The Minister of Home Affairs, Taina Bofferding, today presented the third pillar of the modernisation of municipal law, which is to anchor various tools of citizen participation in the law in order to promote their use and to harmonise their regime at municipal level.
Although various participatory instruments have been implemented by some municipalities in a disparate manner, the present bill promotes, on the one hand, the various instruments of citizen participation so that citizens make effective use of them by benefiting from a transparent and harmonised legal framework. On the other hand, it raises the awareness of local elected representatives so that they allow themselves to be guided by citizens in their political decisions. Indeed, citizens are showing an increasingly deep attachment to local life and wish to be actively involved in it, whether through local politics, associations or through thematic and specific citizen initiatives.
Thus, the bill intends to respond to this trend and offers citizens a range of tools to enable municipalities to govern better through a democratic practice closer to the citizen.
"Some municipalities have taken the lead in legislation and have built large-scale projects by relying on the participation of their citizens. However, due to the lack of a legislative framework, many municipalities do not make use of it, despite the advantages it offers for a better-defined local democracy. The present project intends to remedy this situation so that the citizens, authors of the general interest, can have their say and, together with the municipalities, shape the future", says Taina Bofferding.
Thus, citizens will have a more active role in municipal decision-making, in particular through the communal citizens' initiative, the bill's flagship participatory instrument. This new instrument is in line with the European citizens' initiative as defined by the European treaties and also with the right of legislative initiative, as supported by the new Luxembourg Constitution, which will become effective on 1 July 2023. This new tool will allow citizens aged 16 and over to express their expectations and to have the local council deliberate on the request resulting from the initiative.
In addition to the communal citizens' initiative, existing instruments are adapted. These are the local referendum, the citizens' consultation and the municipal council committees. The result of the referendum initiated by the municipal council will be binding and, in order to ensure that voters vote in full knowledge of the facts, an information dossier that describes the context and the purpose of the referendum will be distributed.
Finally, in order to guarantee the efficiency of the tools of citizen participation, the bill also aims to modernise the means and modalities of information and communication of the municipalities. Indeed, information is at the heart of representative democracy and is an essential prerequisite for any effective form of participation.
Moreover, municipalities have taken advantage of digitalisation by supplementing traditional communication channels with additional electronic channels. This diversification of information and communication tools thus strengthens the visibility of the actions of elected representatives and reaches the entire population. While leaving the municipalities the latitude to choose their communication and publication tools according to their context and possibilities, a minimum common base indispensable for local democracy will be established.
In conclusion, the Minister of Home Affairs believes that strengthening citizen participation at the municipal level, with the primary objective of better involving citizens in the political decision-making process, constitutes a societal priority that the government still wished to implement.
Press release by the Ministry of Home Affairs