© Eric Steichen
A recent episode of the RTL Télé talk show, 'Kloertext,' posed a riveting question: how do individuals coexist in Luxembourg? Do they genuinely live together or merely share a geographical space?
Luxembourgish-Tunisian artist, Nadia Misri, explored this topic, highlighting the existence of parallel societies within Luxembourg, often operating independently of each other. Her thought-provoking short film, "A Place to Be," scrutinises questions of identity within these spheres. Misri underscored the crucial role language plays in this nation.
"The absence of the Luxembourgish language automatically results in exclusion from many aspects of everyday social life. Luxembourg is a small country, akin to a bubble, and without knowledge of the language, one finds themselves encased in a bubble within a bubble," Misri noted.
During the 2015 referendum, the majority of Luxembourgers voted against extending voting rights for legislative elections to foreigners. However, non-Luxembourgers are permitted to vote in municipal elections. In the 2023 municipal elections, one in five non-Luxembourgers registered to vote.
Juliette Ganschow, the daughter of a Russian mother and an American father, anticipates casting her first vote. She believes the participation rate might be influenced by people's awareness or lack thereof of their rights.
"Language barriers can prevent foreigners from realising they have the right to vote and need to register. While posters proclaiming 'Je peux voter' [I can vote] have been displayed at bus stops or online, they didn't really stand out all that much," Ganschow explained.
David Weis, a native Luxembourger immersed in an international milieu, contended that the country's political landscape does not adequately reflect its diversity, particularly at the national level.
"In the case of the municipal elections, there seems to have been a more concerted effort compared to a few years ago, but if you look at national politics… It's perhaps why many non-Luxembourgers refrain from voting, as they don't identify with the people they see on election posters," Weis said.
Weis expressed scepticism over whether this situation would shift for the impending legislative elections, noting that political parties are aware that the average voter is Luxembourgish.
The short film 'A Place to be'
During the show, a portion of the short film "A Place to Be" was presented. It investigates the distinct worlds coexisting within Luxembourg, examining prejudices and the often-difficult dialogue between long-time residents and those of varied cultural backgrounds.
The film, co-authored by young British artist Benjamin George Coles and Nadia Misri, provides a touching exploration of these matters. The short film can be viewed in its entirety here, with most of it in English and some parts in French: