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Dalia Asanavičiūtė

Referendum Failed – Will There Be No Dual Citizenship in Lithuania?

May 14, 2024

On May 12, Lithuania held a much-anticipated referendum that tens and hundreds of thousands of representatives of the Lithuanian diaspora around the world had pinned their hopes on. This was the second referendum on the issue, after the first one in 2019. Unfortunately, the results of the referendum failed to garner the necessary votes to amend Article 12 of the Constitution.

How Did This Happen?

A total of 1,413,288 people voted in the referendum, representing 58.96% of the total electorate. Of these, 74.13% voted “yes” – 1,026,408 people. However, more than 50% of the electorate must vote in favor of constitutional amendments to pass.

Since the number of registered voters as of May 12, 2024, was 2,385,234, at least 1,192,618 votes (50% + 1 vote) were required. As noted above, this number of “for” votes was not achieved.

What Was This Referendum About? Let’s Clarify

As it stands, the Lithuanian Constitution does not allow for dual citizenship, except in certain cases. According to Dalia Asanavičiūtė, a ruling TS-KD party member, currently, only about 1% of Lithuanian citizens hold dual citizenship. However, due to significant emigration from Lithuania following the restoration of independence on March 11, 1990, hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians found themselves living outside their native country. And now, if they acquire citizenship of the country where they have resided in recent years, they must renounce or risk revoking their Lithuanian citizenship. Despite Lithuania’s regard for its citizens, the current version of the Constitution mandates this.

Organizers of the referendum, including Dalia Asanavičiūtė, aimed to address this issue.

What Now? Is the Question of Dual Citizenship for Lithuanian Emigrants Closed?

Indeed, the prospects for a third referendum are bleak. Although the referendum held on May 12th demonstrated an increase in support for dual citizenship compared to the first referendum (which garnered around 900,000 votes in favor), there are no immediate plans for a third referendum.

Yesterday, on May 13th, Dalia Asanavičiūtė held a press conference in which she announced that legislators have another plan to address the issue of dual citizenship.

“Today, we have registered and submitted to the Seimas amendments to the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania. The draft law proposes that those who left the Republic of Lithuania after March 11, 1990, and acquired Lithuanian citizenship by birth, may retain Lithuanian citizenship, and those who acquired citizenship of a NATO member state and citizenship of a partner state of the European Union by birth may retain Lithuanian citizenship. This will narrow down the list of countries proposed in the referendum, whose citizens, upon acquiring Lithuanian citizenship, will be able to retain Lithuanian citizenship. Since the proposed exception applies only to member states of one organization, it will not undermine the essence of the citizenship institution, according to which a Lithuanian citizen can be a citizen of another state only in specific cases provided by law.”

Who Among Those Who Left Lithuania After 1990 Can Have Dual Citizenship?

Even though Lithuanians who left Lithuania after 1990 cannot obtain second citizenship, there is an important exception for those with Lithuanian ancestry. If you have a Lithuanian ancestor who held Lithuanian citizenship before 1940 and left Lithuania before 1990, you might be eligible to restore your Lithuanian citizenship while retaining your current citizenship. This opportunity is one of the few exceptions permitted by law, offering a unique pathway to reconnect with your Lithuanian heritage and secure the benefits of dual citizenship.

If you think you qualify, don’t hesitate to contact us for a detailed assessment of your eligibility. Contact our team today to start your application and take the first step toward reclaiming your Lithuanian citizenship. Complete the website form, and our experienced legal team is here to guide you through the process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and making the journey as smooth as possible. Let us help you reconnect with your roots and explore the opportunities that dual citizenship can offer.

Thus, despite the failed referendum, for a large part of the Lithuanian diaspora, the issue of dual citizenship still has chances of a successful resolution. Well, let’s keep an eye on the developments with the submitted bill. Stay with us and stay updated on the latest news!

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