Lithuanian president slams move to lower referendum threshold as dangerous

Dalia Grybauskaitė

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Thursday criticized legislative initiatives to lower the referendum threshold as "irresponsible" and "dangerous", calling on lawmakers to instead look for ways to encourage voters to turn out for a dual citizenship referendum.

"The precedent proposed by the Seimas to lower the special constitutional protection for the fundamental values ​​of our state and our people is irresponsible and very dangerous," she said in a statement.

"I reiterate my call on the ruling parties not to look for artificial facilitations that are dangerous to the fundamentals of the state, but to work seriously to get people to come to polling booths," she said.

Ramūnas Karbauskis, chairman of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS), Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, Social Democratic Labor MPs Gediminas Kirkilas and Juozas Bernatonis and Rita Tamašunienė of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (LLRA-KŠS) propose to lower the referendum threshold for the entire Chapter 1 of the Constitution.

Under the new draft amendments to the Law on Referendum, a decision on amending an article of Chapter 1 and Chapter 14 is deemed as adopted if at least two-fifths of all citizens having the right of vote say "yes" in a referendum.

Currently, approval from more than a half of eligible citizens is needed to amend an article of the two chapters, which have a higher level of protection.

Around 2.5 million Lithuanian citizens have the right to vote.

The proposal was tabled after the parliament earlier this week upheld the president's veto of amendments lowering the referendum threshold exceptionally for Article 12 of Chapter 1, which defines citizenship.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has also been cautious in commenting on the latest initiative, saying that this may get lawmakers embroiled into disputes with the Constitutional Court.

A special working group proposes to hold a dual citizen referendum in tandem with next May's presidential election.

Source: BNS
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