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Content updated: 21-05-2019 12:57

The provision of the Seimas resolution whereby voting in a mandatory referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution is to take place on two days with a break of two weeks and certain provisions of the Law on Referendums ruled unconstitutional

15-02-2019

By its ruling passed today, the Constitutional Court has recognised that Article 2 of Resolution No XIII-1537 of the Seimas of 18 October 2018 on calling a mandatory referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter also referred to as Resolution No XIII-1537), insofar as this article contains the provision “To establish that the mandatory referendum shall take place on 12 and 26 May 2019”, is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 9 and Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court has also found that the provision “In its resolution, the Seimas may establish that the referendum shall take place on more than one day” of Paragraph 1 of Article 52 of the Law on Referendums in its wording currently in force is in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. Other provisions of the Law on Referendums creating the preconditions for holding a referendum on more than one day have also been declared in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law: specifically, the provisions of Paragraph 8 of Article 18, stating that “Where a referendum takes place on more than one day (on two or more days) and a break between the days of the referendum is longer than one day, the period of the prohibition of campaigning shall end on the first day of the referendum as soon as the voting closes. The period of the prohibition of campaigning shall begin before the next day of the referendum in accordance with the procedure established in this Paragraph”; the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 45 providing that “(not later than until 6 p.m. on the last day of voting in the referendum where the referendum takes place on more than one day)”; Paragraph 2 of Article 53; the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 81 prescribing that “Where a referendum is held on more than one day, the last day of voting in the referendum shall be deemed to be the day of the adoption by referendum of a law or another act or decision”; as well as Article 82.

The provisions of the Constitution and the official constitutional doctrine

The Constitutional Court has held that the Nation directly exercises its supreme sovereign power through two main organisational forms: national elections and referendums. The principles and main conditions for organising national elections and referendums are consolidated in constitutional norms, and the procedures for conducting national elections and referendums are regulated by the relevant laws.

The legal grounds for both of the above-mentioned forms of democracy derive from Article 2 of the Constitution, which stipulates that sovereignty belongs to the Nation, and Article 4 of the Constitution, according to which the Nation executes its supreme sovereign power either directly or through its democratically elected representatives, as well as from the electoral rights of citizens, the fundamentals of which are consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution (the right of citizens to participate in the governance of their state both directly and through their democratically elected representatives) and Article 34 of the Constitution (the constitutional grounds for the active and passive electoral rights).

Since both forms of the execution of the supreme sovereign power of the Nation and direct democracy – national elections and referendums – are based on the same constitutional grounds (the sovereignty of the Nation, democracy, and the electoral rights), no interpretation of the Constitution may lead to confrontation between them. Referendums, as well as elections, constitute a form of the direct execution of the supreme sovereign power of the Nation, as citizens declare their will through national voting; the right to initiate a referendum and to vote in a referendum is granted only to citizens who have the electoral right; referendums are held according to the principles of electoral law.

The main provisions regulating the institution of a referendum are consolidated in Article 9 of the Constitution:

“The most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation shall be decided by referendum.

In cases established by law, the Seimas shall call a referendum.

A referendum shall also be called if not less than 300 000 citizens with the electoral right so request.

The procedure for calling and conducting referendums shall be established by law.”

Interpreting the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has revealed which matters should be regarded as the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation, in particular: 1) those issues concerning amending the provisions of the Constitution that, under the Constitution, may be decided only by referendum; 2) the issues provided for in a law that are other than those established in the Constitution and must be decided by referendum; 3) the issues that would be requested to be decided by referendum by not less than 300 000 citizens with the electoral right, although neither the Constitution nor a law would prescribe that these issues must be decided by referendum; 4) the issues that would be put to a referendum by the Seimas as the representation of the Nation, although neither the Constitution nor a law would prescribe that these issues must be decided by referendum.

Thus, the Constitution does not consolidate any exhaustive list of the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation, which must be decided by referendum as provided for under Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, irrespective of whether they are specified in the Constitution or a law as issues that must be decided by referendum, or whether, although they are not specified in the Constitution or a law, they are put to a referendum by 300 000 citizens with the electoral right or by the Seimas as the representation of the Nation, all the above-mentioned issues should be regarded as the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation. Therefore, the Constitution, among others, Paragraph 1 of Article 9, gives rise to the requirement that the same procedure for calling and conducting referendums be applied in deciding all the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation, with the exception of the special requirements provided for in the Constitution with regard to adopting decisions on certain of the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation.

The text of Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution contains no direct requirements as to how the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation are decided by referendum. However, referendums, as well as elections, constitute a form of the direct execution of the supreme sovereign power of the Nation. Since national elections and referendums are based on the same constitutional grounds, among others, on the sovereignty of the Nation, democracy, and the electoral rights, Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of the provisions of Articles 2 and 4, Paragraph 1 of Article 33, and Article 34 of the Constitution (which all consolidate these constitutional grounds), gives rise to the imperative that the constitutionally consolidated democratic principles (universal, equal, and direct suffrage, secret ballot, free and fair elections, a transparent and public electoral process) governing elections to political representative institutions be mutatis mutandis (with respective amendments) applied in calling and conducting referendums. These principles also stem from the imperatives implied by the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court emphasised that, arising from the Constitution, the above-mentioned imperative that the constitutionally consolidated democratic principles governing elections to political representative institutions be applied in calling and conducting referendums is not an objective in itself. As held by the Constitutional Court, Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, interpreted in conjunction with the provision of Article 2 of the Constitution that sovereignty belongs to the Nation and with the provision of Article 4 of the Constitution that the Nation executes its supreme sovereign power directly, gives rise to the imperative to create the preconditions for determining the actual will of the Nation in a referendum. Thus, compliance with the above-mentioned constitutionally consolidated democratic principles governing elections to political representative institutions is essential in order to create the preconditions for determining the actual will of the Nation in a referendum.

Consequently, under Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, in exercising its powers, established in Paragraph 4 of this article, to regulate the procedure for calling and conducting referendums, the legislature is bound by the democratic principles governing elections to political representative institutions. Otherwise, if the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution were interpreted only literally by applying the sole linguistic method of the interpretation of law, such an interpretation would deny the above-mentioned constitutional imperative to create the preconditions for determining the actual will of the Nation in a referendum.

Thus, under Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, conducting a referendum is subject to, among others, the principle of free and fair elections. This means that it is obligatory to ensure a fair referendum process, including the free expression of will by citizens, in particular, it is obligatory to create the preconditions enabling citizens, freely and without being subjected to control, to form their opinion and express their will on the issue put to a referendum, as well as to create the equal opportunities to campaign for both proponents and opponents of the decision put to a referendum. The imperative of a fair referendum process also implies the following requirements: that the institution organising referendums (Central Electoral Commission) must be impartial; the institution calling referendums (Seimas) may not influence the referendum results while exercising its powers; the institution calling referendums, the institution organising referendums, and other state institutions may not abuse the powers conferred on them. The Constitution, among others, Paragraph 1 of Article 9, and the constitutional imperative of a fair referendum process also give rise to the requirement that, while remaining as neutral as possible, state institutions may not, selectively by their decisions, encourage or, on the contrary, hinder decision making in a referendum on certain of the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation once such issues are put to the referendum.

Under Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, conducting a referendum is also subject to the principle of a transparent and public referendum process. This principle implies the requirement that the institution calling referendums and the institution organising referendums must take reasonable, clear, and public decisions in relation to calling and conducting referendums. Moreover, the procedure established by means of a law for calling and conducting referendums must be clear and precise.

The Constitution, among others, the text of Article 9, does not directly specify how many days may be scheduled for a referendum once it is called. However, the Constitution as legal reality is comprised of various provisions – constitutional norms and constitutional principles, which are either directly consolidated in various stipulations of the Constitution or are derived from them. Thus, the constitutional legal regulation is consolidated explicitly and it may also be established implicitly.

As mentioned before, Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of Articles 2 and 4, Paragraph 1 of Article 33, and Article 34 of the Constitution, gives rise to the imperative that the constitutionally consolidated democratic principles governing elections to political representative institutions (and stemming, among others, from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law) be applied in calling and conducting referendums. There are no constitutional grounds for applying other principles in regulating, by means of a law, as to how many days may be scheduled for a referendum once it is called.

The Constitutional Court held that Article 57, Paragraph 4 of Article 58, Article 80, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 81, Paragraph 1 of Article 87, and Paragraph 1 of Article 89 of the Constitution establish the requirement that elections to the Seimas and the elections of the President of the Republic must last one day (the provision is made that regular election are held on the specific date), which must be a Sunday. Under the Constitution, such a requirement is not an objective in itself. The provision of Article 1 of the Constitution, proclaiming that the State of Lithuania is an independent democratic republic, among other things, means that free and periodic elections and the democratic process of decision making must be ensured in the state. This provision embodies the constitutional obligation not to deviate from the requirements of democracy; the said obligation is applicable to all state institutions, including the legislature.

In view of this, the Constitutional Court noted that the above-mentioned constitutional requirement that elections to the Seimas and the elections of the President of the Republic must last one day (the Constitution makes the precise provision for the specific date for regular elections or a procedure for determining the day of runoffs or early elections) is aimed at ensuring the implementation of the necessary condition of democracy – free and periodic elections and the democratic process of decision making during elections. Establishing, in the Constitution, the precise day for regular elections and limiting, under the Constitution, the discretion to choose the day and duration of runoffs or early elections precludes the state authority institutions vested with the powers to call elections from abusing these powers, among others, from influencing the election results while exercising the said powers. At the same time, this constitutes one of the preconditions for ensuring the fairness and transparency of the electoral process and revealing the actual will of voters in elections.

Since there are no constitutional grounds for applying other principles in regulating, by means of a law, as to how many days may be scheduled for a referendum once it is called, the Constitutional Court drew the conclusion that, arising from Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of Articles 2 and 4, Paragraph 1 of Article 33, and Article 34 of the Constitution, the imperative that the constitutionally consolidated democratic principles governing elections to political representative institutions (and stemming, among others, from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law) be applied in calling and conducting referendums also implies the requirement that, once a referendum is called, it must be provided that it is to take place on one day. Such a requirement is aimed at ensuring, in a referendum, the democratic process of decision making, which is implied by the provision of Article 1 of the Constitution, proclaiming that the State of Lithuania is an independent democratic republic. In addition, the said requirement creates the preconditions for ensuring the fairness and transparency of the referendum process, in particular, guaranteeing that the same procedure for calling and conducting referendums is applied in deciding all the most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation; at the same time, the preconditions are created for ensuring the imperative, stemming from Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, to determine the actual will of the Nation in a referendum. Specifically, the constitutional requirement that, once a referendum is called, it must be provided that it is to take place on one day precludes the institution calling referendums (Seimas) from deciding, in the absence of any objective criteria, that some referendums are to take place on one day, while others are to take place on more than one day (either with or without breaks in between), i.e. this requirement precludes the institution calling referendums from encouraging certain referendums to a greater extent than other referendums and from exerting greater or lesser influence on the results of particular referendums by means of the said decisions.

Thus, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law give rise to the requirement for the legislature, in regulating the procedure for calling and conducting referendums, to prescribe that, once a referendum is called, it is permitted to provide that the referendum is to take place on only one day.

The Constitutional Court emphasised that the said requirement may not be interpreted as preventing the legislature from establishing a procedure for early voting in referendums for those citizens who are unable to cast their votes on the day of a referendum. Providing for a procedure for early voting in referendums is a constitutional duty of the legislature; it stems from the Constitution, among others, from Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 9.

In its ruling, the Constitutional Court overviewed the European standards for referendums, among them, those set out in the documents of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights where the analogous principles of free elections are interpreted. In the ruling, the Constitutional Court also referred to the case law of the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland where the legal regulation laid down in the Electoral Code was found inconsistent with the Constitution insofar as, under that legal regulation, the authority ordering elections could decide on one-day or two-day voting in elections. The Constitutional Tribunal held that the unlimited freedom granted in this respect to the authority ordering elections was incompatible with the requirements of legal security, since determining whether voting would be held on a single day or over two days was conditional on a decision of the authority ordering elections, and the said decision was not determined by any objective premises and this meant that it could be taken arbitrarily.

The assessment of the constitutionality of the resolution of the Seimas on calling a mandatory referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution and the ensuing consequences of this assessment

By Article 1 of Resolution No XIII-1537 of 18 October 2018, the Seimas called a mandatory referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution. This resolution was passed pursuant to, among others, Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution, under which the Seimas adopts resolutions on referendums.

The impugned Article 2 of Resolution No XIII-1537 of the Seimas of 18 October 2018 established the date for holding the mandatory referendum – 12 May 2019 and 26 May 2019, i.e. it provided that the referendum was to take place on two days with a break of two weeks between them.

As mentioned before, the Constitutional Court drew the conclusion that, arising from Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, the imperative that the constitutionally consolidated democratic principles governing elections to political representative institutions (and stemming, among others, from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law) be mutatis mutandis (with respective amendments) applied in calling and conducting referendums also implies the requirement that, once a referendum is called, it must be provided that it is to take place on one day. Consequently, Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution also implies that, having regard to the Constitution, among others, Paragraph 1 of Article 9, and the requirements stemming from the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, the Seimas is under the duty to provide, in its resolution on calling a referendum, for the date of the referendum, i.e. to provide that the referendum is to take place on one day.

Taking account of this, the Constitutional Court held that Article 2 of Resolution No XIII-1537, under which, as mentioned before, the referendum was to take place on two days with a break of two weeks between them, was in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 9 and Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. Having held this, the Constitutional Court did not investigate whether Article 2 of Resolution No XIII-1537 was in conflict with Article 29 of the Constitution.

In this context, the Constitutional Court drew attention to the fact that any legal act (part thereof) of the Seimas that is declared by a ruling of the Constitutional Court to be in conflict with the Constitution must be removed from the legal system of Lithuania and may no longer be applied. Therefore, after Article 2 of Resolution No XIII-1537 was recognised by the Constitutional Court to be in conflict with the Constitution, this article may no longer be applied, and the mandatory referendum, called under Article 1 of Resolution No XIII-1537, on amending Article 12 of the Constitution may not be held unless the Seimas, having regard to the requirements, laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 16 of the Law on Referendums, in relation to choosing the date of a referendum, provides in the said resolution for such a date of the referendum that is in line with the above-mentioned requirement to provide that the referendum is to take place on one day.

The Constitutional Court also noted that the legal regulation governing the relations connected with referendums, as laid down in the Law on Referendums, in particular, in Paragraph 1 of Article 56, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 57, and Paragraphs 1–6 of Article 63, creates the preconditions for the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to cast their votes in a mandatory referendum not only on the day scheduled for the referendum by the respective resolution of the Seimas, but also in advance, i.e. prior to the day scheduled for the referendum by the resolution of the Seimas.

The assessment of the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Law on Referendums

The implementation of constitutional justice implies that a legal act (part thereof) that is in conflict with the Constitution must be removed from the legal system; therefore, having found the unconstitutionality of a law whose compliance with the Constitution is not impugned by the petitioner, but on which the impugned substatutory legal act is based, the Constitutional Court must state that such a law is unconstitutional; this duty of the Constitutional Court stems from the Constitution and, in this way, the supremacy of the Constitution is ensured.

The Constitutional Court noted that Paragraph 1 of Article 52 of the Law on Referendums in its wording currently in force, among other things, prescribes the following: “In its resolution, the Seimas may establish that the referendum shall take place on more than one day”. However, this legal regulation does not specify any total number of days on which a referendum may take place; therefore, when establishing the date of a referendum by its resolution, the Seimas also may, under Paragraph 1 of Article 52 of this law, provide that a mandatory referendum is to take place on one day or more than one day, i.e. to provide for any number of days on which a referendum may take place, or that a referendum is to take place on more than one consecutive day, or that it is to take place on more than one day with a break (breaks) in between (such an interpretation is confirmed by the provisions of Paragraph 8 of Article 18 of the Law on Referendums). The legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 52 of the Law on Referendums (wording of 20 December 2018) is identical to the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 (wording of 25 February 2003) of Article 50 of the Law on Referendums, which is no longer in force as of 1 January 2019 and, based on which, Resolution No XIII-1537 of the Seimas of 18 October 2018 had been adopted, by providing in its Article 2 that the referendum was to take place on two days with a break of two weeks between them.

As mentioned before, in terms of the compliance of Article 2 of Resolution No XIII-1537 of the Seimas of 18 October 2018 with the Constitution, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law give rise to the requirement for the legislature, in regulating the procedure for calling and conducting referendums, among other things, to prescribe that, once a referendum is called, it is permitted to provide that the referendum is to take place on only one day. Taking account of this, the Constitutional Court held that the provision “In its resolution, the Seimas may establish that the referendum shall take place on more than one day” of Paragraph 1 of Article 52 of the Law on Referendums in its wording currently in force is in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. Based on the same arguments, those other above-mentioned provisions of the Law on Referendums in its wording currently in force that create the preconditions for holding a referendum on more than one day were also declared in conflict with the Constitution.

The ruling of the Constitutional Court makes it clear that such a legal regulation as laid down in the Law on Referendums, under which a referendum may take place over an unlimited number of days (either consecutively or with an unlimited number of breaks), is unique. It is only in some European states that referendums may be held on more than one day (e.g., the Czech Republic and Finland); however, referendums in these states are held over only two consecutive days and, as a rule, only in cases where these referendums take place concurrently with elections held on the same two consecutive days.

The effects of declaring the provisions of the Law on Referendums in conflict with the Constitution and the legal regulation modified by this law

In the ruling, the Constitutional Court held that the provision “In its resolution, the Seimas may establish that the referendum shall take place on more than one day” of Paragraph 1 of Article 52 of the Law on Referendums (wording of 20 December 2018) was in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. It was also held in the ruling that the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 52 of the Law on Referendums in its wording currently in force is, from the aspect relevant to this constitutional justice case, identical to the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 (wording of 25 February 2003) of Article 50 of the Law on Referendums, which became no longer valid on 31 December 2018 and provided the grounds for Article 2 of Resolution No XIII-1537 of the Seimas of 18 October 2018, which has been found in conflict with the Constitution (to the extent that Article 2 of this resolution provided that the referendum was to take place on two days with a break of two weeks between them).

The consequences arising from this ruling of the Constitutional Court are related only to the impugned Resolution No XIII-1537 of the Seimas of 18 October 2018 on calling a mandatory referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court emphasised that those legal relations that had arisen on the basis of other resolutions of the Seimas adopted on calling a referendum pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 50 of the Law on Referendums, which is currently no longer in force, had expired. Expressing its view regarding the possibility of assessing the constitutionality of those legal acts that may no longer be applied in general, since they had been designated to regulate relations that had already expired and, thus, no longer exist, the Constitutional Court stressed that, any intervention by law-making subjects in such a legal regulation is no longer feasible, it would be meaningless and irrational, as it would mean that the respective law-making subjects undertake steps to regulate – consequently, make efforts to change – the past. Any intervention by the Constitutional Court in the particular legal regulation of relations connected with referendums would be equally meaningless where such a legal regulation is no longer in force, may no longer be applied, or the legal relations that are connected with referendums and had arisen on the basis of such a legal regulation have expired.

In view of this, the Constitutional Court held that, with the exception of the impugned Resolution No XIII-1537, there are no constitutional grounds for doubting regarding the constitutionality of other resolutions of the Seimas on calling a referendum that had been adopted pursuant to Paragraph 1 (wording of 25 February 2003) of Article 50 of the Law on Referendums, which is currently no longer in force, or regarding the results of the referendums held on the basis of such resolutions, or regarding the legal effects caused by these results.

The Constitutional Court noted that the Seimas had adopted Resolution No XIII-1537, whereby the mandatory referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution had been called, on 18 October 2018, when the Law on Referendums in its previous wording had been still in force; under its Article 4, this resolution entered into force on 1 January 2019. On 20 December 2018, the Seimas passed the Law Amending the Law (No IX-929) on Referendums; by Article 1 of the said law, the Law on Referendums was amended and set out in its new wording and came into force on 1 January 2019. Thus, although the referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution was called pursuant to the Law on Referendums in its previous wording, the referendum must be conducted pursuant to the legal regulation as laid down in the Law on Referendums in its new wording, i.e. in the wording of 20 December 2018.

In this respect, the Constitutional Court noted that, as it has held, under Paragraph 1 of Article 70 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, the legislature is, in certain cases, obliged to provide for a sufficient vacatio legis, i.e. a period of time from the moment of the official publication of the particular law until its entry into force (date of its application), during which the persons concerned would be able to prepare for the implementation of the requirements resulting from that law. The Constitutional Court also emphasised that, according to the European standards for referendums (documents of the Venice Commission), one of the necessary conditions for the proper implementation of the principles of referendums and Europe’s electoral heritage is the stability of legal acts regulating referendums; this stability, among other things, implies that the main aspects of the legal regulation governing referendums may not be modified less than a year before the referendum; since, as a rule, the date of a referendum is not known a year or more before the referendum, the requirement that no essential amendments to the legal regulation governing referendums be made a year before the referendum is, specifically, aimed not at prohibiting the adoption of amendments to the legal regulation a year before voting in a referendum, but at prohibiting the application of such amendments to the referendum process that is already in progress.

Considering this, the Constitutional Court noted that, from the point of view of ensuring the stability of the legal regulation governing the relations connected with the organisation of referendums, such a situation should be regarded as flawed in which the said legal regulation is significantly amended less than a year before a referendum, the more so in cases where this legal regulation is modified after a referendum has already been called and enters into force less than half a year before a referendum, but must be applied in the course of conducting a referendum that has already been called.

The Constitutional Court also pointed out that, in its ruling of 11 July 2014, it held that the Seimas has the obligation to adopt the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Law on Referendums; this law is indicated in Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 2 “The List of the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Laws” of the Constitutional Law on the List of the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Laws, adopted by the Seimas on 15 March 2012. Under Paragraph 2 of Article 69 of the Constitution, laws are deemed adopted if the majority of the members of the Seimas participating in the sitting vote in favour; under Paragraph 3 of the same article, the constitutional laws of the Republic of Lithuania are adopted if more than half of all the members of the Seimas vote in favour, and they are amended by not less than a 3/5 majority vote of all the members of the Seimas.

Having regard to this, the Constitutional Court emphasised that the inclusion of the law consolidating the legal regulation governing the relations connected with the organisation of referendums in the List of the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Laws, under the Constitution, means that such a law must be adopted and the legal regulation consolidated therein must be subject to amendments under a more complex procedure (compared with the procedure for adopting and amending other laws); in this way, it is sought to create the preconditions for ensuring the stability of this legal regulation. The Law on Referendums in its new wording, as approved by the Law Amending the Law (No IX-929) on Referendums, was not adopted as a constitutional law.

The Constitutional Court noted that, although, at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, the representatives of the Seimas, the petitioner, had expressed their doubts regarding the constitutionality of the Law on Referendums (wording of 20 December 2018) in terms of the procedure of its adoption, the procedure of adopting the Law on Referendums in its new wording, from the indicated aspect, had not been a matter of investigation in this constitutional justice case.

The full text of this ruling of the Constitutional Court can be found on the website of the Constitutional Court at http://www.lrkt.lt/lt/teismo-aktai/paieska/135/ta1912/content.