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There have been twelve referendums in Lithuania since it declared independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. Because of strict requirements only four referendums were successful. Older Lithuanian laws required that more than a half of all registered voters (not a half of voters who participate) would vote in support of a proposal for it to become a binding obligation to the government. In 2002, this requirement was lowered to one third of all registered voters.
The procedure to call for a referendums is also challenging. The initiators need to present 300,000 signatures of registered voters in three months or the Seimas, Parliament of Lithuania, has to approve it by a fourth of all the members of the Seimas. Despite the difficulties, the idea to call referendums is very popular among the politicians.
In anticipation of referendum regarding the membership in the European Union, the Law on Referendum was passed on June 4, 2002.
The law prescribes that the voting is conducted based on democratic principles: universal, direct, and equal suffrage and secret ballot. There are two types of referendums: mandatory and consultative (deliberative). Mandatory referendums must be held to:
The law lowered the requirements for number of votes needed to approve the resolution. For consultative referendums, a half of all registered voters need to participate and a half of those participating need to vote in favor. Seimas then have a month to decide on the resolution. For mandatory referendums, instead of a half of all registered voters it now demands one third. In addition, more than a half of all voters need to participate and of those participating a half needs to vote in favor. There are exceptions to this rule:
The law also lowered the number of Seimas votes needed to announce a referendum from one third to one fourth. However, the requirements for citizen initiated referendum are the same: they need to collect 300,000 signatures of registered voters in three months.
The successful referendums are marked in light green, while failed ones are in pink. The color denotes which number was used to determine the outcome. Two referendums failed on two counts: they not only did not receive support from more than 50% of all registered voters, but also less than 50% of the voters came to vote. They are deemed not to have taken place.
|#||Date||Topic||Voter turnout (%)||Voted "Yes" (%)||Voted "No" (%)|
|from total||from voters||from total||from voters|
|1||February 9, 1991||Demand independence from the Soviet Union||84.74||76.46||90.24||5.54||6.54|
|2||May 23, 1992||Restore the institution of the President of Lithuania||59.18||40.99||69.27||15.13||25.57|
|3||June 14, 1992||Demand immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and compensation for damages from the Soviet Union||76.05||68.95||90.67||5.51||7.25|
|4||October 25, 1992||Approve the Constitution of Lithuania||75.26||56.75||75.42||15.78||20.98|
|5||August 27, 1994||Pass Law on Illegal Privatization, Depreciated Deposits, and Broken Laws||36.89||30.85||83.63||3.81||10.34|
|6||October 20, 1996||Amend Articles 55, 57, and 131 of the Constitution of Lithuania||52.11||33.86||65.00||9.18||17.63|
|7||October 20, 1996||Should the deposits be compensated by funds acquired from privatization||52.46||38.97||74.31||10.01||19.10|
|8||November 10, 1996||Amend Article 47 of the Constitution of Lithuania||39.73||17.24||43.41||15.91||40.05|
|9||May 10–11, 2003||Approve Lithuania's membership in the European Union||63.37||57.00||89.95||5.59||8.82|
|10||October 12, 2008||Extend the operation of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant||48.44||42.91||88.59||4.03||8.32|
|11||October 14, 2012||Approve the construction of Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant||52.58||18.52||35.23||34.05||64.77|
|12||June 29,2014||Ban sale of Lithuanian land to non-citizens||14.98||10.60||70.77||3.95||26.40|