In the run-up to Luxembourg's municipal (local) elections, which are taking place on Sunday 11 June 2023, Chronicle.lu reached out to various candidates with links to the international community to learn why they got involved in politics and where they stand on specific issues.
All non-Luxembourgish residents over the age of eighteen could register to vote in this year's local elections, regardless of their residency duration. By the deadline of 17 April 2023, more than 50,000 foreign residents had registered to vote (about 20% of those eligible). Moreover, 379 out of 3,847 candidates are non-Luxembourgers (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 Jane Exall, who is standing as an LSAP (Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party) candidate in Mamer.
Originally from London (UK), Jane Exall moved to Luxembourg with her family eight years ago when her husband secured a job here. She noted that the latter has family who have lived in Mamer for over 25 years and who have helped them integrate. Jane joined LSAP in summer 2022 and this is her first time running as a candidate.
Chronicle.lu: Why did you decide to stand in the 2023 local elections?
Jane Exall: Firstly I am a mum to four boys and two dogs. I work in the finance sector and I have a degree in Economics and Politics. I have always passionately worked on my Facebook group (discussed below) and a good friend of mine, Elaine Ganouni, who is part of the LSAP Mamer team suggested I join the team. I took my time to think about the opportunity and I decided to go for it. In Mamer, there are 51% non-Luxembourgish and I believe we can all make our voice heard and add to the vibrant mix of ideas. Integration and community are key for us and our future generations. I truly believe goals are achieved through a sense of belonging. I want to show people we can have our say at the table and blend with the very welcoming Luxembourgish community. For me, it is important for my children to see this too as they are Luxembourgish and I always want them to feel this is their home. Nobody wants to feel an outsider.
Chronicle.lu: What are your party's major issues in your constituency?
Jane Exall: We were really keen to have non-Luxembourgers register to vote. We made a video (by Tatiana Bondar) to encourage registration before the deadline (in at least ten languages). Obviously we look at housing, building works, integration issues, education, mobility and we explored the idea of a forest creche- the climate too is always being thought about. For example, we tried to not deliver too many leaflets and used social media a great deal through our campaign. Everything we have discussed and worked on is in brochure and online in various languages. I just hope people took the time to read it!
Chronicle.lu: What specific issues are you backing/promoting?
Jane Exall: I am promoting further integration and community, the need for a dog park in Mamer and I would also like to see Mamer host some local entrepreneurs in pop-up style shops and I also fully support a co-working area with a healthy, relaxed community style cafe where people can play board games and chill.
Chronicle.lu: Have you encountered any particular challenges as a non-Luxembourger/dual national (e.g. regarding language)?
Jane Exall: No. The LSAP Mamer have been so inclusive. Where needed they have always translated into English. I have been learning Luxembourgish and passed the "Sproochentest" in 2022, so I can understand a fair amount now. We really are a team of fifteen people, each with our own ideas and we fully support each other. When the LSAP talk about integration I know they mean it as they have fully embraced me into the team. We have our programme in English plus other languages and I myself have spoken/written in Luxembourgish/English on our promotional flyers/videos. Francine Closener and Roger Negri have fully supported my ideas and always encouraged me.
Chronicle.lu: Please tell us about your involvement in the international community in Luxembourg over the years.
Jane Exall: When I first arrived in Luxembourg, I became a member of the British Ladies Club Committee working on events. I met a number of people who I am still friends with today. I also started a group called "My Mamer" on Facebook to meet some friends in the area. The group has now over 2,300 members and is used widely in the community. I share information about local businesses and services. I also love to create events where people connect and make friends. Mamer is an amazing, vibrant place to live. I think we can all continue to integrate and help create that sense of community through further improving facilities, having fresh ideas and making our voice heard. No matter how long we live in Luxembourg for, we can make our area feel like "home" for that chunk of time and therefore have a richer quality of life.