What is the potential impact of the Luxembourgers living overseas, and how has this population grown over the years?

Meteoric Rise In Citizens

At the time of Luxembourg’s last election in 2018, there were 66,000 Luxembourgish citizens living abroad. As of 6/30/23, that figure made a meteoric jump to 133,567 Luxembourgers. This growth is largely due to two major trends.

The first is Luxembourg’s cost of living crisis pushing native Luxembourgers to look for more affordable housing in border countries (France, Germany and Belgium) or further away, such as Portugal, especially popular with retirees.

However, there is another more unique trend which is also contributing to this growth: the Luxembourgers in the Americas, especially Brazil, the United States and Argentina. There, the growth trend is not due to recent immigration, but instead immigration over 100 years ago. In these countries, the growth in Luxembourgish citizens is due to recovering citizenship through a qualifying Luxembourg ancestor who immigrated to one of the three countries. At a recent event in Florianopolis, Brazil, these new citizens were dubbed by some Luxembourgish politicians as the “Luxembourgish diaspora”.

Image: Luxembourgish family who immigrated to Argentina

The growth trends of the Luxembourgish diaspora, when understood in the context of the upcoming legislative elections in Luxembourg, offer fascinating insights into the potential influence of overseas Luxembourgers on the country’s current and future domestic politics.

“The Luxembourgish Diaspora” – 2018

According to data from the National Register of Natural Persons (RNPP),the total number of Luxembourgish citizens living in the USA, Brazil, and Argentina has grown from 6,643 on 12/31/2018 to to 39,522 on 3/31/2023.

Let’s put that growth in perspective. Luxembourg’s last legislative election took place on October 14th, 2018. At that time, Luxembourg had a population of 610,778 of which 320,358 were Luxembourgish citizens. Only Luxembourgers can vote in the national legislative election and the total number of Luxembourgish resident voters was 259,887, or 81% of the Luxembourgers living in Luxembourg.

The deadline to register to vote from abroad in the 2018 election was September 4th, 2018. By combining RNPP data from the different dates published in 2018, we’d estimate that there were 2,576 Luxembourgers living in Brazil and 3,375 in the United States as of this date. The RNPP also publishes no data on which citizens abroad are minor children or adults over 18 years old (and therefore qualified to vote). Our own research shows that for the United States and Brazil, this number hovers around 29-30% being minor children. Therefore, approximately 1,803 potential voters in Brazil and 2,363 in the United States. Together, these two populations would be equal to 1.6% of the qualified Luxembourgish voters resident in the Grand Duchy.

“The Luxembourgish Diaspora” – 2023

Now, let’s fast forward to Luxembourg in 2023. There’s an election coming up on October 8th, 2023.

As of June 30th, 2023, Luxembourg had a population of 665,896, an increase of 55,118 or 9% over 5 years since the last election. In the June 2023 Communal Elections, there were 279,572 Luxembourgish citizen voters in the Grand Duchy.

Across the ocean, there were as of June 30th, 2023, 26,743 Luxembourgers in Brazil and 14,111 in the United States. We estimate based on our research that approximately 70% of these total citizens are over 18 years of age. That would give us 18,185 in Brazil and 9,595 in the United States. That whopping 27,781 eligible Luxembourgish voters would be equivalent to 10% of the Luxembourgish voters in the Grand Duchy.

Sticking to Reality

Despite these striking numbers, the actual participation of these overseas Luxembourgers in the elections is estimated to be significantly lower. The reality is that Luxembourgers living abroad are not legally obligated to vote and the process to vote from abroad can be cumbersome.

All the same, it might be interesting to look at past results to create an estimate of the Luxembourgish diaspora’s potential participation in the upcoming election. Luxembourg’s electoral law stipulates that citizens who have never lived in Luxembourg should vote in the capital, Luxembourg City. In 2018, the total number of international votes received in Luxembourg City came out to 1,078 validated ballots. While there is no information recorded on the origins of the international ballots received, even if we assumed in the unlikely scenario that all 1,078 ballots came from new Luxembourgers through ancestry in the United States and Brazil, that would still be less than 26% of the total eligible voters.

Image: Luxembourg Mail-In Ballot

However, it’s important to note that while overseas voting rates may appear low, the growing Luxembourgish diaspora’s potential political influence should not be underestimated. The growth in numbers over the last five years is so significant that it might not be possible to assume that past results may be reflected in the upcoming election. With the proportion of eligible overseas voters nearing 10% of total Luxembourg electors, even a small change in turnout could have a material impact on election outcomes.

As the 2023 Legislative Election approaches, it will be interesting to observe how these trends play out. Will overseas Luxembourgers show increased political participation? How might the rising influence of this group shape Luxembourg’s domestic politics in the years to come? These are questions we should keep in mind as we delve further into this unprecedented situation.