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Luxembourg: Three Referendum Questions Voted Down

(July 7, 2015) On June 7, 2015, voters in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg were called to vote by referendum on three questions related to the drafting of a new Constitution: (1) the optional right to vote for Luxembourgers from 16 years of age, (2) the optional right to vote for non-Luxembourg residents, provided that they have resided for at least ten years in Luxembourg and have previously participated in local or European elections in Luxembourg, and (3) the imposition of a time limit of ten years for ministerial mandates. (Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, Référendum au Luxembourg sur 3 questions en relation avec l’élaboration d’une nouvelle Constitution, GOUVERNEMENT.LU [official government website] (June 5, 2015).)

After the counting of the ballots in the country’s 613 polling stations, it was announced that 80.87% voted “No” on the first question, 78.02% voted “No” on the second question, and 69.93% voted “No” on the third question. In total, 246,974 voters were registered on the electoral list. (Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, Résultats officieux du référendum, LE SITE OFFICIEL DES ELECTIONS AU GRAND-DUCHE DE LUXEMBOURG (June 7, 2015).) As the results proved unequivocal, the Government, led by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, declared in a public communication that the constitutional reform would move forward without addressing these three questions. The new draft Constitution should be submitted to the electors by referendum in 2017. (Fatima Rougi, Le non l’emporte, un camouflet pour Bettel, L’ESSENTIEL (June 7, 2015).)

The holding of the referendum was instituted by the Loi du 27 février 2015 portant organisation d’un référendum national sur différentes questions en relation avec l’élaboration d’une nouvelle Constitution [Law of Feb. 27, 2015, on the Organization of a National Referendum on Issues Related to the Drafting of a New Constitution]. (Law of Feb. 27, 2015, MEMORIAL [official gazette of Luxembourg], A – No. 35 (Mar. 4, 2015) (in French).) To conduct the referendum, the country was treated as a single electoral district, and the administrative center was Luxembourg. Voting was mandatory for all voters registered on the electoral lists for the legislative elections on the day of the referendum. Those who were unable to take part in the polls were required to submit their reasons for abstention to the competent State Attorney within their territory, with the necessary justifications, with the exceptions of voters who, on the day of the referendum, lived in a town other than the one in which they were being asked to vote and voters over 75 years of age. (Référendum au Luxembourg sur 3 questions en relation avec l’élaboration d’une nouvelle Constitution, supra.)

The last referendum in Luxembourg was held in 2005 on the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe (the ratification process of which subsequently failed, leading to the adoption instead of the Treaty of Lisbon); 56.52 % of voters had voted in favor of the Treaty. (Id.; The Treaty of Lisbon: Introduction, EUR-LEX (last updated May 20, 2014).)

Prepared by Geneviève Claveau, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Nicolas Boring, Foreign Law Specialist.