Yet another Luxembourg general assembly? What is going on?

*Point C of the dedicated factsheet contains voting instructions* Luxembourg local staff committee (LSC) has two, yes two(!) general assemblies (GAs) in the space of a week. You may recall that the Luxembourg LSC held a general assembly fairly recently, in May 2022. The purpose of that May GA was to vote on two proposals to change the electoral system for the LSC elections (due to happen in November 2022). One proposal was from Generation 2004 and one from Ensemble Luxembourg. While everyone agrees that the current (2016) system needs to be changed, it has proven difficult to find consensus on how exactly it should be changed. Here’s our analysis of the May proposals. Unfortunately, our May proposal did not pass, and neither did the other one.

While the results were frustrating, we accepted that we tried but ultimately, the November 2022 elections would be held under the old system (and that we would, of course, try again in the new LSC). But apparently, not everyone did. Perhaps someone got scared that Generation 2004 might win in the upcoming elections and, thanks to the current majority system, dominate the LSC? So, in the midst of the summer, another proposal to change the electoral system was submitted, and the LSC thus felt obliged to call a yet another general assembly. This hybrid general assembly is taking place Friday 2/9 at 12h30 (connection details can be found here).

Unfortunate timing

While we still strongly support efforts to replace this winner-takes-all (‘majority’) system with a proportional one, the timing raises concerns. Are we going to have a general assembly every few months until something passes? Why didn’t the proponents present their proposal already at the general assembly in May? Why did they wait until the summer, when the only possible time to call a valid GA according to the rules was still during school holidays? How representative will the results be? If the system is indeed changed, will there be enough time to adapt the voting IT system?

The proposals

In fact, there are (again) two proposals. One is mostly a copy-paste of the system currently in place in Brussels (‘Brussels system replicated’ (‘BSR’)), and thus it is rather complex. A voter can cast either a ‘list’ vote (a vote for a whole list, rather than for particular candidate pairs) or a ‘preferential’ vote (a vote for up to 20 candidate pairs from one or more lists). The 20 seats in the LSC are divided into two sections in proportion to the list votes and preferential votes cast; each type of vote only influences one section of the seats. The ‘list’ seats are then distributed among lists proportionally to the number of ‘list’ votes obtained by each list. The ‘preferential’ seats are also distributed proportionally (among lists, although the proposal does not say that explicitly) according to the number or votes obtained by the candidates on each list. Finally, within each list, the list seats are attributed to the candidates presented on the top of the list and the preferential seats are attributed to the candidates with the most votes.

The ‘BSR’ proposal is not without problems; some parts aren’t quite clear, some raise questions. For example:

  • The proposal introduces the concept of a leading candidate (tête de liste). This candidate is pretty much guaranteed to be elected – even if he or she does not receive any preferential votes.
  • There is no explicit provision for individual (independent) candidates (unaffiliated to any list).
  • Contract agents are only eligible to be elected if they have a contract longer than 1 year.
  • In the proposal, seats are distributed pro rata. However, the proposal does not explicitly say how to deal with fractions.
  • The proposal seems to insist on physical signatures on paper. It’s 2022, come on…
  • Some internal references are incorrect, such as the one in Article 7 (apparently, the result of copying & pasting from the Brussels rules and forgetting to renumber articles).
  • Only the French version is authentic.

The other proposal (‘fully proportional system’ (‘FPS’)) was drafted as a counterproposal in an effort to present a simpler alternative. It is actually a mix of the two proposals presented in May. It takes the Ensemble Luxembourg (May GA) counting method: voters vote for particular candidate-pair only (so there are no ‘list’ votes); for each list, the total number of crosses for all candidates on that list is summed up; seats are given to lists proportionally to this total number of crosses. However, the lists can present their candidates in any order they want; the order does not have to be alphabetic (as it is now).

When we tried to negotiate a common proposal for the May GA, the principles embodied in this second (counter)proposal would have been an acceptable compromise. However, the proposal, as tabled now, seems to have been drafted quite hastily, so it would benefit from a final and thorough read-through, in addition to some worked examples and a study of corner cases. Some issues we found include:

  • As was the case for the Ensemble Luxembourg proposal tabled in May, the proposal penalizes small lists, and makes it practically impossible for individual (independent/unaffiliated) candidates to be elected.
  • The proposal defines the notion of ‘candidates above the threshold’ but does not use it anywhere else. So, taking the proposal literally, the threshold has no effect.
  • The tie-resolution mechanism in Article 8 only applies to the final (20th) place. However, a tie can occur for any place, if it is the last seat attributed to a particular list.
  • The example given on page 10 of the proposal is misleading: according to Article 10, the threshold is calculated as a percentage of ballots, not votes. So, List 1 in the example did not just barely pass (5%) but actually had no problem getting in (their number of votes corresponds to 70% of ballots).


Our analysis shows that both proposals introduce a proportional system, so they would undoubtedly be an improvement over the current system. On the other hand, the BSR proposal is unnecessarily complex, while the ‘FPS’ one would benefit from a final review. So, we are in a dilemma: shall we grab the opportunity to introduce a potentially flawed but proportional system now, even at the risk of running into problems with hastily stitched-together proposals, or shall we refuse this ill-timed attempt, stay with the current rules for – hopefully – one last time, and leave the matter to the new LSC? The decision is ultimately in your hands.

As always, we would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us or leave a comment below.

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