The Lithuanian Electoral System

The Lithuanian electoral system consists of elections to the parliament, the office of the president, the councils of local governments and referenda.

The parliament (Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas or Seimas) consists of 141 parliamentarians elected for a four-year term. The parliament is considered to be elected when three-fifths of parliamentarians have been elected. Regular elections to the Seimas are held no earlier than two, and no later than one month prior to the expiry of the term. Pre-term elections to the Seimas may be held (1) upon the decision of a three-fifths majority of all parliamentarians; (2) upon the decision of the President if the Seimas fails to adopt a decision on a new programme of the Government within 30 days of its presentation; (3) if the Seimas twice in succession disapproves of the Government programme within 60 days of its initial presentation; (4) or, upon proposal of the Government, if the Seimas expresses direct no confidence in the Government. The President may not, however, announce early elections to the Seimas if his own term expires within less than six months, or if six months have not passed since early elections to the Seimas. The election to the new Seimas must be held within three months from the adoption of the decision on pre-term elections.

The first name of the Lithuanian parliament was the Supreme Council of Lithuania (Lietuvos Aukčiausioji Taryba or Auksčiausioji Taryba), renamed the Constitutive Assembly (Atkuriamasis Seimas) in 1996. It contained 141 representatives, whose selection took place in single-mandate constituencies in the election of 1990. For the elections to be valid, a turnout of 50 per cent was required. If the turnout in individual constituencies was lower, new elections had to be called. For a straight win, candidates had to receive an absolute majority of the votes. If a winner emerged in the first round, the two top candidates advanced to a second round, in which the winner was declared by a simple majority.

The electoral system was changed prior to the 1992 Seimas elections. Seventy-one of the 141 mandates were to be contested in single-member constituencies, while the remaining 70 were to be elected under proportional representation in a single, countrywide district. The deputies were to be elected for a four-year term. Any citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who, on the day of election, has reached the age of 25 and is a permanent resident in Lithuania, can run for parliament.

In single-mandate constituencies, a candidate who obtains more than 50 per cent of the votes in the first round cast is considered elected, provided that at least 40 per cent of eligible voters participate in the election. If the turnout is below 40 per cent, the candidate who receives a majority of votes and the votes of at least one-fifth of all registered voters is declared the winner. When no winner emerges, the two front-runners have to contest a second round. In the second round, a simple majority is sufficient. When only two candidates participate in the first round and both fail to obtain 50 per cent plus one vote, new elections have to be held. The electoral system was modified for the 2000 Seimas election. According to the amendments, the two-round format in single member constituencies was abandoned in favour of a simple form of plurality system - the First Past the Post system. If candidates received an equal amount of votes, the older candidate becomes parliamentarian. The October 2004 election saw a return to the two-round format, with single-member candidates needing more than 50 per cent of the vote to be elected.

In the multi-member constituencies, more than 25 per cent turnout is required for the elections to be valid. In order to qualify for seat distribution, parties and political movements must overcome a nation-wide threshold, originally set at 4 per cent, but raised to 5 per cent for individual parties and 7 per cent for joint lists in 1996. There was no threshold for national minority parties in the general election of 1992. This exemption was abolished before the 1996 general elections. Seats are distributed according to the Hare quota, where all votes for parties above the electoral threshold are pooled. The pool is divided by 70, equivalent to the total number of seats allocated in multiple-member constituencies. The votes of the individual parties are divided by the divisor. Remaining unallocated mandates are allocated to parties whose remainder is closest to the divisor.

The President is elected in direct elections. A candidate who obtains more than 50 per cent of the votes in the first round cast is considered elected, provided that at least 50 per cent of all eligible voters participate in the election. If the turnout is below 50 per cent, the candidate who receives the majority of votes and the votes of at least one-third of all registered voters is declared as the winner. If no candidate obtains more than 50 per cent of the votes, a second round between the top two frontrunners is to be held within two weeks. The candidate who obtains the majority of all votes cast in the second round is considered elected, regardless of the turnout. If only two candidates run in the first round and neither obtains an absolute majority, or at least one-third of votes of all eligible voters, new elections are called. The President is elected for a five-year fixed term and may be elected for a maximum of two terms. The president-elect must immediately suspend his or her party membership.

In 1992-96, members to local representative bodies (Savivaldybių tarybos) were to be elected for a two-year term, which was extended to a three-year term in December 1996, and to a four-year term in June 2002. Mandates for lists of candidates are distributed according to the number of votes received by each list in each constituency. The number of local governments increased from 56 in 1997 to 60 in 2000. The threshold for entering local assemblies is 4 per cent for parties and 6 per cent for coalitions.

All issues that are considered to be of uttermost importance for the state and its citizens are to be decided by referendum. Referenda are either mandatory or consultative (deliberative). Petitions of at least 300,000 eligible citizens can also call for a referendum. A group of at least one-fourth of all MPs may also submit a proposal to the Seimas to call a referendum.

Mandatory referenda are called for the following issues: amendments to the provision of Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania that 'the State of Lithuania shall be an independent and democratic republic'; amendments to the provisions of Chapter I of the Constitution ('the State of Lithuania'); amendments to the provisions of Chapter 14 of the Constitution ('Amending the Constitution'); amendments to the Constitutional Act, dated June 8, 1992 ('On Non-Alignment of the Republic of Lithuania to Post-Soviet Eastern Alliances'); regarding participation by the Republic of Lithuania in international organizations, should this participation be linked with partial transfer of the scope of competence of Government bodies to the institutions of international organizations or the jurisdiction thereof. Mandatory referendums may be held also with regard to other laws or provisions in which 300,000 citizens have signed a petition for, or the Seimas can submit a proposal to be decided in a referendum. Consultative (deliberative) referendums may be held with respect to other issues of great importance, but when a mandatory referendum is not deemed necessary. They are either proposed by at least 300,000 eligible voters or by the Seimas.

A mandatory referendum is considered valid if the turnout is above 50 per cent of all registered voters. Resolutions regarding the provision of Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania ('The State of Lithuania shall be an independent, democratic Republic') and concerning the Constitutional Act of June 8, 1992 ('On Non-Alignment of the Republic of Lithuania To Post-Soviet Eastern Alliances') are considered adopted if at least 75 per cent of all eligible voters have approved them. Resolutions regarding amendments of the provisions of Article 1 of the Constitution ('The State of Lithuania') and Chapter 14 ('Amending the Constitution') are considered adopted if more than 50 per cent of all eligible voters have given their approval. Resolutions regarding other issues, laws or provisions that have been deliberated in a mandatory referendum are considered passed if more than 50 per cent of votes cast and at least one-third of all eligible voters approve them (for instance in the case of the referendum on the European Union membership, held on 10-11 May, 2003). Decision on issues regarding participation by the Republic of Lithuania in international organizations, should this participation be linked with partial transfer of the scope of competence of Government bodies to institutions of international organizations or the jurisdiction thereof, are deemed adopted if it has been approved by more than 50 per cent of votes cast. A consultative (deliberative) referendum is considered valid if the turnout is more than 50 per cent of all eligible voters. Resolution is adopted if at least 50 per cent of votes cast are in favour.

Sources:

Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania [Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucija], Valstybės zinios, 1992, Nr. 33-1014, amendments included.

Law on the Amendment of the Law on Elections to the Seimas [Lietuvos Respublikos Seimo rinkimų įstatymo pakeitimo įstatymas], Valstybės zinios, 2000, Nr. 59-1760.

Law on Presidential Elections, [Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidento rinkimų įstatymas], Valstybės zinios, 1993, Nr. 2-29, amendments included

Law on the Amendment of Article 119 of the Constitution [Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucijos 119 straipsnio pakeitimo įstatymas], Valstybės zinios, 1996, Nr. 122-2863.

Republic of Lithuania Law on the Amendment of Article 119 of the Constitution [Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucijos 119 straipsnio pakeitimo įstatymas], Valstybės zinios, 2002, Nr. 65-2629.

Law on Elections to Municipal Councils [Lietuvos Respublikos savivaldybių tarybų rinkimų įstatymas], Valstybės zinios, 1994, Nr. 53-996, amendments included.

Law on Referendum [Lietuvos Respublikos referendumo įstatymas], Valstybės zinios, 2002, Nr. 64-2570.

Adapted from: Berglund, Sten, Ekman, Joakim, and Aarebrot, Frank H., 2004. The Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe. Second Edition. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Elections in Lithuania

Seimas: Parliament

  1992 1996 2000 2004
Turnout: 75.2 52.9 58.6 45.9
  Votes % N Seats   Votes % N Seats   Votes % N Seats   Votes% N Seats  
  List SMD List SMD Total % List SMD List SMD Total % List SMD List SMD Total % List List SMD Total %
1 Democratic Labour Party 44.0 34.2 36 37 51.8 10.0 11.1 10 2 8.6 - - - - - - - - -
2 Sajudis Coalition 21.2 18.4 17 13 21.3 - - - - - - - - - - - -   -
3 Christian Democrats 12.6 11.8 10 8 12.8 10.4 13.2 11 5 11.5 3.1 4.8 0 2 1.4 - -   -
4 Social Democrats 6.0 8.9 5 3 5.7 6.9 7.3 7 5 8.6 - - - - - - -   -
5 United Lithuania 3.6 1.3 0 1 0.7 - - - - - - - - - - - -   -
6 Centre Union 2.5 2.4 0 2 1.4 8.7 6.8 9 5 10.1 2.9 6.1 0 2 1.4 - -   -
7 Lithuania's Poles 2.1 1.9 2 2 2.8 3.1 2.8 0 2 1.4 1.9 2.8 - 2 1.4 3.8 0 2 1.4
8 National Union 2.0 5.1 0 4 2.8 2.2 3.8 0 3 2.2 - - - - - 0.2 0 0 0
9 Liberal Union 1.5 2.6 0 0 0.0 1.9 2.7 0 1 0.7 17.3 15.6 16 18 24.1 - - - -
10 Liberty Union 0.4 0.3 0 0 0.0 1.6 0.9 0 0 0.0 1.3 1.6 - 1 0.7 0.3 0 0 0
11 Freedom League 1.2 0.6 0 0 0.0 1.0 0.5 - - - - - - 0 0.0 - - - -
12 Nat'l Progress Mov't 1.1 3.2 0 0 0.0 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13 Moderates' Mov't 0.7 2.2 0 0 0.0 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14 Chernobyl Mov't 0.3 - 0 0 0.0 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
15 Homeland Union - - - - - 31.3 28.7 33 37 50.4 8.6 7.1 8 1 6.4 14.6 11 14 17.7
16 Young Lithuania - - - - - 4.0 1.7 0 1 0.7 1.2 1.1 0 1 0.7 - - 0 0
17 Women's Party - - - - - 3.9 2.8 0 1 0.7 - - - - - - - - -
18 Christian Democratic Union - - - - - 3.2 1.6 0 1 0.7 4.2 2.3 0 1 0.7 - - - -
19 National Minorities - - - - - 2.6 1.7 0 0 0.0 - - - - - - - - -
20 Peasants' Party - - - - - 1.7 2.2 0 1 0.7 4.1 6.6 0 4 2.8 - - - -
21 Russian Union - - - - - 1.7 0.9 0 0 0.0 - - - - - - - - -
22 Political Prisoners & Deportees - - - - - 1.6 1.9 0 1 0.7 - - - - - - - - -
23 Economy Party - - - - - 1.3 2.0 0 0 0.0 - - - - - - - - -
24 A. Brazauskas Coalition - - - - - - - - - - 31.1 20.0 28 23 36.2 - - - -
25 New Union (Social Liberals) - - - - - - - - - - 19.6 15.4 18 11 20.6 - - - -
26 Moderate Conservative Union - - - - - - - - - - 2.0 2.9 0 1 0.7 - - - -
27 For a Fair Lithuania - - - - - - - - - - 1.5 0.4 0 0 0.0 - - - -
28 Labour Party - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 28.6 22 17 27.7
29 Liberal and Centre Union - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9.1 7 11 12.8
30 Peasants and New Democrats - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6.6 5 5 7.1
31 Working for Lithuania* - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 20.7 16 15 22.0
32 For Order and Justice** - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11.4 9 2 7.8
33 Christian Conservative Social Union - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2.0 0 0 0
34 Lithuanian Christian Democrats - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1.4 0 0 0
  Others 0.9 7.2 0 1 0.7 2.8 7.5 0 4 2.9 1.4 13.3 0 4 2.8 1.4 0 6 4.3
  Total 100 100 70 71 100 100 100 70 69 100 100 100 70 71 100 100 70 71 100

*Includes Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (20 seats) and New Union (Social Liberals) (11 seats).
**Includes Liberal Democratic Party (10 seats).

Sources:

Central Electoral Committee, 2002. "Vyriausioji rinkimu komisija," http://www.lrs.lt/rinkimai. Accessed January 21, 2003; Central Electoral Committee, 2004. Elections to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, 2004. http://rez.vrk.lt/rinkimai/2004/seimas/rezultatai/rezv_e_20_1.htm. Accessed 14 October and 1 November. Essex University, 2001. "Political Transformation and the Electoral Process in Post-Communist Europe," http://www2.essex.ac.uk/elect/database/indexElections.asp. Accessed 2 September 2002; Lithuanian Department of Statistics, 1997. Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania, 1997. Vilnius: Methodical Publishing Center.

Table 13.2a Presidential Vote: 1993

    %
Electorate 2,586,015  
Valid Votes 1,984,997 76.8
Invalid Votes 34,016 1.3
Total Votes 2,019,013 78.1
     
Algirdas Brazauskas, LDDP 1,212,075 61.1
Stasys Lozoraitis, Sajudis 772,922 38.9

Source: Lithuanian Department of Statistics, 1997. Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania, 1997. Vilnius: Methodical Publishing Center.

Table 13.2b Presidential Vote: 1997-1998

  1st Round % 2nd Round %
Electorate 2,624,312   2,630,681  
Valid Votes 1,852,468 70.6 1,921,806 73.1
Invalid Votes 22,680 0.9 15,980 0.6
Total Votes 1,875,148 71.5 1,937,786 73.7
         
Valdas Adamkus, Ind. 516,798 27.9 968,031 50.4
Arturas Paulauskas, Ind. 838,819 45.3 953,775 49.6
Vytautas Landsbergis, TS-LK 294,881 15.9 -- --
Vytenis Andriukaitis, LSDP 105,916 5.7 -- --
Kazys Bobelis, LKDU 73,287 4.0 -- --
Rolandas Pavilionis 16,070 0.9 -- --
Rimantas Smetona 6,697 0.4 -- --

Source: Central Electoral Commission, 2002. "Vyriausioji rinkimu komisija," http://www.lrs.lt/rinkimai. Accessed January 21, 2003.

Table 13.2c Presidential vote: 2002-2003

  1st Round % 2nd Round %
Electorate 2,719,608   2,727,805  
Valid Votes 1,447,117 53.2 1,421,639 52.1
Invalid Votes 19,419 0.7 14683 0.5
Total Votes 1,466,536 53.9 1,436,322 52.7
         
Valdas Adamkus 514,154 35.5 643,870 45.3
Rolandas Paksas, LLDP1 284,559 19.7 777,769 54.7
Arturas Palauskas, NS-SL 120,238 8.3 -- --
Vytautas Serenas 112,215 7.8 -- --
Vytenis Andriukaitis, LSDP 105,584 7.3 -- --
Kazimira Prunskiene, VNDP2 72,925 5.0 -- --
Juozas Petraitis 54,139 3.7 -- --
Eugenijas Gentvilas, LLS 44,562 3.1 -- --
Julius Veselka 32,293 2.2 -- --
Algimantas Matulevicius 32,137 2.2 -- --
Kazys Bobelis 27,613 1.9 -- --
Vytautas Matulevicius 26,888 1.9 -- --
Kestutis Glaveckas 7,554 0.5 -- --
Vytautas Sustauskas 5,372 0.4 -- --
Vytautas Bernatonis 3,546 0.2 -- --
Algirdas Pilvelis 2,074 0.1 -- --
Rimantas Dagys 1,264 0.1 -- --

Source: Central Electoral Commission, 2002. "Vyriausioji rinkimu komisija," http://www.lrs.lt/rinkimai. Accessed January 21, 2003.

1 Lithuanian Liberal Democratic Party (Lietuvos Liberaldemokratu Partija, LLDP). Formed by Paksas in 2001.

2 Union of Farmers and New Democratic Party (Valstieciu ir Naujosios Demokratijos Partiju Sajunga, VNDPS). A coalition of LVP and NDP.

Presidential Election 13, 27 June 2004

  First (%) Second (%)
Electorate 2,655,309   2,659,211  
Valid Votes 1,245,360 46.9 1,374,915 51.7
Invalid Votes 39,707 1.5% 20,188 0.8
Total Votes 1,285,067 48.4 1,395,103 52.5
         
Valdas Adamkus, Ind. 387,837 31.1 723,891 52.7
Kazimira Prunskiene, NDS 264,681 21.3 651,024 47.4
Petras Austrevicius 240,413 19.3 - -
Vilija Blinkeviciute, NS 204,819 16.5 - -
Ceslovas Jursenas, LSDP 147,610 11.9 - -

Source: Central Electoral Committee, http://wwww.vrk.lt/rinkimai/2004/rezultatai/rez_e_19_1.htm and ~/rez_e_19_2.htm. Accessed 8 October 2004.

Materials on this page adapted from: Rose, Richard and Munro, Neil, 2003. Elections and Parties in New European Democracies. CQ Press: Washington, D.C.

European Parliament Election in Lithuania, 13 June 2004

Turnout 48.4%
  National Parties EP group % Vote Seats % Seats
1 Democratic Labour Party ADLE 30.2 5 38.5
4 Social Democratic Party PES 14.4 2 15.4
15 Homeland Union EPP-ED 12.6 2 15.4
6 Centre Union ADLE 11.2 2 15.4
30 Peasants & New Democrats (VNDPS) UEN 7.4 1 7.7
35 Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) UEN 6.8 1 7.7
  Others - 17.4 0 0
  Total   100.0 13 100.0

Source: European Parliament, 2004. European Elections 10-13 June. Http://www.elections2004.eu.int/ep-eleection/sites/en/results1306/countries/lt/table.html. Accessed 14 October.


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