Lux­em­bourg­ers rule out full vot­ing rights for for­eign­ers

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY VERONIQUE POUJOL

Lux­em­bourg over­whelm­ingly re­jected in a ref­er­en­dum on Sun­day giv­ing full vot­ing rights to for­eign na­tion­als, who make up nearly half the pop­u­la­tion.

Just over 78 per­cent of vot­ers in the tiny Euro­pean Union coun­try said “No” to grant­ing for­eign­ers the vote, ac­cord­ing to fi­nal re­sults.

Had the vote been car­ried, the land­locked na­tion of over half a mil­lion peo­ple would have been the first in the EU to grant for­eign-born res­i­dents the right to vote in all the coun­try’s elec­tions.

Prime Min­is­ter Xavier Bet­tel had billed the ref­er­en­dum as a chance to boost the demo­cratic cre­den­tials of the wealthy duchy, which is nes­tled be­tween Bel­gium, France and Ger­many.

But as it be­came clear vot­ers dis­agreed with his ar­gu­ments, he ad­mit­ted de­feat.

“The mes­sage in clear and has been un­der­stood. This is not a suc­cess for the gov­ern­ing par­ties,” said Bet­tel. “We will re­spect the re­sult.”

While cam­paign­ing Satur­day in the cap­i­tal, also called Lux­em­bourg, the pre­mier said a “Yes” vote was also a vote for democ­racy and di­ver­sity.

“There is no other Euro­pean coun­try where only 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion elects its rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Bet­tel told jour­nal­ists ahead of the ref­er­en­dum, in which 244,382 peo­ple were el­i­gi­ble to vote.

About 46 per­cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion of 565,000 peo­ple are for­eign­ers.

“No other coun­try in the world, apart from Dubai, has our level of demo­cratic deficit,” he added.

Bet­tel’s Demo­cratic Party, which is in coali­tion with the So­cial­ists and Greens, had pro­posed to en­fran­chise for­eign­ers res­i­dent in Lux­em­bourg for over 10 years.

Around 35,000 mostly Euro­pean mi­grants met the cri­te­ria.

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