1919 Luxembourg referendum

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]

1919 Luxembourg head of state referendum
28 September 1919

Grand Duchess Charlotte
Retain the dynasty, but replace Charlotte
Retain the monarchy, but replace the dynasty
1919 Luxembourg economic union referendum
28 September 1919



Head of state

Choice Votes %
Grand Duchess Charlotte66,81177.8
Retain the dynasty, but replace Charlotte1,2861.5
Retain the monarchy, but replace the dynasty8891.0
Invalid/blank votes5,113
Registered voters/turnout126,19372.1
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Economic union

Choice Votes %
Invalid/blank votes8,609
Registered voters/turnout126,19372.1
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] 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, as although the monarchy still had its detractors, particularly amongst socialists, its importance as a political issue waned considerably.[4] An exception was the city of Esch-sur-Alzette, in which the majority (55%) voted for becoming a republic.[5] In Luxembourg City only 33% voted for a republic.[5]

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, but negotiations with the French government proceeded nonetheless, before collapsing in May 1920.[6] This prompted the government to turn to Belgium, and within a year, negotiations had been settled, and a treaty signed on 25 July 1921 to create the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (UEBL).[3] Due to the referendum result, and a lingering distrust of Belgium's political motives, the public in Luxembourg greatly resented the treaty.[4] 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.[7]


  1. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1244 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. Nohlen & Stöver, p1252
  3. Kathryn Anne Davis (1994). Language Planning in Multilingual Contexts: Policies, Communities, and Schools in Luxembourg. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 90-272-4111-2.
  4. The European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia, Spencer Tucker, Laura Matysek Wood, Justin D. Murphy, Taylor & Francis, 1999, page 450
  5. Gilbert Trausch (2003) Histoire du Luxembourg, p240
  6. Robert Boyce (2005). French Foreign and Defence Policy, 1918-1940: The Decline and Fall of a Great Power. Routledge. pp. 74–75. ISBN 978-1-134-74826-6.
  7. Fontana economic history of Europe, Volume 6, Part 1, Carlo M. Cipolla, 1976, page 4