Luxembourg, formally known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is an overall high-performing democracy. Global State of Democracy data show that Electoral Participation has consistently performed at a mid-range level, likely due to weak provisions in the country’s compulsory voting system. The system makes an exception for those over the age of 75 and excludes non-citizens from voting in national elections – the latter of which is a growing demographic. On the other hand, Judicial Independence – the country’s only other mid-performing sub-attribute – has shown the largest improvement in the last five years, mainly as a result of constitutional revisions. The Duchy is one of the four institutional seats of the EU, hosting several of the body’s vital agencies – notably the Court of Justice of the EU. Luxembourg has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world; it is an internationally renowned financial centre, relying heavily on banking and finance sectors while aiming for more economic diversification. Luxembourg is also home to a large share of non-citizens, hosts a significant foreign commuter population, and is known for its cultural and national diversity.
Politics in Luxembourg is particularly driven by its population growth and urbanization, which have given rise to a plethora of new issues such as mounting house prices. With its growing foreign-born population, both the government and the public continue to debate current laws regarding voting rights. Luxembourg does not allow non-citizens who are resident in the country to vote in national elections or referenda, meaning that more than 40 per cent of the current population has no political representation at the national level. While some attempts at expanding voting rights for non-citizens have succeeded, they have not been universally welcomed, with full voting rights rejected in a non-binding referendum in 2015. This has also led to a renewed focus on nationalism and identity politics, including debates over the country’s language. Survey data also show problems with racially motivated discrimination and violence. The government is addressing concerns, primarily through a national action plan on integration, which includes anti-discrimination measures and the promotion of diversity and equal opportunity.
Looking ahead, it will be important to watch Checks on Government, as some experts have raised concerns about insufficient government transparency in terms of public as well as press access to official government documents. Additionally, Luxembourg’s lack of ethnically/racially disaggregated data and gaps in laws criminalizing hate speech and hate crimes remain a concern in the context of worries about identity politics. Lastly, Luxembourg struggles with environmental protection. The country has made significant progress with wastewater treatment, but poor ecological quality and the high risk of pollution from agricultural sources may impact biodiversity and public health over the years to come. Together, these issues may impact Social Rights and Equality.
December 2022 | Constitutional reforms pass the Chamber of Deputies
Lawmakers voted to approve four proposals to amend the constitution by a large majority. The constitutional amendments were originally tabled in 2009 and were subsequently divided into four chapters covering judicial independence; organisation of the state, the monarchy, the government and religious communities; rights and freedoms (extending from the right to personal integrity to the right of asylum); and the Parliament and the Council of State. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel hailed the amendments as a significant step towards updating and modernising the constitution. The new constitution is planned to come into force in the summer of 2023. The reforms would reflect the reduced role of the Grand Duke, which is today largely ceremonial, in Luxembourg’s institutional practice, and seeks to strengthen parliamentary oversight mechanisms and reinforce judicial independence.