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Politics

Electoral system in Luxembourg

In this article, we observe the electoral system of Luxembourg. Shedding light on the types of elections held, the underlying reasons for these electoral exercises, and eligibility criteria for both candidates and voters.

Last time updated
15.01.24

Luxembourg has a vibrant political scene characterized by a well-organized electoral system. In essence, Luxembourg combines elements of a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. This means that while there is a monarch as the symbolic leader, the actual decision-making power lies with the elected officials in parliament who represent the wishes of the people.

What elections are there in Luxembourg?

Luxembourg's political system is based on the principles of a democratic republic in which the various branches of government operate separately but in concert. In particular, there are clear distinctions between the roles of the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

However, there is some overlap, particularly between the executive and legislative branches, which allows them to work closely together for a better future.

There are three different levels at which people can vote to support democracy and make their choices. Local, national and European elections offer the opportunity to influence the course of politics.

Local elections — Municipal democracy

At the municipal level in Luxembourg, local laws and decisions are made through municipal elections. Each commune has its own council made up of a mayor, aldermen and councilors. The munucipality's residents directly elect these officials, who serve for 6 years. The number of officials in each council depends on the number of people living in the commune. The most recent municipal elections took place on January 11 in 2023.

National elections — Chambre des Députés

Moving up to the national level, legislative power resides in the Chamber of Deputies. In Luxembourg, the country's 60 representatives, called deputies, are directly elected by the people. There are four electoral districts that combine the elected deputies based on their population size. There is only one legislative chamber in Luxembourg. This means that there is no second Chamber like a Senate. Legislative elections are held every 5 years. The most recent one was held on October 14 in 2018.

European elections — EU Parliament

Since 1979, Luxembourg has been directly electing its representatives to the European Parliament. This is a reflection of the nation's commitment to active participation in the European Union
Luxembourg is allocated 6 seats in the European Parliament. These elections follow a 5 year cycle, with the date of the European elections set at the European level. The most recent European Parliament elections in Luxembourg took place on May 26 in 2019.

The next elections in Luxembourg will be held according to the schedule made at different levels.

Municipal elections
2029
National elections
2023
European elections
2024

Roles in the elections

Understanding the electoral system is the first step to participating in the elections. Here, we break down the different aspects of the electoral system in Luxembourg.

Main political forces and stones of democracy
Constitution
Legal guide to democratic representation and electoral process
Chamber
Central hub of political decision-making, where elected officials decide the laws
Elections
Conducted fairly on different levels of the country legislative system

At the local level

In Luxembourg, the democratic process takes place when registered voters participate in local elections to elect members of their commune's municipal council. However, the selection of the councilors (aldermens) and the mayor is somewhat different. 
The Minister of the Interior chooses the aldermen, taking into account the preferences of the recently elected council members. Similarly, the Grand Duke, who is the country's head of state, appoints the mayor based on the recommendation of the majority of the new council members.

On the national stage

Legislative elections in Luxembourg constitute a cornerstone of the democratic process. These elections employ universal suffrage to elect the 60 deputies who comprise the Chamber of Deputies. However, the election of the ministers and the formation of the government take a distinctive route. Per the constitution, the Grand Duke orchestrates the government formation process. 
Initially, the Grand Duke appoints a formateur who assumes the task of assembling the government. After the legislative elections have determined the political parties that will form the government, the formateur and the political parties engage in discussions to determine the government's composition
Ultimately, the formateur presents a list to the Grand Duke, who, as the head of state, officially appoints the new government, often with the formateur assuming the role of the prime minister.

It's important to note that the Grand Duke himself is not eligible for election, as Luxembourg operates as a constitutional monarchy where the monarch's role is hereditary.

At the local level, the criteria for eligibility to vote in municipal elections in Luxembourg are as follows:

  • Individuals must be at least 18 years old on the day of the elections.
  • They must possess full civil rights and not have been deprived of the right to vote.
  • Grand Duchy of Luxembourg's residence is a prerequisite.
  • Citizens of another European Union member state must be domiciled in the Grand Duchy. They also must be residing there at the time of their application for registration on the electoral list.
  • Other foreign nationals must also be domiciled in the Grand Duchy. Additionally, they must hold a valid residence permit or stay title.

On the national stage, eligibility to vote in legislative elections in Luxembourg requires:

  •  Luxembourg citizenship.
  • Attainment of 18 years of age on or before the day of the elections.
  • Enjoyment of full civil and political rights.
  • Domicile in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. However, Luxembourg citizens residing abroad are allowed to participate in legislative elections through postal voting.
  • These precise criteria ensure that those who exercise their right to vote meet the necessary legal and residential qualifications, reinforcing the democratic principles at the heart of Luxembourg's electoral system.
At the local level
Residence
Residence in Grand Duchy is a prerequisite
Rights
The person must have the right to vote
Age
Be at least 18 years old on the day of the election
Valid status
Foreign nationals must hold a valid residence permit or stay title
At the national level
Citizenship
Hold Luxembourg citizenship
Rights
Enjoy full civil and political rights
Age
Be at least 18 years old on the day of the election
Domicile
Maintain domicile within the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 

However, Luxembourg nationals domiciled abroad can vote in parliamentary elections by postal ballot.

General elections in 2023

The political landscape of Luxembourg is abuzz with anticipation as the nation heads toward a pivotal event in its democratic calendar, the legislative elections of 2023. Earlier this year, the 2023 Luxembourg communal elections marked a crucial step in local governance.

However, the spotlight now shifts to the upcoming legislative elections, scheduled for October 8. These elections hold immense significance in Luxembourg's political journey, as they will determine the nation's course for the years to come.

In the legislative elections of 2023, the Luxembourgish electorate will not only select its 60 deputies for the Chamber of Deputies but will also play a pivotal role in shaping the composition of the next government.

Why is it important?

This process involves the election of ministers who will, in turn, form the new government, with the formateur typically becoming the prime minister.

What is its impact?

The stakes are high in these elections, as they will influence the direction of Luxembourg's policies, governance, and representation on both the national and international fronts.

The choices made by voters will have far-reaching consequences, impacting areas such as

Economy
Social welfare
Education
Role within the EU

As the nation prepares to cast its ballots, the legislative elections of 2023 stand as a cornerstone of Luxembourg's democratic tradition, where the power of the people holds the key to charting the course of the Grand Duchy's future.

Other upcoming elections

The next elections on Luxembourg's political horizon are the 2024 European Parliament elections. These multinational elections serve to elect the country's representatives to the European Parliament for fixed five-year terms. Luxembourg, as a member state of the European Union, holds the privilege of sending six delegates to the European Parliament.

These elections have been a prominent fixture since 1979
over 400 million individuals
Boasting one of the world's largest eligible voter bases, with over 400 million individuals entitled to participate.
second-largest democratic elections
They stand as the second-largest democratic elections globally, surpassed only by India's.

The upcoming 2024 European Parliament election is scheduled to take place from June 6 to 9, 2024.

This electoral event marks a significant milestone as the first European Parliament election following the United Kingdom's departure from the EU. Luxembourg's participation in these elections underscores its commitment to shaping European policies and representation, making it a crucial event in the Grand Duchy's political calenda.

How to participate and vote in the elections

In Luxembourg, your eligibility as a voter is automatically established through registration on the electoral rolls, a process overseen by the municipal administration, often initiated through the declaration of a newborn.

When it comes to casting your vote, you have two options: voting in person at polling stations or voting by correspondence.

In Luxembourg, voting is compulsory since the results of Luxembourg elections should depend on all persons eligible to vote. Voters unable to participate must provide valid reasons with necessary justifications to the territorially competent State Prosecutor. Those residing in a different commune at the time of the election or being over 75 years old are automatically excused from voting.

Voting in Person at Polling Stations

Receiving the Convocation
The municipality sends an informative convocation letter to each voter at least five days before the election. This letter outlines the date, opening and closing hours of the polling station, its location, and, if multiple polling stations exist, the designated one for the voter.
Voting
On the specified election day, indicated in your convocation letter (for instance, October 8, 2023, in the upcoming elections), you must visit the polling station mentioned in your convocation during the specified voting hours. Don't forget to bring your ID card or passport for identification.

Voting by Correspondence

Informing Your Municipality
If you opt for voting by correspondence, you must notify the municipality in your registered commune. This request can be made electronically through the portal myguichet.lu, on plain paper, or by using a pre-printed form available at your local municipal administration. If the convocation letter needs to be sent to an address abroad, the request must be made at least forty days before the election (by August 29, 2023). If the convocation letter is to be sent within the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the request must be made at least twenty-five days before the election (by September 13, 2023).
Receiving the Convocation
You should receive a convocation letter at least five days before the election, containing instructions and necessary materials for postal voting.
Filling out the Ballot
Once you receive the convocation, follow the enclosed instructions to complete your ballot.
Sending Your Vote
After completing the ballot, you should: 1) place the filled-out ballot in the voting envelope; 2) seal the voting envelope; 3) place the voting envelope inside the larger mailing envelope; 4) send the mailing envelope by post; the address is already printed on the envelope, and postage is not required.

Failure to vote without valid justification results in fines.

The first unexcused absence incurring a penalty ranging
from €100 to €250
Recidivism could lead to fines ranging
from  €500 to  €1,000

Political parties in Luxembourg

Understanding the affiliation of candidates with political parties is crucial when casting votes for deputies, as it provides insight into the values and ideals they uphold. Each political party in Luxembourg represents a distinct set of principles and positions along the political spectrum, ranging from left to right.

Familiarity with these parties and their orientations is essential for making informed and aligned voting choices that resonate with individual beliefs and interests. Here, we offer a brief overview of some of Luxembourg's most prominent political parties and their orientations:

Democratic Party (PD)
Advocating for a centrist position, the PD focuses on liberal principles and social issues.
Christian Social People's Party (CSV):
A Christian social party, the CSV leans conservative and promotes traditional values.
Luxembourg Socialist Workers Party (LSAP)
Rooted in social democracy, LSAP champions workers rights and social justice.
The Greens (déi gréng)
This party emphasizes environmental sustainability and social progress.
Pirate Party (PPLU)
Advocating for digital rights and civil liberties, the Pirate Party brings tech-driven perspectives to politics.
Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR)
This party represents right-wing and conservative viewpoints with a focus on sovereignty.
Communist Party (KPL)
Firmly situated on the radical left of the political spectrum, it is mainly an anti-capitalist, far-left ideological party.
The Left (déi Lénk)
Positioned on the left, La Gauche champions social justice, workers rights, and progressive policies.
Show all

Beyond the parties that are familiar to voters and even participate in the state process, political life does not stand still. New political factions are emerging in Luxembourg, offering voters fresh ideas and a new perspective.

Conservatives
Liberté - Fräiheet!
Focus
Volt
Elections
Parties
Leaders

Political Guide

faq

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What type of electoral system does Luxembourg use?

What is at stake in the 2023 legislative elections in Luxembourg?

How often are legislative elections held in Luxembourg?

Who is eligible to vote in Luxembourg for the legislative elections?

We took photos from these sources: Aditya Joshi for Unsplash

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