Ahead of Luxembourg's municipal (local) elections on Sunday 11 June 2023, Chronicle.lu reached out to various candidates with links to the international community to learn about their reasons for getting involved in politics and where they stand on specific issues.
For the first time, all non-Luxembourgish residents over the age of eighteen could register to vote in this year's local elections, regardless of their length of residency. By the deadline of 17 April 2023, more than 50,000 foreign residents had registered to vote (about 20% of those eligible). A total of 379 out of 3,847 candidates are non-Luxembourgers; note that dual Luxembourg nationals are counted as Luxembourgers in this context.
The candidates interviewed in this series of articles are mainly non-Luxembourgers or dual nationals with an international background. Chronicle.lu thus had the opportunity to speak with Patrick van Egmond, who is standing as a candidate for the Greens (Déi Gréng) in Luxembourg City.
Born in the Netherlands but possessing a strong European (and Luxembourgish) identity, Patrick van Egmond has lived in Luxembourg City with his wife and two children since 2008.
Chronicle.lu: Why did you decide to stand in the 2023 local elections?
Patrick van Egmond: I became a member of Déi Gréng in 2020. From the beginning, I joined the group of active members. Last year, after the adoption of the legislation that made it easier for non-Luxembourg residents to participate and cast a vote for the municipal elections, I felt it of importance to become engaged as a candidate for the council of the City of Luxembourg. The council takes important decisions on what gets built, as well as how our children get safe to school, how our streets look like and how we live together. Our capital counts 133,000 inhabitants, of which 70% are foreigners. Many live like myself here already for years. I believe that it is crucial for each citizen to participate in those elections. Like with the Luxembourgish residents, there is so much knowledge and positive energy with the non-Luxembourgish residents. I want to act as a "translator" and unite all citizens and to contribute to making it a vibrant international place to live.
Why Déi Gréng? I am quite worried about the effect of climate change. Also, in Luxembourg, we physically experience the effects. In my discussions with François Benoy, Claudie Reyland and fellow greens I understood that so much more needs to be done to make this city not only more attractive, yet also resilient and climate neutral by 2035.
Chronicle.lu: What specific issues are you backing/promoting?
Patrick van Egmond: As a managing director of an international transport and mobility consultancy, I might be able to contribute with some good ideas on getting more citizens making use of a bicycle, improve the present functioning of resident parking, creating more liveable and green neighbourhoods, yet also how to deal with the electrification of the car fleet. I consider myself a green social liberal. Striving for equal changes for all citizens with a respect of the freedom of each individual with the given condition of the need for more environmental protection to be able to face the major threats to our environment. Only together we can deal with these challenges.
Chronicle.lu: Have you encountered any particular challenges as a non-Luxembourger/dual national, for example regarding language?
Patrick van Egmond: I finished my Economy studies in Amsterdam, worked in Lisbon and Toulouse. So, I learned how to speak Portuguese and French. As a Dutch [person], it is easier to understand and speak a bit of Luxembourgish. I am rather lucky with that because for most non-Luxembourgish residents, I believe that it is rather hard to learn Luxembourgish and to speak it well enough to really understand what is discussed in Luxembourgish politics and participate. Moreover, specifically in the city, it is easier to get around with French and sometimes even in Portuguese when living in a neighbourhood like Bonnevoie.
Chronicle.lu: Please tell us about your involvement in the international community in Luxembourg over the years.
Patrick van Egmond: I was the last years mostly active as a member of the parent association at the French school, [Lycée] Vauban.