Over 1.1 mln 'yes' votes needed for Lithuania to allow multiple citizenship – MP

  • 2023-04-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Over 1.1 million Lithuanian citizens would have to vote in favor of multiple citizenship in a referendum for the constitutional amendment to be approved, MP Dalia Asanaviciute, head of a joint commission of the Seimas and the Lithuanian World Community (LWC), said on Friday. 

"The Central Electoral Commission has calculated that more than 1.1 million 'yes' votes would be needed for the outcome (of the referendum) to be positive and for us to be able to amend Article 12 of the Constitution, which is a really big number," she told a news conference.

Jonas Bruzas, the commission's co-chairperson from the LWC, said that it is necessary to ensure that voters' lists are accurate and do not include deceased people or those who are no longer eligible to vote. 

The parliament has already started debating a resolution that calls for holding a multiple citizenship referendum on May 12, 2024, in conjunction with the first round of the next presidential election. 

The resolution is expected to be passed in May.

Lithuania held a referendum on expanding possibilities for multiple citizenship in 2019, along with the presidential election, but it fell fewer than 300,000 "yes" votes short of adopting the proposed amendment. 

The detailed conditions, procedures and other matters for acquiring and losing dual citizenship would be set out in a constitutional law.

The draft Constitutional Law on Citizenship, which has already been drawn up, would allow Lithuanian citizens to keep their Lithuanian citizenship when they acquire the citizenship of another country that meets European and transatlantic integration criteria. These are members of the European Union, NATO, the European Economic Area, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

However, the draft law says that countries "which are also members of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or any other political, military, economic or other unions or commonwealths  established on the basis of the former USSR" do not comply with the criteria. 

People of Lithuanian descent, those who left Lithuania before it regained independence on March 11, 1990, and their descendants, those who married foreign nations and thus acquired their spouse's citizenship, and those granted refugee status in Lithuania would also be eligible for Lithuanian citizenship.

The law would also allow granting Lithuanian citizenship to a person for his or her merits.

More than 50 percent of all eligible voters must vote in favor of an amendment to the constitutional article on citizenship for it to be adopted.

Currently, people who left Lithuania after March 11, 1990 cannot hold dual citizenship, apart from a few exceptions. 

The Constitutional Court has ruled that this provision can only be changed via a referendum.