Lithuanian opposition seeks top court's opinion on referendum to cut size of parliament

  • 2019-02-21
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuania's opposition lawmakers have collected signatures on a petition asking for Constitutional Court's opinion on a new law on referendum and the ruling bloc's decision to hold a referendum on cutting the number of seats in the Seimas. 

"We are turning to the Constitutional Court, because the court itself has noted that the Law on Referendum, which was amended last December, might not comply with the Constitution," Gabrielius Landsbergis, leader of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), told BNS.

"The Law on Referendum has to be amended as a constitutional law, and this issue needs to be looked at deeper to answer the question if people are invited to vote in a Constitution-compliant referendum. In my understanding, it is non-complaint, but let's wait for the Constitutional court's opinion," he added.  

The petition has been signed by HU-LCD, Liberal and Social Democratic lawmakers, and several non-attached members of the Seimas. 

The initiators continue gathering signatures after collecting the necessary 29 ones. 

The petition, initiated by the HU-LCD, questions the constitutionality of the new Law on Referendum, in force since January 1, and the planned referendum on reducing the size of the parliament, which has been announced based on the new law. 

The opposition lawmakers ask the Constitutional Court to examine the legislation as soon as possible, saying "very important decisions may be adopted on the basis of legislation that may not be compliant to the Constitution, thus raising reasonable doubts about the legal validity of these decisions". 

The Seimas last week passed a resolution to hold a referendum on May 12, in tandem with the first round of voting in the presidential election, on cutting the number of seats in the Seimas to 121, from the current 141 seats.

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) say they are delivering on their election promise to reduce the size of the parliament, but the opposition criticize the move as populist.