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On the requirement for candidates for the positions of members of the Seimas or municipal council members to renounce the oath of a citizen of another state

Case No. 17/97

 

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF

THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

R U L I N G

 

On the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Elections to Municipal Councils with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania

 

Vilnius, 11 November 1998

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Egidijus Jarašiūnas, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zigmas Levickis, Augustinas Normantas, Vladas Pavilonis, Jonas Prapiestis, Pranas Vytautas Rasimavičius, Teodora Staugaitienė, and Juozas Žilys

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

The advocate Algimantas Dziegoraitis, acting as the representative of a group of members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner

Audronė Ožiūnienė, a consultant to the Seimas Legal Department, acting as the representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the party concerned

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 1 of Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 28 October 1998, in its public hearing, considered case No. 17/97 subsequent to the petition submitted to the Constitutional Court by a group of Seimas members, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas was in compliance with Paragraph 2 of Article 12, Article 29, Paragraph 1 of Article 33 and Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution, as well as whether Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils was in conformity with Paragraph 2 of Article 12, Article 29, Paragraph 1 of Article 33 and Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

On 9 July 1992, the Supreme Council-Reconstituent Seimas adopted the Law on Elections to the Seimas (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1992, Nos. 22-635 and 24-710; 1993, No. 10-234; 1994, No. 89-1718; 1995, No. 7-142; 1996, No. 62-1467).

On 7 July 1994, the Seimas adopted the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1994, Nos. 53-996, 63-1234, and 89-1719; 1995, Nos. 7-143 and 18-405; 1996, No. 126-2944; 1997, Nos. 50-1191 and 58-1331).

A group of Seimas members, the petitioner, requests an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas is in compliance with Paragraph 2 of Article 12, Article 29, Paragraph 1 of Article 33 and Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution, as well as whether Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils is in conformity with Paragraph 2 of Article 12, Article 29, Paragraph 1 of Article 33 and Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Constitution.

II

The petitioner grounds its request on these arguments.

Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils respectively obligate candidates for Seimas members and those for municipal council members, who have taken an oath of a citizen of another state, to repudiate the said oath in writing and to point out in their application form as to how and when they did so.

Refusal of an oath of a citizen is an expression of the will of an individual to cancel the legal link with the state to which he has sworn. However, the taken oath is binding on him until he loses the citizenship under the legal procedure of the said state. The stipulation established by the impugned norms of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and those of Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils to repudiate the oath of a citizen, by making an assumption that this is not linked with the refusal of citizenship, contradicts even the common legal principle lex non cogit ad impossibilia, i.e. the law never demands what is impossible.

It is established in the Constitution that, in cases provided for by law, a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may be a citizen of another state as well (Paragraph 2 of Article 12).

The general principle of the equality of persons is set down in Article 29 of the Constitution: “All persons shall be equal before the law, the court, and other State institutions and officials. A person may not have his rights restricted in any way, or be granted any privileges, on the basis of his or her sex, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, religion, convictions, or opinions.” The principle of the equality of persons is defined as non-discrimination. This principle is reflected by Paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution which establishes that citizens shall have the right to participate in the government of their State both directly and through their freely elected representatives, and shall have the equal opportunity to serve in a State office.

Discrimination is, as a rule, understood as changing the situation of a person or group of persons with respect to other persons without any valid reason.

The requirement to repudiate an oath of a citizen of another state established by the impugned norms of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and those of Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils allows assuming that a person who is a candidate for either Seimas or municipal council members and who, in the course of the procedure of the acquisition of another state’s citizenship, took an oath of a citizen of the said state, is forced to repudiate this citizenship. Thus, by the impugned legal norms the citizens are grouped as follows: (1) those who acquired foreign citizenship without any oath of a citizen, and who need not repudiate it and who may stand for election as Seimas or municipal council members (providing they meet the other conditions stipulated by law); (2) those who acquired foreign citizenship and who took an oath of a citizen. The latter acquire equal opportunities with the rest to become candidates for Seimas or municipal council members only after they have repudiated their foreign citizenship.

The Constitution shall be an integral and directly applicable statute (Paragraph 1 of Article 6), therefore, it is possible to conclude that the Constitution does not require that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who has foreign citizenship in particular cases as provided for by law repudiate the said citizenship so that he may stand for election as Seimas or municipal council member.

As additional arguments, the petitioner pointed out Articles 6, 8, 13, 14 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Article 3 of the First Protocol to the Convention.

In the Constitutional Court hearing, the representative of the petitioner virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in the petition.

III

In the course of preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court hearing, the representative of the party concerned A. Ožiūnienė presented these counter-arguments.

Paragraph 2 of Article 34 of the Constitution provides that the right to stand for election shall be established by the Constitution and by the election laws. Concerning the issue as to who may stand for election as a Seimas member, it is provided for by Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution which stipulates that any citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state, and who, on the election day, is 25 years of age or over and has permanently been residing in Lithuania, may stand for election as a Seimas member. This constitutional provision is repeated by Paragraph 2 of Article 2 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas.

Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas indicates that persons who have taken an oath of a citizen of another state must repudiate the said oath in writing and point out in their application form as to how and when they did so. An analogous provision is contained by Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils.

Assessing whether Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils are in compliance with the Constitution, it is of crucial importance to determine the content of the notion “who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state” employed by Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution.

The word bound (Lith. susijęs) means “to be interrelated, to link” (see A Dictionary of Contemporary Lithuanian, Vilnius, 1993, p. 691). Thus, according to the representative, he who has sworn or given a pledge to a foreign state should be treated as bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state, when this oath or pledge is valid and establishes a link between this person and the foreign state. A person should be treated as not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state who has not sworn nor given a pledge to a foreign state, or if he has repudiated such an oath or pledge to a foreign state.

The constitutional norms do not particularise as to what concrete oath or pledge must be given to a foreign state, nor by what means this had to be done, nor what institution of a foreign state had to ascertain the fact of such an oath or pledge to a foreign state, so that the person may be treated as bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state. It is impossible for the Constitution to regulate all this in detail. An oath or pledge to a foreign state is regulated by means of laws of foreign states but not those of Lithuania, and they can provide for special cases characteristic of that state only. Therefore, only the principal requirement of a general character is established by Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution by which only a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state may stand for election as a Seimas member. This constitutional provision is well reasoned: by means of it one attempts to create pre-conditions so that only the persons who are not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state may stand for election as Seimas members, i.e. so that Seimas members would be able to represent the nation freely and unhampered by any influence of a foreign state.

The requirement that only a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state may stand for election as a Seimas member as established by Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution is particularised by the Law on Elections to the Seimas. An analysis of the Law on Elections to the Seimas allows asserting that this law clearly points out to a case when a person is treated as bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state, i.e. when he acquired citizenship of the said foreign state upon his taking an oath of a citizen of the said state. The requirement set down in Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas to repudiate in writing the oath of a citizen given to another state comes from the provision formulated by Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution and is quite reasoned. The same should be noted regarding the provisions of Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils.

It is impossible to treat the provisions of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and those of Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils as discriminatory since the said provisions establish equal conditions to all citizens of Lithuania under which they may stand for election as Seimas or municipal council members, i.e. the citizens may not be bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state. In this case the constitutional principle of the equality of all persons before law is not violated.

The representative contends that Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils are in compliance with the Constitution.

In the court hearing the representative of the party concerned reiterated the arguments which had been presented in writing.

IV

In the course of preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court hearing, a written explanation by Assoc. Prof. Dr. T. Birmontienė, Head of the Constitutional Law Department of the Law Academy, was received wherein one’s attention is drawn to certain imperfections of the election laws, and doubts are expressed regarding the conformity of the impugned norms with the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

1. On the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution.

Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas provides: “A citizen who has nominated himself or has been nominated for a candidate to Seimas members, must himself enter the following data into the application form of a candidate for Seimas members: his surname, name, passport number, personal number, date of birth, address of permanent place of residence, whether he has been imposed a sentence by court which has not been served, whether he is not a person serving in active military or alternative service, whether he is not an officer, non-commissioned officer or a non-retired from service re-enlistee of the defence system, or that of the police or that of the interior service, or a paid officer of another militarised or security service who has not retired, and whether he has citizenship of another state, and after this he must put his signature. Persons who have taken an oath of a citizen of another state must repudiate it in writing and indicate in the application form as to how and when they did so. The application form of a candidate for Seimas members may also contain additional questions established by the Central Electoral Committee to which the person is entitled not to answer.”

Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils provides: “A citizen who has been nominated for a candidate to municipal council members, must himself enter the following data into the application form of a candidate for municipal council members: his name, surname, passport number, personal number, date of birth, address of permanent place of residence, whether he has been imposed a sentence by court which has not been served, whether he is not a person serving in active military or alternative service, whether he is not an officer, non-commissioned officer or a non-retired from service re-enlistee of the defence system, or that of the police or that of the interior service, or a paid officer of another militarised or security service who has not retired, and whether he has citizenship of another state, and after this he must put his signature. Persons who have taken an oath of a citizen of another state must repudiate it in writing and indicate in the application form as to how and when they did so. The application form of a candidate for municipal council members may also contain additional questions established by the Central Electoral Committee to which the person is entitled not to answer.”

The petitioner contends that the “established requirement [by the said election laws] to repudiate an oath of a citizen of another state allows assuming that a person who is a candidate for either Seimas or municipal council members and who, in the course of the procedure of the acquisition of another state’s citizenship, took an oath of a citizen of the said state, is forced to repudiate this citizenship.” Meanwhile, “the Constitution does not require that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who has foreign citizenship in particular cases as provided for by law repudiate the said citizenship so that he may stand for election as a Seimas or municipal council member.”

1.1. Citizenship is a permanent political and legal link with a concrete state, which is based on mutual rights and obligations, and, as the result of the latter, on mutual confidence, protection and individual’s loyalty to the respective state. The political nature of citizenship is determined by a permanent link of an individual with a special political institution, i.e. a certain state, and recognition that he enjoys certain political rights and freedoms, which grant him an opportunity to participate in the socio-political life of that country, including the right to participate him in the government of that country. Thus, citizenship is an important institution of domestic law the content of which is established and peculiarities regulated by the normative legal acts of a respective state.

Alongside, the legal doctrine also emphasises general tendencies of regulation of some relations of citizenship: the universal recognition of the acquisition of citizenship in cases when an individual is born in a family of citizens; the establishment of special conditions for the acquisition of citizenship by naturalisation; the limitation on dual citizenship in greater or smaller extent. In addition, it is underlined that all issues connected with citizenship, especially those of the acquisition and loss of citizenship, are regulated by means of laws of every particular state. The influence of international law on the institution of citizenship becomes evident only when bilateral international agreements are concluded concerning citizenship issues or corresponding international conventions are joined. Most often by bilateral international agreements one attempts to solve the problems which arise due to dual citizenship.

1.2. Article 12 of the Constitution establishes only the most general rules for the acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania. For instance, it is emphasised in Paragraph 1 of the said article that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania shall be acquired by birth or on other bases established by law. Paragraph 1 of Article 1 of the Law on Citizenship provides:

The following persons shall be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania:

(1) persons who were citizens of the Republic of Lithuania prior to 15 June 1940, and their children and grandchildren (provided they have not repatriated from Lithuania);

(2) persons who were permanent residents on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania in the period from 9 January 1919 to 15 June 1940, as well as their children and grandchildren, provided on the day of entry into force of this Law they have been permanent residents in Lithuania, and are not citizens of another state;

(3) persons of Lithuanian dissent residing in other states provided they left Lithuania prior to 16 February 1918 and have not acquired citizenship of another state;

(4) persons who acquired citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania prior to 4 November 1991 under the Law on Citizenship which had been in force before the 5 December 1991 enactment of the Law on Citizenship;

(5) other persons who have acquired citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania under the Law on Citizenship.”

Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution provides that “with the exception of cases established by law, no person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time.” Taking account of this, Article 16 of the Law on Citizenship provides that the President of the Republic of Lithuania, conforming to the Law on Citizenship, may, by way of exception, grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to citizens of foreign states who have been of merit to the Republic of Lithuania without applying to them the conditions of granting citizenship. The following conclusion should be drawn from the foregoing: the Constitution grants the right to the legislature to regulate the questions of dual citizenship regarding the establishment of special cases for its granting (when this is demanded by State interests, however, with no contradiction to the provision of exception) as well as imposing limitations on it.

The impugned norms of the aforesaid election laws also mention citizenship of a foreign state: a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is a candidate for Seimas or municipal council members must answer the question which is in the application form whether he is a citizen of another state; while persons of dual citizenship, in case they have taken an oath of a citizen of another state, must repudiate it in writing and indicate in the application form as to how and when they did so. According to the petitioner, the requirement to repudiate the oath of a citizen is equal to that of the repudiation of foreign citizenship.

Analysing the impugned provisions within the context of Article 12 of the Constitution, first of all, it must be emphasised that the procedures of the repudiation or deprivation of a foreign citizenship may be established only by the state which by its legal norms has created a corresponding citizenship institution. Secondly, an oath of a citizen is taken when citizenship is granted by way of naturalisation, however, in this case, too, the oath is merely one of the conditions of the acquisition of citizenship, therefore, subsequent denial of one of these conditions not necessarily will mean the repudiation of citizenship. As mentioned, states, as a rule, establish special procedures for the repudiation of citizenship. Thirdly, it is directly stipulated by the impugned provisions of the Lithuanian election laws that a person who is of dual citizenship and who has taken an oath of a citizen of another state, and who wishes to be a candidate for Seimas or municipal council members, would merely repudiate in writing the oath of a citizen of another state which he has taken. Such a requirement is raised in an attempt to ensure that a respective person would meet the constitutional condition not to be bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state.

On the grounds of the arguments set forth above, the conclusion should be drawn that the impugned provisions of the aforesaid election laws are in compliance with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution.

2. On the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils with Article 29 and Paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution.

The petitioner points out that the requirement set down by the election laws for the persons who have taken an oath of a citizen of another state to repudiate it in writing is of discriminatory nature, i.e. that it contradicts Article 29 and Paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution.

2.1. The principle of the equality of persons which is established by Article 29 of the Constitution means, in essence, the prohibition of discrimination. Discrimination is most often understood as restriction of the rights of an individual or granting certain privileges according to his or her sex, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, religion, convictions, or opinions. However, differentiated legal regulation when it is applied to certain groups of persons which are distinguished by the same signs, and in case one strives for positive and socially meaningful goals, is not regarded as discrimination. Special requirements or certain conditions when their establishment is linked with certain peculiarities of the regulated relations are not categorised as discriminatory limitations, either. For example, laws provide for certain requirements of education, qualifications, health or work experience as regards citizens who enter the civil service. Taking account of the peculiarities of performance and responsibility in state institutions, such requirements are considered natural and indispensable and they are applied in all states, therefore, in such cases there never arise questions as for a violation of or limitation on the right of citizens to participate in the government of their country. The same must be said concerning the right of citizens to participate in the government of their State which is established by Paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution. This right is directly linked with the norms of Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution which establish special requirements for a person who wants to stand for election as a Seimas member, i.e. he must be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania, he must not be bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state, and he, on the election day, must be 25 years of age or over and must permanently reside in Lithuania. In the doctrine of constitutional law, similar requirements are categorised as belonging to the realisation conditions of the passive electoral right and they are broadly applied.

2.2. An oath is a solemn and firm pledge of an individual to bind himself with corresponding duties and perform them, or it is a pledge to tell the truth, which is also done by one addressing God. There are not any essential differences between an oath and a pledge, and these notions are treated as having almost the same meaning. It goes without saying, certain differences may be discerned if one paid his attention to technical matters. For instance, an oath is defined as a solemn and firm pledge. There are various types of oaths: ecclesiastic, state, official, professional, judicial etc. In the context of the case at issue, one has in mind an oath or a pledge to a foreign state.

It is noteworthy that Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution which mentions an oath or a pledge to a foreign state discloses neither the content nor the limits of this notion. There is no doubt, however, that the constitutional wording underlines one very important aspect, i.e. political nature of an oath or pledge, as here one deals with certain commitments to a foreign state.

In the institution of citizenship an oath is most often used when citizenship is granted by way of naturalisation: a person applying for citizenship pledges solemnly to observe the constitution and laws of the respective state, to protect that state in case of need and perform other civil duties, to respect the customs and culture of that state etc. Thus, doubtless to say, an oath of a citizen is a political obligation of a particular person to the state which grants its citizenship to the person in the first place. Alongside, it should be noted that an oath is only one part of the procedure of the acquisition of citizenship by way of naturalisation, therefore, it is significant not so much in itself but in the whole context of the procedures for acquisition or loss of citizenship. One should also underline that the conditions and procedure for repudiation or deprivation of citizenship of another state may be established only by the state which creates the institution of its citizenship but never by a foreign state. Therefore, the requirements of a state for its citizens concerning citizenship of another state which they enjoy may not give way to any effects directly meaning annulment or deprivation of citizenship of another state. It goes without saying, this does not mean that a state may not impose limitations on, or even prohibit, dual citizenship.

2.3. In the case at issue, the impugned provisions of the aforesaid election laws are referred to a rather clearly defined group of persons, i.e. citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who have citizenship of another state and who, on acquiring it, took an oath of a citizen of another state. Such distinction of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania is based on the norms of Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution. It should be noted that the impugned provisions of the election laws are worded not as categorical prohibitions but a requirement for a certain positive action helping to meet the constitutional condition. Thus, in this case the implementation of the condition as established by the Constitution depends upon determination and will of a particular citizen, and this may not be treated as discrimination.

In view of the reasoning set forth above, as well as the fact that the requirements set down in Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution should be categorised as special requirements applied to the realisation of the passive electoral right, there are no grounds to conclude that the impugned provisions of the election laws particularising the said requirements contradict Article 29 and Paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution.

3. On the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas with Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution and on the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils with Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Constitution.

3.1. The impugned provision of Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas reads as follows: “Persons who have taken an oath of a citizen of another state must repudiate it in writing and indicate in the application form as to how and when they did so.” The quoted provision particularises the following norm of Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution: “Any citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state <...> may stand for election as a Seimas member.”

The requirement of Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution stipulating that candidates for Seimas members may not be bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state is, first of all, accounted for that Paragraph 2 of Article 59 of the Constitution provides that “newly-elected Seimas members shall acquire all the rights of a representative of the Nation only after swearing in the Seimas to be loyal to the Republic of Lithuania.” Paragraph 3 of the same article contains another important provision which reads: “Seimas members who either do not take an oath in the manner prescribed by law, or who take a conditional oath, shall lose the mandate of a Seimas member.” Thus, the Constitution unreservedly requires that a Seimas member take an oath to be loyal to the State of Lithuania only and that he pledge to respect and observe the Constitution and laws. This is understandable as in state institutions only the persons who are loyal to that state and regarding their loyalty or credibility no doubts arise may work in its institutions. It is evident that in cases when a person who is bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state takes an oath of a Seimas member, doubts might arise as to the certainty and credibility of his oath, while the legal and political situation of such a person would become ambiguous.

As mentioned, the constitutional norms do not disclose the content or possible limits of the notion “who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state.” The Lithuanian legislature has not defined this constitutional notion clearly and precisely enough in the election laws, thus, he has created pre-conditions for its different interpretation and application. For example, the courts and the Central Electoral Committee would demand to repudiate an oath of a citizen of another state and to point it out in their application form. It was such apprehension which permitted persons who had citizenship of Lithuania and other states at the same time to be candidates for Seimas members during elections after they had repudiated in writing their oath of a citizen of another state. It should be noted that the mandates of the persons who were elected Seimas members under the then in force election laws are legitimate.

The norms of Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution establishes certain conditions to persons claiming to become members of the representation of the Nation. The Constitutional Court notes that the said norms are of double meaning: firstly, they are linked with the accomplishment of very important political rights of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania; secondly, they condition certain regulation of principal questions concerning formation and composition of the supreme state institution, i.e. the Seimas. Therefore, in the future (for instance, during the next election to the Seimas) these norms must be interpreted and administered very accurately.

In the context of the case at issue, it is necessary to construe the content of the constitutional notion “who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state”. First of all it must be emphasised that this notion is of abstract nature, i.e. it should be understood as any oath or pledge to a foreign state. Second, construing this notion, one has to remember the main objectives due to which this notion (together with the other conditions) was set down in the Constitution. These are essentially political objectives: to ensure a proper formation of the supreme political state institution which embodies the idea of the representation of the legal nation in the State. It is evident that the nation is represented only by citizens of that state who are aware and capable of expressing the expectations and interests of their fellow citizens, and who comprehend and are capable of forming the political will of their state. Thus, any commitments of political nature to a foreign state, whether they arise out of a formally taken oath or pledge or whether they occur as a political duty or a political loyalty requirement linked with the fact of possession of citizenship of another state are to be treated as a pledge to a foreign state. The Constitutional Court emphasises that the best way to meet the constitutional condition, i.e. to be a person “who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state,” is the repudiation of citizenship of a foreign state. It goes without saying, the legislature, implementing such content of the aforesaid constitutional norm, may also establish additional requirements for implementation of this constitutional norm. In any case, however, the norms of the law must be formulated precisely enough so that it would be possible to prevent different interpretation of the constitutional norms.

Thus, there are no grounds for asserting that the impugned provision of the Law on Election to the Seimas by its content contradicts Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution.

3.2. As mentioned, Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils provides that a citizen who is a candidate for municipal council members, must himself enter the following data into the application form: his name, surname, passport number, personal number, date of birth, address of permanent place of residence, whether he has been imposed a sentence by court which has not been served, whether he is not a person serving in active military or alternative service, whether he is not an officer, non-commissioned officer or a non-retired from service re-enlistee of the defence system, or that of the police or that of the interior service, or a paid officer of another militarised or security service who has not retired, and whether he has citizenship of another state, and after this he must put his signature. Persons who have taken an oath of a citizen of another state must repudiate it in writing and indicate in the application form as to how and when they did so. The application form of a candidate for municipal council members may also contain additional questions established by the Central Electoral Committee to which the person is entitled not to answer.

Paragraph 3 of Article 119 of the Constitution provides: “The procedure for the organisation and activities of self-government institutions shall be established by law.” Thus, the constitutional norms do not establish any requirements regarding the candidates for municipal council members. Therefore, regulating these questions, the legislature is not bound by any particular constitutional norms. It is also to be noted that the aforesaid regulation does not restrict suffrage: it merely establishes certain conditions to the claimants to municipal council members. By the way, European Union directives urge that the other member states should not hinder the citizens of other member states of the European Union and who reside in other states from participating in local government elections. Thus, the practice of local elections is varied, however, they are ultimately regulated by domestic laws. Having established the same requirements to candidates for municipal council members who at the same time enjoy citizenship of another state as those to candidates for Seimas members, the legislature did not violate the Constitution.

Alongside, attention should be paid to the fact that Article 2 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils wherein the electoral principles have been set down and the main requirements to the candidates have been pointed out does not contain any requirement that a candidate should not be bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state. This should be treated as a certain legal gap. However, this does not constitute the grounds to conclude that Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils contradicts Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Constitution.

Conforming to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 53, 54, 55 and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

1. To recognise that Paragraph 4 of Article 38 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Elections to the Seimas is in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. To recognise that Paragraph 4 of Article 36 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Elections to Municipal Councils is in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

The ruling is pronounced in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:

Egidijus Jarašiūnas     Kęstutis Lapinskas      Zigmas Levickis

Augustinas Normantas      Vladas Pavilonis      Jonas Prapiestis

Pranas Vytautas Rasimavičius      Teodora Staugaitienė     Juozas Žilys