Luxembourg referendum, 1919

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A double referendum took place in Luxembourg on 28 September 1919.[1] Voters were asked questions on their preferred head of state and whether there should be an economic union with either France or Belgium. The majority voted to retain Grand Duchess Charlotte as head of state, and for economic union with France.[2]


Head of state[edit]

Choice Votes %
Grand Duchess Charlotte 66,811 77.8
Republic 16,885 19.7
Retain the dynasty, but replace Charlotte 1,286 1.5
Retain the monarchy, but replace the dynasty 889 1.0
Invalid/blank votes 5,113
Total 90,984 100
Registered voters/turnout 126,193 72.1
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Economic union[edit]

Choice Votes %
France 60,133 73.0
Belgium 22,242 27.0
Invalid/blank votes 8,609
Total 90,984 100
Registered voters/turnout 126,193 72.1
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


Both results were seen as being highly indicative of the country's will, and were acted upon. The result in favour of the monarchy was seen to be a Wilsonian act of self-determination, in opposition to the 'French' republic or the imposition of the Belgian dynasty. By defeating both of these prospects, the referendum result put a clear end to the Allied Powers' discussion of Luxembourg's destiny.[3] Historian Christian Calmes has said:

The political result was to have settled the national question, left the Grand Duchess as the incarnation of the nation itself, and settled the republican issue once and for all. Although the monarchy still had its detractors, particularly amongst socialists, its importance as a political issue waned considerably.[4]

The economic question was more difficult for the government to implement. Indeed, since 1917, France had promised Belgium free rein (economically) in Luxembourg, and had informally precluded a customs union. However, negotiations with the French government proceeded nonetheless, before collapsing in May 1920.[5] Thus, the government turned to Belgium. Within a year, negotiations had been settled, and a treaty signed on 25 July 1921 to create the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (UEBL). Due to the referendum result, and a lingering distrust of Belgium political motives, the public in Luxembourg greatly resented the treaty.[5] However, the treaty was still successfully ratified by the Chamber of Deputies on 22 December 1922, with 27 votes for, 13 against, and 8 in abstention.[5]


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1244 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p1252
  3. ^ a b Fayot, Ben (October 2005). "Les quatre référendums du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg" (PDF). Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party. p. 216. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  4. ^ Fayot (2005), p. 18
  5. ^ a b c Fayot (2005), p. 15