Expats call on Seimas to reject presidential veto on referendum threshold
"We called on the Seimas (...) to reconsider the amendment to the citizenship referendum, (...) to adopt the law and to immediately turn to the Constitutional Court so that it could pronounce its decision, leaving no questions as to the constitutionality," Rimvydas Baltaduonis, a member of the LWC board, said at a news conference on Thursday.
The Seimas of the LWC, the highest governing body of the Lithuanian emigrant community, held a sitting in Vilnius this week. In its resolutions, it called on the Lithuanian parliament to set a referendum date soon as possible and to allocate resources for an information campaign.
"The Lithuanian World Community and its board will work to ensure that all Lithuanians can retain their Lithuanian citizenship," Baltaduonis said.
Grybauskaitė earlier this week vetoed the amendments to the Law on Referendum, saying that they might run counter to the Constitution.
The president underlined that she was in favor of granting dual citizenship to a larger number of people, but invited Lithuanians across the world to get together for legalizing such a possibility in a way that does not raise constitutional doubts.
Ramunas Karbauskis, leader of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), which has the largest number of seats in the Seimas, has confirmed that the Seimas plans to reject the president's veto and adopt the amendments sent back by her. That would require at least 71 votes in favor.
The parliament changed the Law on Referendum to require fewer votes for amending Article 12 of Chapter 1 of the Constitution, which speaks about Lithuanian citizenship, than for amending other articles of that chapter.
Currently, more than half of all citizens having the right of vote must say "yes" in a referendum to amend any article of Chapter 1. Under the amended law, amending Article 12 requires approval of more than 50 percent of all voters who turn out for the referendum, but no fewer than a third of all citizens with the right to vote.
The president says that the Seimas' proposal to specifically lower the threshold for a citizenship referendum from 1.25 million to 840,000 votes raises constitutional doubts and thus is very risky.
Lawyers and some members of the Seimas have criticized the amendments, passed on the last day of the spring session, saying that this will set a dangerous precedent that will make it easier to change other fundamental articles of the Constitution in the future.
As a precaution, the Seimas plans to turn to the Constitutional Court in the fall regarding the constitutionality of the adopted amendments.