With three weeks left to register to vote in the municipal elections, only 12.5% of eligible foreign residents have registered to cast their vote.
At present, only 12.5% of foreign residents have registered to vote in the municipal elections. This isn't unexpected as such; indeed it is broadly in line with what we have seen in previous years, where for instance only about 8.3% of foreign residents of Luxembourg city cast a vote in the last elections held in 2017.
This year's elections are open to yet more foreign voters, as the requirement that you must have lived in Luxembourg for five years to be eligible to vote in municipal elections has been abolished. One might thus expect to see an increase in non-citizen participation in the elections, but the figure thus far remains low.
Speaking to Lisa Burke on RTL Today Radio, Minister for Family Affairs and Integration Corinne Cahen argued the importance of registering to vote, stating that "if you live in Luxembourg ... and you are concerned about every day life .... you should also decide how the place you live should evolve, how it should look in the future."
While only citizens are eligible to vote in the legislative election - also held this year, on Sunday 8 October - foreign residents can have a say through voting in the municipal elections, and the result of these elections can have a real, wide, and tangible impact on the development of your local area.
Marc Hoscheid provided an overview of the municipal election system last week, outlining how the elections work, why there are two systems, which municipalities are set to merge following the elections, and briefly taking note of some of the decisions made on the municipal level.
This week, we will take a deeper look at the key areas through which municipal decisions have a real impact.
Urban planning, development, and housing
Each municipality is responsible for managing the land within its borders, issuing construction permits, zoning of areas for a specific purpose, and the development of public spaces.
It is the municipality that decides whether a specific plot of land can be used for commercial activities - or indeed whether a plot can be built on to begin with, and if so whether it may be used for the construction of an apartment complex or only for a single-family residence.
This happens through what are called the PAG and PAP (general and special development plans), which can also impact whether you are allowed to, for instance, build an extension or garden shed.
Anyone who has gone through the process of building a new home or renovating an extant one will doubtless be familiar with the need to seek approval at each step of the process from the municipality, and being in line with their regulations. These regulations are determined locally - though the PAG and PAP must also be approved by relevant ministries - meaning that the outcome of local elections can have a real impact on the physical future of the municipality.
Infrastructure and public works
Municipalities also oversee the maintenance and developments of local roads, cycling paths, public buildings, street lighting, signage, parking, car-free zones, and pedestrian areas.
If cycle paths in your municipality are in a state of disrepair, or if you find their quantity insufficient, this is generally a municipal-level issue where your vote can have an impact. The same holds true for parking regulation and the availability of publicly accessible parking spaces.
Equally if not more importantly, municipalities are also responsible for accessibility.
Environment and sanitation
Do you have concerns about the availability of recycling facilities or the frequency of waste collection, or if you find that the streets, pavements and parks are not kept sufficiently clean - these again are areas where your vote in municipal elections can have an impact.
Moreover, municipalities are responsible in part for environmental protection initiatives.
Schools and childcare
It is no secret that it's hard to get a spot at public nursery or creche, with the general advice being to apply as soon as you know that you are expecting to have any chance of getting a spot. The impact of this is exacerbated by the fact that private options are generally more expensive.
The funding, managing, infrastructure, and organisation of these facilities - as well as maison relais and organisation of primary schools - fall under the umbrella of municipal responsibility. Through zoning and business permit responsibility, municipalities also impact the offer of private nursery options.
Sport, parks, and leisure
Your municipal vote will impact the physical layout and availability of public leisure spaces and activities. The provision of park spaces and their design relies on local decisions, as do the provision of sport facilities, after-school activities, libraries, and cultural venues.
Event organisation also requires permits issued locally by the municipality.
Business and property tax
In addition to issuing permits for some businesses and designating zones as commercial or residential, municipalities collect business tax revenue. They also collect property tax, and collect revenues through fees and taxes levied through, for instance, building permits, waste management, residence tax, and dog tax.