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current affairs

Capital campaign: posters for the main parties in Luxembourg city

Over in the commune of Strassen Luiza Sosna, a Pole who has lived in Luxembourg for four years, is the commune’s officer in charge of integration and equal opportunities. She helped organise numerous registration drive events together with foreigners’ rights lobby group ASTI and the national reception and integration office OLAI. But the commune also reached out to potential foreign voters with a personal letter in three languages. “Personal contact and communicating in a language that foreigners understand really helps,” says Sosna. The result was that close to 700 foreigners registered to vote--around the national average of 20 percent participation. In Bertrange, McLean says that the intro­ duction of a foreigner’s commission and the initiation of a meet and greet evening to welcome new families have improved integration efforts. “We also organize a multi-cultural festival every other year; this is basically a forum for cele­brating our differences. But integration is a two way street, if you want to get involved you can, especially though sports and music clubs.”

Sosna is illegible to vote because she does not yet fulfil the minimum residen­c y requirement of five years, yet she believes the issues that most concern voters in Strassen are the high cost of housing and the incessant traffic flow along the route d’Arlon. “Otherwise we have a high quality of life for families and singles. We are close to the city and have plenty of crèche facilities.” In the capital, Evelyn McHale is generally impressed by the Ville de Luxembourg--“ in a nutshell, I can see where my taxes are going, and that is the highest praise that I can give to the city council”-and by mayor Paul Helminger’s immediate and unconditional support to the campaign to save Luxair’s Luxembourg to Dublin route. “There were no ‘ ifs, buts or maybes’, and I thought that was amazing.” Transport issues McLean is also impressed by Bertrange mayor Frank Colabianchi’s accessi­bility and efficiency. “I recently sent an email to our mayor asking if a bike path to the city was part of the new Shared Living plan and if we would get the Vel’oh! system.

I had an answer by the end of the day; now that is impressive.” However, while McHale is pleased with the city’s bus system--“what’s not to love?”--she is not convinced about one central issue that could play a major part in the election campaign; the plans for the tram through the city. “I’m surprised that such an inflexible mode of transport is being proposed for such a flexible country,” she explains. “A tram track cannot be deviated from when the City is putting on one of its great events--Braderie, Schueberfouer, Marathon, National Day celebrations etc--nor when the roads are being dug up for improvement, which they always are.” As a city centre resident, Cassandra Francis, on the other hand, is thrilled at the prospect of the tram and hopes that it will relieve some of the traffic problems in the centre and that the city will consider extending the network. Lisa McLean, who commutes in to the city from Bertrange, believes the tram project will be worth it in the long run. However, she is concerned about the disruption that will be caused while the network is being built. McLean is also delighted that more and more people cycle. “Although car and bus drivers still have to learn to respect cyclists, I don’t really get the feeling that the roads are shared equally, and that puts me off using my bike in town.” In her own commune of Bertrange, McLean is cautiously optimistic about the introduction of the Shared Space concept which, in theory, gives pedestrians, cyclists, motorists all equal rights on the road. “Many of the roads have been reduced to 30 km/hr to slow traffic down and discourage through traffic. It’s a great idea, if it works,” she says. As a new graduate seeking her first job, Francis is also excited about the city’s proposed car sharing scheme. As mothers with children who have been through the local school system, education and child care facilities are issues close to the hearts of McHale and McLean. The latter says she has seen

8 - delano - October 2011

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23.09.2011 10:04:46 Uhr

Delano October 2011  

Delano Magazine October 2011

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