Dual citizens have the wonderful opportunity to vote and participate in Luxembourg’s elections, just like any native citizen would. We often receive a lot of questions about voting in Luxembourgish elections. Most specifically: Is it mandatory to vote in Luxembourg?
Obligation to Vote in Luxembourg
If you live in Luxembourg, it is required by law to vote. More concretely, voting is an obligation for a citizen who is registered as living in a Luxembourgish commune. That said, no penalties have ever been issued for non-participation.
A Luxembourg Absentee Ballot’s cover envelope
There is an exception to this rule, though. After age 75, it is no longer an obligation to vote in Luxembourg. Unlike in the US where elderly citizens are avid voters, many Luxembourgish citizens no longer participate in elections after age 75.
For Luxembourgish citizens living abroad, there is no obligation to participate in Luxembourgish elections. It is, rather, a right and privilege. So, there is no need to be concerned about facing penalties or having problems if you do not vote in Luxembourgish elections.
If you are interested to vote, it is possible to request an overseas ballot, like we do in the US. In Luxembourg, this is called “voting by correspondence.”
If you’re interested in voting in Luxembourgish elections, you may want to know in which specific elections you have the opportunity to vote.
There are 3 types of elections in Luxembourg
City elections happen on a recurring basis, but it’s not that common for citizens abroad to vote by correspondence (submit absentee ballots) for city elections. What would happen, though, is that if you did live in Luxembourg, you’d have the opportunity to vote for your city councilman. For example, in Luxembourg City, if you are on the electoral list, you would be voting for 27 communal council members. All other communal councils consist of just 7 to 19 council members.
On the other hand, most citizens abroad will participate in these elections. The legislative election happens once every approximately five years, and it is for 60 members of the Chamber of Deputies. Luxembourg is split up into different circumscriptions, which are like voting districts, including North, South, West, and Center. Foreign-born citizens who have never lived in Luxembourg City will be put on the voting roster in Luxembourg City by default. In Luxembourg City, you vote for 21 Members of Parliament. Unlike the United States, you don’t vote for just one candidate. You have 21 votes to give out and you can give up to two votes to a single candidate.
To have your request for an absentee ballot approved, you must possess an unexpired Luxembourg passport or identity card. The next Luxembourg national legislative election will be held in October 2023. For more information about obtaining an absentee ballot, please visit https://guichet.public.lu/en/citoyens/citoyennete/elections/elections-legislatives/vote-correspondance-elections-legislatives.html
Finally, many people also vote via absentee ballot in the European elections. Held once every five years, European elections are for selecting Luxembourg’s six Members of the European Parliaments (called MEPs). The European Parliament is the legislative arm of the European Union. So, these five representatives of Luxembourg are contributing to the debate of making European Union law. And therefore, in some ways, they vote on bigger, more super-national matters.
From time to time, Luxembourgish citizens are also called to participate in referendums. Referendums can be called for various reasons, including when the government wants the input of the population on certain matters or when there is an amendment of the constitution. Dual citizens residing abroad can also request to vote in a referendum by writing to the College of aldermen of Luxembourg City following an announcement of a referendum.