this up voluntarily?” the website campaigning for a no vote said.

Philippe Poirier, a political scientist at Luxembourg University, also said, “The no campaign has been much more vocal and much more visible on social networks,” adding, “That’s very important in a country which doesn’t have a long tradition of referendums.”

Nearly half of Luxembourg’s 540,000 inhabitants are foreign nationals, and they mostly come from Italy and Portugal. Some 150,000 people also commute in daily from Germany, France and Belgium to primarily work in the country’s financial sector.

Resource: Press TV
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