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On distributing state budget appropriations to political parties

 

Case no 10/2017

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING
ON THE COMPLIANCE OF ARTICLE 21 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES WITH
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

7 June 2019, no KT17-N8/2019
Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė, Gintaras Goda, Vytautas Greičius, Danutė Jočienė, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Daiva Petrylaitė, Janina Stripeikienė, and Dainius Žalimas

The court reporter – Daiva Pitrėnaitė

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1 and 531 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Court’s hearing on 28 May 2019, under written procedure considered the constitutional justice case (no 10/2017) subsequent to the petition (no 1B-11/2017) of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Article 21 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Political Parties (wording of 26 November 2013) is in conflict with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance, insofar as, according to the petitioner, the said article does not provide that, where a new election to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania takes place in the particular period of a budget year, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated proportionally for the period of the validity of the results of the election to the Seimas and the period of holding the powers of the members of the Seimas.

 

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

The arguments of the petitioner

1. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, was considering the administrative case concerning the annulment of the decision (No Sp-278) of the Central Electoral Commission of 9 November 2016 on establishing the amount of the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of the year 2016 (hereinafter referred to as the decision (No Sp-278) of 9 November 2016) and the imposition of the obligation on the Central Electoral Commission to adopt a new decision. The Central Electoral Commission, pursuant to, inter alia, Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties (wording of 26 November 2013) (hereinafter also referred to as the Law on Political Parties), adopted the above-mentioned decision, whereby it allocated the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of the year 2016, among others, according to the results of the election to the Seimas of 2012. In the administrative case in question, the court is requested to annul the above-mentioned decision and oblige the Central Electoral Commission to adopt a new decision whereby the state budget appropriations for the period indicated above would be determined not according to the results of the election to the Seimas of 2012, but the results of the election to the Seimas of 2016.

It should be noted that the results of the election to the Seimas held on 9 October 2016 were approved by the Central Electoral Commission by its decision (No Sp-270) of 30 October 2016 on determining and publishing the final results of the 9 October 2016 election of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. Pursuant to the decree (No 1K-787) of the President of the Republic of Lithuania of 2 November 2016 on convening the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the first sitting of the newly elected Seimas took place on 14 November 2016 (i.e. already after the decision (No Sp-278) of 9 November 2016 had been adopted by the Central Electoral Commission) and, precisely on this day, i.e. on 14 November 2016, the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in 2012 ceased. Therefore, by its decision (No Sp-278) of 9 November 2016, the Central Electoral Commission had allocated state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, among others, as mentioned before, according to the results of the election to the Seimas of 2012 rather than the results of the election to the Seimas of 2016.

Having faced doubts regarding the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court suspended the consideration of the administrative case and applied to the Constitutional Court.

2. The doubts of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, regarding the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution are based on the following arguments.

2.1. Under Paragraph 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, the right of political parties to state budget appropriations, among others, is linked to the results of the last election and holding the powers of the members of the Seimas. Under the impugned legal regulation, these factual circumstances must be determined on the day of adopting the decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties. The Central Electoral Commission has the right to adopt the said decision within the period starting upon the receipt of the conclusion from the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania that the number of members of a political party meets the requirements established in the law and finishing not later than on 15 November; not later than by this date, the state budget appropriations allocated for the second half of the respective year, in an amount established, must be transferred to the accounts of state budget appropriations allocated to political parties.

2.2. Thus, the beginning of the period established in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, within which the Central Electoral Commission must adopt the decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties and must transfer these appropriations, is not defined by a concrete date; however, the law provides for the final time limit, which falls not later than on 15 November. Nevertheless, according to the petitioner, the above-mentioned article does not provide that state budget appropriations are calculated in view of the fact that, in the particular period of a budget year, a new election to the Seimas takes place, the results of the previous election to the Seimas lose their validity, the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in the previous election to the Seimas cease, and the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in the new election to the Seimas take effect.

Consequently, Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties does not provide that, where a new election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations for the budget year concerned must be allocated proportionally for the period of the validity of the results of the election to the Seimas and the period of holding the powers of the members of the Seimas. These arguments of the petitioner make it clear that the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties for the half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, according to the petitioner, requires a special legal regulation, under which, from the day on which the powers of the newly elected members of the Seimas take effect, the valid results of the new election to the Seimas must also be taken into account when the state budget appropriations for that half year are allocated. According to the petitioner, without such a legal regulation, there is a legislative omission, i.e. a legal gap, which is prohibited by the Constitution, because the respective legal regulation must be established precisely in the said law (in the said article).

2.3. The petitioner also notes that the absence of the said legal regulation creates opposition between the interests of political parties, implies contingencies and arbitrariness, and the possibility for the Central Electoral Commission to abuse its discretion in adopting the above-mentioned decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties, knowing that the day of the adoption of its decision will determine which political parties will receive funding and what amount of this funding will be. According to the petitioner, the indicated legislative omission is not in line with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance.

II

The arguments of the representatives of the party concerned

3. In the course of preparing the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, written explanations were received from the senior advisers at the Public Law Unit of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas, Ona Buišienė and Pranas Žukauskas, acting as the representatives of the Seimas, the party concerned. It is maintained in the explanations that Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is not in conflict with the Constitution. The position of the representatives of the Seimas, the party concerned, is substantiated by the following arguments.

3.1. The issue raised by the petitioner regarding the legal regulation laid down in the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is related to the application of the law and not to a legislative omission.

The requirements of lawfulness and transparency with respect to the funding of political parties, including political parties that take part in an electoral political campaign, as well as the requirements of continuous monitoring and control over this funding, arise from the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance. The Central Electoral Commission, as the body executing the separate budget programme of the state budget appropriations allocated to political parties, is bound by the said constitutional principles and it must, therefore, use the state budget appropriations entrusted to it in a responsible and rational manner.

3.2. The provisions of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties must be assessed in the context of the overall legal regulation laid down in the Law on Political Parties and the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Funding, as well as Control over the Funding, of Political Campaigns (wording of 26 November 2013 as subsequently amended) (hereinafter referred to as the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns).

3.2.1. Under the Law on Political Parties, state budget appropriations are allocated only to political parties that fulfil the following established criteria: are registered in the Register of Legal Entities in accordance with the procedure laid down by means of laws; meet the requirements established in laws regarding the number of members of a political party; no restructuring or liquidation procedure has been instituted in respect of them; they have received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties in that election to the Seimas, election to municipal councils, or election to the European Parliament whose results are taken into account for the purpose of allocating state budget appropriations (Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 21). In addition, under Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, a political party that has grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or has committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, upon the decision of the Central Electoral Commission, is not allocated state budget appropriations for a period of up to two years, counting from the date of the entry into force of the said decision.

3.2.2. The time limits specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, by when the Ministry of Justice must submit a note to the Central Electoral Commission concerning the conformity of political parties with the requirements established in laws regarding the number of members of a political party (not later than by 1 April and 1 November of each year), as well as the time limits specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties for the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties and the transfer of these allocations to the accounts of political parties (not later than by 15 April and 15 November of each year), are established by taking into account the length of the final (reporting) stage of political campaigns, which, according to the representatives of the party concerned, under Paragraph 3 of Article 4 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, begins on the day on which the final election results are published and finishes 100 days after this date.

Therefore, only following the expiry of 100-day time limit after the date on which the final election results are published, has the Central Electoral Commission a real possibility of assessing the lawfulness and transparency of the funding of a political party that has taken part in the electoral political campaign and has received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties in the election, as well as a real possibility of assessing the conformity of such political parties with the requirements established in laws.

3.2.3. Consequently, the Central Electoral Commission must adopt decisions to allocate state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties only after it has established that the respective political parties meet the above-mentioned criteria laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and that these political parties have not grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns. Taking into consideration the time limit for the expiry of the final (reporting) stage of political campaigns (100 days after the date on which the final election results are published), it is clear that, in a year in which an election to the Seimas takes place, the Central Electoral Commission, until the end of the second half of the year, has no possibility of assessing the lawfulness and transparency of the funding of the political campaign conducted by a political party in the context of the election to the Seimas and, therefore, is unable to objectively assess whether a political party that has received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties in that election to the Seimas meets all the requirements established in laws, inter alia, the requirements in relation to the lawfulness of the funding of its political campaign, in order to be allocated the said state budget appropriations.

3.2.4. The total amount of state budget appropriations that may be allocated for funding the activities of political parties is determined at the end of the state budget year when the Seimas approves the state budget, which, under Article 131 of the Constitution, must be approved before the start of the new budget year. If the impugned law provided for such a legal regulation under which, in a year in which an election to the Seimas takes place, the funding of political parties for the second half of the year would be established proportionally for the period of powers held by the members of the Seimas in that half year, it would be impossible, during the preparation, consideration, and approval of the state budget, to plan this funding, dependent on the results of the future election to the Seimas. Such a legal regulation would not be consistent with the constitutionally consolidated principles governing the drawing up and approval of the state budget and would not be in line with the constitutional principle of responsible governance.

3.2.5. In accordance with the legal regulation laid down in the Law on Political Parties, inter alia, in Item 3 of Paragraph 4 of Article 21 of this law, funding allocated from the state budget to political parties is, according to the results of the concrete election to the Seimas, calculated during eight half-year periods, i.e. during four budget years, which correspond to the four-year term of office of the Seimas. If provision were made for the legal regulation that, according to the petitioner, is not established, i.e. if it were provided that a calendar half-year period is broken down into parts in the year of an election to the Seimas, the total duration of the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties (taking into account the concrete results of the election to the Seimas) would be the same and the total amount of funding would not change. Therefore, the rights and legitimate expectations of political parties to receive state funding would remain unchanged.

III

The material received in the case

4. In the course of the preparation of the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, written opinions were received from Laura Matjošaitytė, Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Haroldas Šinkūnas, Head of the Public Law Department of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University, as well as the written opinion that was submitted by Prof. Dr. Lyra Jakulevičienė, Dean of the Faculty of Law of Mykolas Romeris University and was prepared by Prof. Dr. Eglė Bilevičiūtė of the Institute of Public Law of the Faculty of Law of Mykolas Romeris University.

4.1. Laura Matjošaitytė, Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission, explained that the Central Electoral Commission, performing the functions assigned to it by laws, in accordance with Articles 20 and 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the State Budget and Municipal Budgets for 2016, having regard to the letter (No (1.18)7R-7633) of the Ministry of Justice of 5 October 2016 concerning the lists of members of political parties, and having assessed that all the necessary legal preconditions had been present for calculating and paying a subsidy for the second half of 2016, on 9 November 2016, had decided the issue on establishing the amount of the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of the year 2016. According to Laura  Matjošaitytė, having regard to the fact that, during the consideration of the said issue, the powers of the members of the Seimas of the term of office of 2012–2016 had not ceased yet, the Central Electoral Commission, by a majority of votes, on 9 November 2016, adopted the decision (No Sp-278) on establishing the amount of the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of the year 2016; by means of this decision, on the basis of the results of the election to the Seimas held in 2012, the Central Electoral Commission allocated the state budget appropriations to political parties for the second half of the year 2016. The opinion of the Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission also states that, after the opinions of the members of the Central Electoral Commission had divided, the then Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission and three members submitted a separate opinion regarding the allocation of state budget appropriations, in which they noted that the state budget appropriations for the second half of the year 2016 should have been allocated to political parties on the basis of the results of the election to the Seimas held in 2016.

As stated by Laura Matjošaitytė, at present, there is no special legal regulation governing the allocation of state budget appropriations in cases where a decision regarding the allocation of the said appropriations is taken after the results of a new election to the Seimas have been approved, but the powers of the members of the Seimas of the previous term of office have not ceased yet. According to Laura Matjošaitytė, the legal regulation governing the allocation of state budget appropriations must be in line with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, i.e. it must be clear, understandable, and non-contradictory; it may not give rise to ambiguities or have gaps; the wording of legal acts must be precise; and there may not be any provisions that would allow the possibility of interpreting the norms in a subjective manner.

4.2. Prof. Dr. Eglė Bilevičiūtė of the Institute of Public Law of the Faculty of Law of Mykolas Romeris University maintains that the impugned legal regulation is unclear and indeterminate and is, therefore, contrary to the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

4.3. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Haroldas Šinkūnas, Head of the Public Law Department of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University, also, inter alia, maintains that the impugned legal regulation is unclear and indeterminate and is, therefore, contrary to the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. In addition, according to him, the impugned legal regulation does not meet the requirements arising from Paragraph 1 of Article 128 of the Constitution in relation to the regulation of the use of state budget funds.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

The scope of investigation

5. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, requests an investigation into whether Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is in conflict with the Constitution, insofar as, according to the petitioner, the said article does not provide that, where a new election to the Seimas takes place in the particular period of a budget year, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated proportionally for the period of the validity of the results of the election to the Seimas and the period of holding the powers of the members of the Seimas.

5.1. The petitioner substantiates its doubts regarding the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution by the fact that, after this article provides for the period within which the Central Electoral Commission must adopt a decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations and their transfer to political parties (the beginning of this period is not defined by a concrete date; but the law provides for the final time limit by which the Central Electoral Commission must adopt the said decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations), it is not established that, in a year in which a new election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations to political parties for the respective period of the budget year must be allocated proportionally for the period of the validity of the results of the election to the Seimas and the period of holding the powers of the members of the Seimas.

Thus, the petitioner raises the question of legislative omission, i.e. it impugns not the legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, but rather the fact that this legal regulation, according to the petitioner, does not establish what, in the opinion of the petitioner, should be established in accordance with the Constitution, i.e. specifically, that the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties for the half year during which a regular election to the Seimas takes place requires a special legal regulation, under which, from the day on which the powers of the newly elected members of the Seimas take effect, the valid results of the new election to the Seimas must also be taken into account when the state budget appropriations for that half year are allocated.

5.2. Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties prescribe:

2. State budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties shall be allocated to those political parties that meet the criteria set out in Paragraph 1 of this Article and have received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties in that election to the Seimas, election to municipal councils, or election to the European Parliament whose results are taken into account for the purpose of allocating these state budget appropriations.

3. State budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties shall be allocated according to the valid results of the respective election to the Seimas, municipal councils, or the European Parliament (rerun election, by-election, or runoff voting), subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election have not ceased or, where they ceased, a vacant place has been occupied without holding an election:

1) according to the results of the last election to the Seimas, municipal councils, or the European Parliament in the multi-member constituency. In the case of the coalition list of nominated candidates, the number of the received votes shall be distributed to the political parties in proportion to the number of the candidates on the coalition list;

[…]”

5.3. It should be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, as mentioned before, the petitioner impugns the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution, insofar as, according to the petitioner, the said article does not provide that, where a new regular election to the Seimas takes place in the particular period of a budget year, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the said election to the Seimas takes place are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated proportionally for the period of the validity of the results of the election to the Seimas and the period of holding the powers of the members of the Seimas.

Thus, the petitioner impugns the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution, inasmuch as, under the legal regulation laid down in this article, state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties are allocated for the half year during which a regular election to the Seimas takes place. The petitioner does not impugn the compliance of the said article with the Constitution from the aspect of other elections, i.e. elections to municipal councils or elections to the European Parliament, referred to in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties.

Consequently, the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution, insofar as it does not provide that, in a year in which a new election to municipal councils or election to the European Parliament takes place, the state budget appropriations to political parties for the respective period of the budget year must be allocated in proportion to the valid results of the respective election to municipal councils or election to the European Parliament and, respectively, in proportion to the powers held by members of municipal councils or members of the European Parliament, is not a matter for investigation in this constitutional justice case.

5.4. Thus, the Constitutional Court will investigate in this constitutional justice case whether Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is in conflict with the Constitution, insofar as this article does not provide that, in a year in which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the election to the Seimas takes place are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated in proportion to the powers held by the members of the Seimas.

II

The impugned and related legal regulation

6. On 26 November 2013, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on Political Parties; by Article 1 of this law, the Seimas amended the Law on Political Parties (wording of 25 September 1990, as subsequently amended and supplemented) and set it out in a new wording. Subsequently, the Law on Political Parties (wording of 26 November 2013) was more than once amended and supplemented.

7. Article 21 “The Procedure for the Calculation of the Amount, Allocation, and Payment of State Budget Appropriations for Funding the Activities of Political Parties” of the Law on Political Parties (wording of 26 November 2013), whose compliance with the Constitution is requested to be investigated in this constitutional justice case, prescribes:

1. Political parties shall have the right to state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties if they, in accordance with the procedure laid down by means of laws, are registered in the Register of Legal Entities, meet the requirements established in laws regarding the number of members of a political party, and no restructuring or liquidation procedure has been instituted in respect of them.

2. State budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties shall be allocated to those political parties that meet the criteria set out in Paragraph 1 of this Article and have received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties in that election to the Seimas [...] whose results are taken into account for the purpose of allocating these state budget appropriations.

3. State budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties shall be allocated according to the valid results of the respective election to the Seimas [...] (rerun election, by-election, or runoff voting), subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election have not ceased or, where they ceased, a vacant place has been occupied without holding an election:

1) according to the results of the last election to the Seimas [...] in the multi-member constituency. In the case of the coalition list of nominated candidates, the number of the received votes shall be distributed to the political parties in proportion to the number of the candidates on the coalition list;

2) according to the results of the last election, the last rerun election, or the last by-election to the Seimas in single-member constituencies. If several political parties have nominated a candidate, the votes received by the candidate shall be distributed equally among the political parties that have nominated this candidate;

3) according to the results of the last runoff voting in single-member constituencies in the respective election to the Seimas. If, upon the election of a member of the Seimas in an election, rerun election, or by-election, no runoff voting is held, then the last results of the election, rerun election, or by-election in the single-member constituency concerned shall be taken instead of the results of a runoff voting. If several political parties have nominated a candidate, the votes received by the candidate shall be distributed equally among the political parties that have nominated this candidate.

4. The amount of state budget appropriations allocated for a political party for funding its activities shall be determined in accordance with the following procedure:

1) by summing up only the votes cast by voters for the candidates of those political parties that, under Paragraph 2 of this Article, are entitled to state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, the number of all votes cast shall be determined;

2) a six-month financial coefficient of one voter’s vote shall be established by dividing half of state budget appropriations allocated for funding the activities of political parties by the number of all votes cast by voters;

3) the six-month state budget appropriations allocated to a political party for funding its activities shall be determined by multiplying the six-month financial coefficient of one voter’s vote by the number of votes cast by voters for the candidates of this political party.

5. The amount of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party for funding its activities shall be determined by the Central Electoral Commission in accordance with the procedure laid down in this Article; the Central Electoral Commission shall, not later than by 15 April and 15 November of each year, transfer the said amount to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party.”

7.1. Thus, summing up the impugned legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, it should be noted that this article establishes the particular criteria and conditions that had to be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activity, inter alia:

a political party had to meet these criteria: it had to be registered in the Register of Legal Entities and have the number of members required by laws, and no restructuring or liquidation procedure may have been instituted in respect of it (Paragraph 1);

a political party also had to meet these conditions: it must have received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters in the last election to the Seimas, subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election, and the results of such election had to be valid (Paragraphs 2 and 3).

7.2. In addition, the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties establishes the procedure for determining the amount of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of a political party, the entity authorised to determine this amount – specifically, the Central Electoral Commission, as well as the time limits by which the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to transfer these appropriations – respectively, not later than by 15 April and 15 November of each year – to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party (Paragraphs 4 and 5).

8. Mention should also be made in this context that Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties establishes one more condition that had to be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activities, i.e. in cases where the Central Electoral Commission recognises that a political party has grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or has committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, state budget appropriations are not allocated, upon the decision of the Central Electoral Commission, to such a political party for a period of up to two years, counting from the date of the entry into force of the said decision.

Thus, in summing up the legal regulation laid down in the impugned Article 21 and Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, the conclusion should be drawn that the Central Electoral Commission had the right to allocate state budget appropriations for funding the activities of only such political parties that satisfied the criteria and conditions established in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, as well as the condition established in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of this law, requiring that a political party must not have grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign.

9. From the aspects relevant to this constitutional justice case, the impugned legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties should be interpreted in the context of the provisions of the Law on Political Parties and the related legal regulation.

9.1. Paragraph 1 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties establishes one of the criteria that, as mentioned before, had to be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activities, i.e. the requirement regarding the number of members of a political party; this requirement should be interpreted in the context of other provisions of the Law on Political Parties designated to regulate the relationships related to checking the lists of members of political parties and submitting them to the Central Electoral Commission.

9.1.1. Under Paragraph 3 of Article 5 of the Law on Political Parties, in order to establish a political party, it must have not less than two thousand founders in the Republic of Lithuania. Under Paragraph 8 (wording of 6 November 2014) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties, which was in force at the time when the impugned Article 21 (wording of 26 November 2013) of the Law on Political Parties was in force, political parties were required, each year not later than by 1 March and 1 October, in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Government, to submit the lists of their members to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Justice was obliged to check the lists of members of political parties and, not later than by 1 April and 1 November of each year, to notify the Central Electoral Commission of whether the number of members of political parties met the requirements of the said law.

Under Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, a note on the conformity of political parties with the requirements laid down by means of laws regarding the number of members of a political party had to be submitted to the Central Electoral Commission by the Ministry of Justice not later than by the above-mentioned dates (respectively by 1 April and 1 November of each year).

While interpreting the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties in conjunction with the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 8 (wording of 6 November 2014) of Article 8 and Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of this law, it should be noted that the Ministry of Justice had to submit a note on the conformity of political parties with the requirements laid down by means of laws regarding the number of members of a political party to the Central Electoral Commission twice a year within the time limit established in this law, but not later than by 1 April and 1 November, respectively. However, the Ministry of Justice could do so only after receiving the data on the number of members from political parties, and political parties were obliged to submit such data to the Ministry of Justice not later than by 1 March and 1 October, respectively.

Thus, under Paragraph 1 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the above-mentioned related legal regulation, 1 April and 1 November were the latest time limits established in the said law by which the Ministry of Justice had to submit a note to the Central Electoral Commission on whether the number of members of political parties was in conformity with the requirements established by means of the law.

9.1.2. It should be noted in this context that, on 15 January 2019, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Preamble to and Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 20 of the Law (No I-606) on Political Parties (hereinafter referred to as the Law Amending the Law on Political Parties), which came into force on 1 March 2019 (with the exception specified therein).

9.1.2.1. By means of Article 6 of the Law Amending the Law on Political Parties, Article 5 (as amended on 6 November 2014) of the Law on Political Parties was amended; however, the requirement established in Paragraph 3 of this article that, in order to establish a political party, it must have not less than two thousand founders in the Republic of Lithuania was not changed.

By means of Article 7 of the Law Amending the Law on Political Parties, Paragraph 8 (wording of 6 November 2014) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties was amended and, by means of Article 8 of the same law, Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties was declared as no longer valid.

Under Paragraph 8 (wording of 15 January 2019) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties, each year not later than by 1 March and 1 October, a political party must, in accordance with the procedure laid down by the institution authorised by the Government, submit a list of its members to the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Justice checks the lists of members of political parties and, not later than by 10 March and 10 October of each year, notifies the Central Electoral Commission if the number of members of political parties meets the requirements of the said law.

9.1.2.2. Having compared, from the aspect relevant to this constitutional justice case, the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 8 (wording of 15 January 2019) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties with the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 8 (wording of 6 November 2014) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties, it should be noted that the time limits by which political parties are (were) required each year to submit the lists of their members to the Ministry of Justice remained unchanged, i.e. by 1 March and 1 October, respectively.

It should be noted at the same time, however, that, under Paragraph 8 (wording of 15 January 2019) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties, the time limits by which the Ministry of Justice is, at the latest, obliged to check the lists of members of political parties and notify the Central Electoral Commission if the number of members of political parties meets the requirements of the Law on Political Parties have shortened: instead of the previous time limits of 1 April and 1 November of each year, shorter time limits expiring on 10 March and 10 October, respectively, have been established.

9.2. As mentioned before, Paragraph 2 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties provides for one of the conditions for allocating state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, under which these appropriations could be allocated only to those political parties that meet the criteria set out in Paragraph 1 of the said article and have received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties in the indicated election, inter alia, election to the Seimas, whose results are taken into account for the purpose of allocating these state budget appropriations.

9.3. It has also been mentioned that Paragraph 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, among others, provides for another condition for allocating state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, i.e. the said state budget appropriations are allocated to political parties according to the valid results of the respective election to the Seimas (rerun election, by-election, or runoff voting), subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election have not ceased or, where they ceased, a vacant place has been occupied without holding an election:

1) according to the results of the last, among others, election to the Seimas in the multi-member constituency;

2) according to the results of the last election, the last rerun election, or the last by-election to the Seimas in single-member constituencies;

3) according to the results of the last runoff voting in single-member constituencies in the respective election to the Seimas. If, upon the election of a member of the Seimas in an election, rerun election, or by-election, no runoff voting is held, then the last results of the election, rerun election, or by-election in the single-member constituency concerned shall be taken instead of the results of a runoff voting.

Consequently, under Paragraph 3 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties are allocated according to the results of the last election to the Seimas in the multi-member constituency and single-member constituencies, subject to the following two conditions: first, the results of the last election had to be valid and, second, the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election.

9.3.1. The legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties should be interpreted in the context of another, related, legal regulation on the validity of the results of elections to the Seimas.

9.3.1.1. In this context, mention should be made of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Elections to the Seimas (wording of 18 July 2000 as subsequently amended and supplemented) (hereinafter referred to as the Law on Elections to the Seimas); under Article 1 of this law, the members of the Seimas are elected for a four-year term in single-member constituencies and the multi-member constituency by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot in a direct mixed-system election.

Article 6 (wording of 17 November 2005 as subsequently amended) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, inter alia, provides that a regular election to the Seimas is held in the year of the expiry of the powers of the members of the Seimas on the second Sunday of October (Paragraph 2); the day when ballot papers are cast in the multi-member constituency and in the first election round in single-member constituencies is considered the day of an election to a new Seimas; the day of runoff voting is also considered a polling day (Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 May 2015)).

Under Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88 “The Establishment of Election Results in Single-Member Constituencies” of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, if more than two candidates have participated in an election and a member of the Seimas has not been elected in accordance with Paragraph 2 of this article, a runoff voting is held after two weeks, in which two candidates who have received the largest number of votes will participate; the date of a runoff voting is announced by the Central Electoral Commission together with the election results.

9.3.1.2. It should be noted in this context that the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, under which, as mentioned before, a runoff voting in single-member constituencies is held two weeks after the day of an election to the Seimas, has not been amended and has remained in force until now. As the data published by the Central Electoral Commission on the results of the held elections to the Seimas show, the practice having evolved in relation to the regular elections of the Seimas on the basis of the said legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas contains no cases where these elections would have taken place without a runoff voting at least in part of single-member constituencies, i.e. a runoff voting was held in conducting all – the 10 October 2004, 12 October 2008, 14 October 2012, and 9 October 2016 – regular elections to the Seimas.

Thus, in this constitutional justice case, it is the date of a runoff voting in single-member constituencies, which takes place two weeks after the fixed day of the respective regular election to the Seimas (Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas) that is of essential significance for interpreting the impugned and related legal regulation.

It should be mentioned that, under Article 92 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, a rerun election is held in the constituencies in which the election has failed or has been declared invalid (Paragraph 1); a rerun election is held not later than within half a year and, where a rerun election has failed, not later than within a year (Paragraph 2).

9.3.1.3. In this context, mention should be made of the ruling of the Constitutional Court of 15 February 2013, in which, inter alia, it was held that, in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 57 of the Constitution, regular elections to the Seimas take place on the second Sunday of October (i.e. between 8 and 14 October). Therefore, a runoff voting, which takes place two weeks after the day of the respective election, is held on the fourth Sunday of October (i.e. between 22 and 28 October).

9.3.1.4. Thus, in summing up the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 May 2015) of Article 6 (wording of 17 November 2005), Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88, and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 92 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, it should be noted that a regular election to the Seimas, which is held on the day precisely specified in the law, i.e. in the year of the expiry of the powers of the members of the Seimas on the second Sunday of October (i.e. between 8 and 14 October), finishes two weeks after this specified date, i.e. on the fourth Sunday of October (i.e. between 22 and 28 October), where a runoff voting takes place in single-member constituencies upon the proper grounds, except in cases where a rerun election is held in constituencies.

9.3.1.5. Article 93 “The Establishment and Publication of Final Election Results” (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas is also relevant in the context of this constitutional justice case. This article prescribes the following:

1. The Central Electoral Commission shall establish the final election results after it has investigated all complaints and established all election results in the constituencies, including votes cast by the voters who have voted on ships and abroad. A decision of the Central Electoral Commission taken on the grounds laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 91 of this Law shall also be regarded as the establishment of the final election results in the constituencies.

2. The Central Electoral Commission shall officially publish final election results not later than within 7 days of the day of the voting in the multi-member constituency and in the first election round in single-member constituencies. If a runoff voting is conducted during an election to a new Seimas, the final results in the multi-member constituency and in those singe-member constituencies where a runoff voting has been conducted shall be officially published not later than within 7 days of the day of the runoff voting. The Central Electoral Commission shall publish the final election results on its website. […]”

Thus, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 93 (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, the final results in an election to the Seimas are established by the Central Electoral Commission and, not later than within seven days of the day of the voting in the multi-member constituency and in the first election round in single-member constituencies, or not later than within seven days of the day of the runoff voting in these constituencies, are officially published by the Central Electoral Commission on its website.

Consequently, it should be noted from the aspect relevant to this constitutional justice case that, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 93 (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, the final results of elections to the Seimas, once they have been established and officially published by the Central Electoral Commission, are considered to be the valid election results.

9.3.1.6. As mentioned before, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 May 2015) of Article 6 (wording of 17 November 2005), Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88, and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 92 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, a regular election to the Seimas, which is held on the concretely established day, i.e. on the second Sunday of October (i.e. between 8 and 14 October) in the year of the expiry of the powers of the members of the Seimas, finishes two weeks after this specified date, i.e. on the fourth Sunday of October (i.e. between 22 and 28 October), where a runoff voting takes place in single-member constituencies upon the proper grounds. Therefore, the final results of an election to the Seimas, held on the second Sunday of October, must officially be published not later than within 7 days of the said election if a runoff voting is not held and, under the above-mentioned legal regulation, this official publication of the final election results may take place in the period between 9 and 21 October. In this case, the earliest possible day for the publication of the final results of an election to the Seimas is 9 October (if a regular election to the Seimas is held on 8 October, which is the earliest possible day for a regular election to the Seimas) and the latest possible day for the publication of the final results of an election to the Seimas is 21 October (if a regular election to the Seimas is held on 14 October, which is the latest possible day for a regular election to the Seimas).

Where, upon the proper grounds, in an election to the Seimas, a runoff voting takes place, which, as mentioned before, is held in single-member constituencies two weeks after the day of the respective election and takes place on the fourth Sunday of October (i.e. between 22 and 28 October), the final results of the runoff voting are published within 7 days and, under the above-mentioned legal regulation, this publication of the final results may take place, respectively, at the end of October or at the beginning of November, i.e. in the period between 23 October and 4 November. Thus, the earliest possible day for the publication of the final results of a runoff voting in an election to the Seimas is 23 October (if a runoff voting is held on 22 October, which is the earliest possible day for a runoff voting in a regular election to the Seimas) and the latest possible day for the publication of the final results of a runoff voting in an election to the Seimas is 4 November (if a runoff voting is held on 28 October, which is the latest possible day for a runoff voting in a regular election to the Seimas).

9.3.1.7. It should also be noted in this context that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (wording of 22 December 1998 as subsequently amended and supplemented) (hereinafter referred to as the Statute of the Seimas), the Seimas is considered elected after the Central Electoral Commission declares that at least 3/5 members of the Seimas have been elected.

Consequently, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 93 (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, if the Central Electoral Commission declares that at least 3/5 members of the Seimas have been elected, the Seimas should be considered elected from the day of the official publication of the results of the respective election to the Seimas.

9.3.1.8. It should be mentioned in this context that the final results of the election to the Seimas held in 2016 were published on 30 October 2016 (decision (No Sp-270) of the Central Electoral Commission of 30 October 2016 on the establishment and publication of the final results of the 9 October 2016 election to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania) and the final results of the election to the Seimas held in 2012 were published on 4 November 2012 (decision (No Sp-321) of the Central Electoral Commission of 4 November 2012 on the establishment and publication of the final results of the 14 October 2012 election to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania).

9.3.2. The legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties should also be interpreted in the context of another, related, legal regulation on the beginning and expiry of the term of powers of the members of the Seimas.

9.3.2.1. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Statute of the Seimas, the term of powers of the members of the Seimas begins to be counted from the day on which a newly elected Seimas convenes for the first sitting; the term of powers of the previously elected members of the Seimas expires upon the beginning of this sitting.

Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, prescribes that the President of the Republic convenes the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas, which must be held within 15 days of the election of the Seimas (Paragraph 2); if the President of the Republic fails to convene the Seimas, the members of the Seimas assemble by themselves on the day following the expiry of the 15-day period (Paragraph 3).

Under Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 8 (wording of 13 October 2011) of the Statute of the Seimas, the powers of a member of the Seimas cease upon the expiry of the term of powers or when the Seimas elected in an early election convenes for the first sitting.

Therefore, it should be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 2, Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 8 (wording of 13 October 2011), and Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas, the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in the previous election to the Seimas cease when the newly elected members of the Seimas convene for the first sitting of the Seimas, which is, as a rule, held within 15 days of the election of the Seimas.

9.3.2.2. As mentioned before, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 May 2015) of Article 6 (wording of 17 November 2005), Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 92, and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 93 (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, as well as in Paragraph 1 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas, if at least 3/5 members of the Seimas have been elected, the Seimas should be considered elected from the day of the official publication of the election results; this day of the official publication of the election results depends on what specific day the second Sunday of October (i.e. the Sunday on which a regular election to the Seimas is held) falls on in the year of the expiry of the powers of the members of the Seimas and on what specific day the fourth Sunday of October (i.e. the Sunday on which a runoff voting takes place in single-member constituencies upon the proper grounds) falls on in the year of the expiry of the powers of the members of the Seimas; this day of the official publication of the election results, as mentioned before, may be at the end of October or at the beginning of November – this depends on the day when the final election results of the runoff voting are published and this publication of the final election results of the runoff voting may take place, as mentioned before, in the period between 23 October and 4 November. Thus, in view of the above-mentioned legal regulation, consolidated, inter alia, in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 93 (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 1 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas, the first sitting of the Seimas, for which the President of the Republic convenes a newly elected Seimas under Paragraph 2 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas and which must be held within 15 days of the election of the Seimas, may at the earliest take place on the day following the above-mentioned day of the official publication of the final results of the election to the Seimas and this may take place in the period between 24 October and 19 November (i.e. on 24 October at the earliest and 19 November at the latest).

Consequently, in summing up the legal regulation discussed above, as consolidated in Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 May 2015) of Article 6 (wording of 17 November 2005), Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 92, and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 93 (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, as well as in Paragraph 1 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas, it should be noted that this legal regulation does not precisely specify the date of the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas, which is, at the same time, also the date of the expiry of the powers of the previously elected members of the Seimas. This date of the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas is not only dependent on what specific day the second Sunday of October (and, respectively, the fourth Sunday of October, when a runoff voting takes place in single-member constituencies upon the proper grounds) falls on in the year in which the regular election to the Seimas must be held under Paragraph 2 of Article 6 (wording of 17 November 2005) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, as well as not only dependent on when specifically, within the permissible time limit of 7 days of the day of the voting in the respective election of the Seimas (the respective runoff voting in single-member constituencies), the Central Electoral Commission officially publishes the final results of the election of a new Seimas; but this date of the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas is also dependent on the right of the President of the Republic to choose a specific date for the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas, which, as mentioned before, must be chosen within the permissible time limit of 15 days of the day of the election of a new Seimas, and this may take place, as mentioned before, in the period between 24 October and 19 November (i.e. on 24 October at the earliest and 19 November at the latest).

Thus, it should be noted from the aspect relevant to this constitutional justice case that the above-mentioned legal regulation created the legal preconditions for various situations, inter alia, in which the powers of the members previously elected to the Seimas may cease before 15 November, or after 15 November, and the latter date, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, was the latest date by which the Central Electoral Commission had to transfer the state budget appropriations for the second half of the year for funding the activities of political parties.

9.3.2.3. It should be mentioned in this context that, according to the decree (No 1K-787) of the President of the Republic of Lithuania of 2 November 2016 on convening the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, a newly elected Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania was convened for the first sitting on 14 November 2016; according to the previous decrees of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, a newly elected Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania had previously been convened for the first sitting on 16 November 2012 (decree (No 1K-1270) of 13 November 2012) and 15 November 2004 (decree (No 115) of 3 November 2004).

9.3.3. Based on the systematic interpretation of the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, in conjunction with the above-mentioned legal regulation laid down in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 93 (wording of 14 May 2015) of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 1 of Article 2 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 82 of the Statute of the Seimas, it should also be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that the two conditions established for allocating state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties according to the last results of an election to the Seimas – first, the results of the last election had to be valid and, second, the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election – did not (does not) necessarily coincide in terms of time, i.e. there could be such situations in which the results of the election of a new Seimas had already been effective, but the powers of the previously elected members of the Seimas had not necessarily ceased yet.

It should be noted in this context that, as mentioned before, after the completion of a new election to the Seimas, first of all, the results of the new election to the Seimas become effective (after, as mentioned before, within 7 days of the held election, they have officially been published by the Central Electoral Commission) and this, counted from the day of the runoff voting in single-member constituencies, as mentioned before, may be at the end of October or at the beginning of November, i.e. in the period between 23 October and 4 November. Whereas, the powers of the previously elected members of the Seimas cease only when the newly elected members of the Seimas convene for the first sitting (whose date must be chosen within the permissible time limit of 15 days of the day of the election of the new Seimas, i.e. of the day of the official publication of the results of the election to the Seimas (the runoff voting in single-member constituencies) and this, as mentioned before, may take place in the period between 24 October and 19 November (i.e. on 24 October at the earliest and 19 November at the latest)) and when, at the same time, the powers of the newly elected members of the Seimas take effect.

9.3.4. Consequently, under the impugned legal regulation laid down in Article 21, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of this article, of the Law on Political Parties and the related legal regulation, among others, in a year in which a new regular election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the regular election to the Seimas takes place had to be allocated according to the valid results of the last election to the Seimas, specifically, subject to the condition that, at the time of making a decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in that last election must not have ceased or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election.

9.4. As mentioned before, Paragraph 4 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties prescribes:

The amount of state budget appropriations allocated for a political party for funding its activities shall be determined in accordance with the following procedure:

1) by summing up only the votes cast by voters for the candidates of those political parties that, under Paragraph 2 of this Article, are entitled to state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, the number of all votes cast shall be determined;

2) a six-month financial coefficient of one voter’s vote shall be established by dividing half of state budget appropriations allocated for funding the activities of political parties by the number of all votes cast by voters;

3) the six-month state budget appropriations allocated to a political party for funding its activities shall be determined by multiplying the six-month financial coefficient of one voter’s vote by the number of votes cast by voters for the candidates of this political party.”

Consequently, Paragraph 4 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties establishes the procedure for determining the amount of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party for funding its activities; according to this procedure, among others, the six-month state budget appropriations allocated to a political party were calculated (determined).

Thus, in accordance with this model of funding political parties from state budget appropriations, as consolidated by the above-mentioned legal regulation, this funding was calculated and allocated to political parties every half a year, i.e. by six-month appropriations provided for by the legislature.

9.4.1. It should be noted in this context that, as mentioned before, under Article 1 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, the Seimas is elected for a four-year term. It has also been mentioned that, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties are allocated to those political parties that meet the criteria set out in Paragraph 1 of this article and, among other things, have received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties in that, inter alia, election to the Seimas whose results are taken into account for the purpose of allocating these state budget appropriations.

It should also be noted that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, state budget appropriations to political parties are provided for in the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the State Budget and Municipal Budgets for each year and are allocated through a separate budget programme executed by the Central Electoral Commission; under Paragraph 2 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, a total amount of state budget appropriations allocated to political parties is fixed in the state budget. Thus, yearly state budget appropriations to political parties are each year approved by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the State Budget and Municipal Budgets, which is adopted by the Seimas.

In view of the fact that, as mentioned before, under Article 1 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, the Seimas is elected for a four-year term, the conclusion should be drawn that political parties that have received, inter alia, the established percentage of all the votes cast by voters in the respective election to the Seimas acquire the right, for the period of the same duration, i.e. during four years, to receive state budget appropriations, which, under Paragraph 4 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, are allocated in six-month appropriations, i.e. during eight half years in total.

9.4.2. It should also be noted in this context that, under Paragraph 6 of Article 2 (wording of 16 October 2012) of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Budget Structure, a budget year is a 12-month budget period running from 1 January to 31 December.

Thus, based on the systematic interpretation of the legal regulation laid down in Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, in conjunction with the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of this law, Article 1 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, and Paragraph 6 of Article 2 (wording of 16 October 2012) of the Law on the Budget Structure, this legal regulation should be understood so that the above-mentioned four-year state budget appropriations to political parties must start to be allocated from the beginning of the budget year following the respective new regular election to the Seimas (i.e. from 1 January of the respective year) and, as mentioned before, these appropriations must be allocated to political parties each year on a six-month basis, during eight half years in total.

9.5. As mentioned before, Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties provides that the Central Electoral Commission is an entity authorised, in accordance with the procedure established in Paragraph 4 of Article 21 of the same law, to determine the amount of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party for funding its activities, as well as establishes the time limits by which the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to transfer these appropriations – respectively, not later than by 15 April and 15 November of each year – to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party.

9.5.1. In interpreting these time limits, established in Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, in conjunction with the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 4 of this article, which, among other things, provides for the procedure for determining six-month state budget appropriations allocated to a political party, it should be stated that 15 April of each year was the latest time limit (the latest date) by which the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to transfer the state budget appropriations of an established amount for the first half of a year to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party and, respectively, 15 November of each year was the latest time limit (the latest date) by which the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to transfer the state budget appropriations of an established amount for the second half of a year to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party.

It should be noted that these time limits, established in Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, by which it was obligatory to transfer state budget appropriations to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party, should, at the same time, be regarded as the time limits by which the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to adopt decisions on determining the concrete amounts of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties and on allocating these amounts to political parties.

9.5.2. Based on the systematic interpretation of the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, in conjunction with the legal regulation laid down in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the same article, Paragraph 8 (wording of 6 November 2014) of Article 8, and Paragraph 3 of Article 20 of this law, it should be pointed out in the context of this constitutional justice case that, under this legal regulation, the Central Electoral Commission could adopt a decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the first half and second half of a year and determine the concrete amounts of these appropriations not later than by 15 April and 15 November of each year, respectively, when the said dates of 15 April and 15 November were the latest time limits for transferring state budget appropriations for the first half and second half of a year, respectively, to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party; the Central Electoral Commission could not adopt this decision earlier than the Ministry of Justice provided it with information (notification) on the conformity of political parties with the requirements established in laws regarding the number of members of a political party, which the Ministry of Justice was required to submit to the Central Electoral Commission not later than by 1 April and 1 November, respectively (as mentioned before, the Ministry of Justice could do so only after it had received data from political parties on the number of their members, not later than by 1 March and 1 October, respectively).

Consequently, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the related legal regulation, the above-mentioned decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties had to be taken by the Central Electoral Commission within a certain period of time, whose beginning was not precisely specified, as the concrete beginning of this period depended on the actions of other entities – political parties and the Ministry of Justice – in providing and checking data on the number of members of political parties and, as mentioned before, the number of members of political parties is one of the conditions for receiving state budget appropriations under the impugned legal regulation.

It should also be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, in view of the above-mentioned time limits provided for in the law, the minimum period for a decision to be taken on state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of a year was from 1 to 15 November; but this period could be longer – it had to end not later than on 15 November, which, as mentioned before, was the latest time limit for the Central Electoral Commission to transfer state budget appropriations for the second half of a year to political parties; however, this period could also start earlier, depending on when all political parties submitted the lists of their members to the Ministry of Justice and when this ministry, after having checked the said lists, provided this information to the Central Electoral Commission.

9.5.3. If the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the related legal regulation, under which a decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties for the second half of a year could not be adopted by the Central Electoral Commission later than on 15 November, but the beginning of the period established for adopting this decision was not precisely specified, is interpreted in the context of the above-mentioned legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, under which state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties are allocated according to the valid results of not any last election to the Seimas, but, specifically, such last election to the Seimas that meets the condition requiring that the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election, and the related legal regulation, it should be noted that, under the indicated legal regulation, in a year in which a new regular election to the Seimas takes place in October and, specifically, during the period within which a decision had to be taken by the Central Electoral Commission on the allocation of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of the year, the following legal situations could occur:

the results of the last election to the Seimas that had taken place before the new election to the Seimas were effective and the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in that election had not ceased;

the results of the new election to the Seimas were already effective and the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in the last election to the Seimas that had taken place before the new election to the Seimas had already ceased, because the powers of the newly elected members of the Seimas took effect when the newly elected Seimas convened for its first sitting.

10. The legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the impugned Law on Political Parties, inter alia, Paragraphs 3 and 5 of this article, should also be interpreted in the context of the legal regulation laid down in the above-mentioned Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties.

As mentioned before, Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties establishes one more condition that had to be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activities: in cases where the Central Electoral Commission recognises that a political party has grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or has committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, state budget appropriations are not allocated, upon the decision of the Central Electoral Commission, to such a political party for a period of up to two years, counting from the date of the entry into force of the said decision.

10.1. It should be noted in this context that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the Law on Political Parties, the following violations are considered to be gross violations of the Law on Political Parties: the provision of knowingly false data in a set of financial reports of a political party (Item 1); the use of state budget appropriations not in accordance with the designation set out in this law (Item 2); the loss of documents subject to retention or other activities because of which it is impossible to determine whether a set of financial reports of a political party is accurate (Item 3).

It should also be noted that, according to Paragraph 5 of Article 23 of the Law on Political Parties, each year but not later than by 15 March, political parties submit to the Central Electoral Commission an approved set of their respective financial reports for the previous calendar year and an annex containing a report on the use of state budget appropriations.

Consequently, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 5 of Article 23 and Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the Law on Political Parties, the financial reports of political parties, inter alia, for a year in which a regular election to the Seimas takes place, are submitted not later than by 15 March of the following year. Thus, these financial reports are assessed in the first half of the calendar year following a regular election to the Seimas, which means that it is only during this period that the Central Electoral Commission is able to ascertain a gross violation (gross violations) of the Law on Political Parties relating to a set of financial reports of a political party and, in accordance with Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of this law (the condition set out therein), has the right not to allocate state budget appropriations to a political party having committed the said violation.

At the same time, it should also be noted that Paragraph 1 of Article 27 of the Law on Political Parties requires regular monitoring over the funding of political parties.

10.2. It should also be pointed out in this context that, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, upon the decision of the Central Electoral Commission, a political party is likewise not allocated any state budget appropriations for a certain period of time if it has committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign.

Under Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, inter alia, the following is considered to be the gross violations of this law:

1) funding a participant of a political campaign with the unacceptable donations specified in Article 12 of this Law;

2) if a participant of a political campaign makes decisions to use, for the purposes of the political campaign, donations received from the persons who have no right to fund political campaigns or from the impermissible sources of funding a political campaign;

3) if a participant of a political campaign concludes political campaign funding agreements in violation of the requirements of this Law;

4) the provision of knowingly false data in a report on political campaign funding;

[...]

8) the loss of documents subject to retention or other activities because of which it is impossible to determine whether a report on political campaign funding, submitted by a participant of a political campaign, is accurate;

[…]”

10.3. It should also be noted from the aspect relevant to this constitutional justice case that, under Article 4 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, a political campaign comprises the election campaigning stage and the final (reporting) stage (Paragraph 1); the final (reporting) stage begins, inter alia, on the day when the final results of an election are published and finishes 100 days after the day of the publication of the final results of the election (Paragraph 3).

10.3.1. It should be noted that, according to Item 1 of Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, a political party may be registered only as an independent participant of a political campaign.

Article 20 “The Independent Inspection of Independent Participants of a Political Campaign” of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, inter alia, prescribes:

1. An independent participant of a political campaign who, during the political campaign, has received the amount of revenue exceeding 70 average monthly earnings must conclude, with an audit firm or an auditor, a contract for the independent inspection of an independent participant of the political campaign. The treasurer of the political campaign shall submit a copy of this contract to the Central Electoral Commission not later than within 25 calendar days after the date of the publication of the final results of the election (rerun election) or referendum.

2. The independent inspection of independent participants of a political campaign who, during the political campaign, have received the amount of revenue lower than 70 average monthly earnings shall be organised by the Central Electoral Commission. […]”

Under Paragraph 4 of Article 17 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, the treasurer of a political campaign (who, as established in Paragraph 2 of this article, manages the financial accounting of a political campaign), in cases where the obligation set out in Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of this law does not arise for an independent participant of the political campaign, submits a report on political campaign funding to the Central Electoral Commission not later than within 25 calendar days after the date of the publication of the final results of the election (Item 5); in cases where the obligation set out in Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of this law arises for an independent participant of a political campaign, the treasurer of the political campaign submits a report on political campaign funding and the auditor’s report on the noticed facts to the Central Electoral Commission not later than within 85 calendar days after the date of the publication of the final results of the election (Item 6).

Thus, under the legal regulation established in Items 5 and 6 of Paragraph 4 of Article 17 and Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, depending on the amount of revenue received during a political campaign by an independent participant of the political campaign, a report on political campaign funding must be submitted to the Central Electoral Commission not later than, respectively, within 25 or 85 calendar days after the date of the publication of the final results of the election.

10.3.2. It should be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, as mentioned before, in view of the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 May 2015) of Article 6 (wording of 17 November 2005), Paragraph 3 (wording of 20 August 2004) of Article 88, and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 92 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, the final results of an election to the Seimas must be published not later than within 7 days of the election, i.e. counting 7 days after the fourth Sunday of October (when, as mentioned before, a runoff voting takes place in single-member constituencies), thus, in the period between 23 October and 4 November.

Therefore, if the legal regulation laid down in Items 5 and 6 of Paragraph 4 of Article 17 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 20 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns is interpreted in conjunction with the above-mentioned legal regulation laid down in the Law on Elections to the Seimas, it should be noted that a report on political campaign funding is submitted to the Central Electoral Commission after the date of the publication of the final results of the regular election to the Seimas (the runoff voting in single-member constituencies) (as mentioned before, in the period between 23 October and 4 November), not later than, respectively, within 25 or 85 calendar days, i.e. at the latest, respectively, in the period between 17 and 29 November and the period between 16 and 28 January of the following calendar year.

Therefore, in view of the latest possible time limits for submitting reports on political campaign funding (at the latest, respectively, in the period between 17 and 29 November and the period between 16 and 28 January of the following calendar year), the conclusion should be drawn that, under the legal regulation laid down in the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns and the related legal regulation, reports on political campaign funding are submitted to and assessed by the Central Electoral Commission after 15 November, i.e. after the latest time limit (latest date) established in the law by which, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, the Central Electoral Commission was (is) obliged to take a decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of the budget year and to transfer them to the accounts of state budget appropriations allocated to political parties.

10.4. Thus, based on the systematic interpretation of the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties and the related legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 5 of Article 23 of the same law, Items 5 and 6 of Paragraph 4 of Article 17 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 20 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, as well as the other indicated legal regulation, it should be noted that, according to this legal regulation, the Central Electoral Commission could (can) normally recognise that a political party had (has) grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or had (has) committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, inter alia, in the year in which the regular election to the Seimas took (takes) place, only after 15 November (the latest time limit by which, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, the Central Electoral Commission was (is) obliged to transfer state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the second half of the budget year), except in individual cases where the said gross violations had (have) been determined before the decision of the Central Electoral Commission on the allocation of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the election took (takes) place, as, for instance: where, in the context of the regular monitoring of the funding of political parties under Paragraph 1 of Article 27 of the Law on Political Parties, the gross violations of the Law on Political Parties had (have) been found earlier, i.e. before 15 November, as well as where political parties had (have) submitted their reports on political campaign funding earlier than within the latest periods laid down in the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns for their submission (respectively, in the period between 17 and 29 November and the period between 16 and 28 January of the following calendar year) and, after assessing these reports, the Central Electoral Commission had (have) found gross violations in relation to the funding of the political campaign before 15 November.

11. From the aspects relevant to this constitutional justice case, in summing up the legal regulation laid down in the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the related legal regulation laid down, inter alia, in Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 20 and Paragraph 5 of Article 23 of the same law, Items 5 and 6 of Paragraph 4 of Article 17 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 20 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, as well as in Article 1 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 6 of Article 2 (wording of 16 October 2012) of the Law on the Budget Structure, it should be noted that, under this legal regulation:

the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to allocate six-month state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties to those political parties that satisfied the criteria established in Paragraph 1 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the conditions set out in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the same article and Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the said law; such a decision had to be adopted by the Central Electoral Commission not later than, respectively, by 15 April and 15 November of each year, which were the latest time limits (latest dates) for transferring the state budget appropriations allocated to political parties for, respectively, the first half and second half of a budget year (Paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties);

state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties were allocated, inter alia, according to the valid results of the last election to the Seimas (rerun election, by-election, or runoff voting) – specifically, such last election to the Seimas that met the condition requiring that the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased yet or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election (Paragraph 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties);

the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to allocate state budget appropriations to political parties, inter alia, for that half year of the respective budget year during which the next regular election to the Seimas took place (in this case, state budget appropriations for the eighth half year), according to the same criteria and conditions, as well as according to the procedure and time limits for the allocation of state budget appropriations, as established, as mentioned before, in the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of this law, which were to be applied in conjunction;

given that the Seimas is elected for a four-year term, political parties having obtained the established percentage of all the votes cast by voters, inter alia, in the respective election to the Seimas had the right, for the period of the same duration, i.e. during four years, to receive state budget appropriations allocated in six-month appropriations, i.e. during eight half years in total; the allocation of these six-month state budget appropriations during a period of four years starts from the beginning of the budget year following the last regular election to the Seimas, i.e. from 1 January of the respective year, according to the valid results of the last election to the Seimas, subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election have not ceased or, where they ceased, a vacant place have been occupied without holding an election;

state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, inter alia, for the half year (in this case, the eighth half year) during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, are allocated according to the same criteria and conditions, applied together and established in Article 21 and Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, based on which the said appropriations are also allocated during the previous seven half years, i.e. six-month state budget appropriations over the period of the above-mentioned duration of four years (eight half years in total) are allocated according to the same conditions and procedure, because the condition established in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, requiring that a political party must not have grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, could normally be implemented only after 15 November, which, as mentioned before, was the latest time limit for the Central Electoral Commission to transfer the state budget appropriations allocated to political parties for the second half of the respective budget year.

12. On 15 November 2018, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending Articles 2 and 21 of the Law (No I-606) on Political Parties (which came into force on 1 January 2019 pursuant to Article 3 of this law) and, by Article 2 of this law, the Seimas amended Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties (wording 26 November 2013).

After comparing the legal regulation laid down in Article 21 (wording of 15 November 2018) of the Law on Political Parties with the legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties (wording of 26 November 2013), it should be noted that it has not principally changed from the aspect relevant to this constitutional justice case, with the exception of the condition established in Paragraph 2 of Article 21 (wording of 15 November 2018) of the Law on Political Parties, which must be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activities, i.e. the percentage of all the votes cast by voters for the candidates of political parties, including in an election to the Seimas, has been reduced from 3 to 2 per cent.

It should also be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, which provides for the indicated condition that must be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activities (a political party must not have grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign), as well as the related legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 5 of Article 23 and Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the Law on Political Parties and Items 5 and 6 of Paragraph 4 of Article 17 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 20 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, has not been amended.

13. As mentioned before, on 15 January 2019, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Preamble to and Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 20 of the Law (No I-606) on Political Parties, which came into force on 1 March 2019 (with the exception specified therein). After comparing the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 8 (wording of 15 January 2019) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties with the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 8 (wording of 6 November 2014) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties, it has been noted that Paragraph 8 (wording of 15 January 2019) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties provides for the shorter time limits by which the Ministry of Justice is, at the latest, obliged to check the lists of members of political parties and notify the Central Electoral Commission if the number of members of political parties meets the requirements of the Law on Political Parties: i.e. instead of the previously established time limits of 1 April and 1 November of each year, the time limits expiring, respectively, on 10 March and 10 October have been established.

Thus, under the currently effective legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 5 of Article 21 (wording of 15 November 2018) and Paragraph 8 (wording of 15 January 2019) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties and the related legal regulation, the above-mentioned decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties must be taken by the Central Electoral Commission within a certain period of time, whose beginning is not precisely specified, but the minimum duration of this period, compared with that laid down in Paragraph 8 (wording of 6 November 2014) of Article 8 of the Law on Political Parties, is longer; the Central Electoral Commission has the right to take this decision in the period between 10 October and 15 November.

14. In the context of this constitutional justice case, mention should also be made of the provisions of the relevant documents of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), acting as an advisory body to the Council of Europe, inter alia, on constitutional matters.

14.1. The Guidelines on the Financing of Political Parties, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 46th plenary meeting on 9–10 March 2001, contain the following provisions:

public financing must be aimed at each party represented in Parliament (Paragraph 3);

in order to ensure the equality of opportunities for the different political forces, public financing could also be extended to political bodies representing a significant section of the electoral body and presenting candidates for election; the level of financing could be fixed by the legislator on a periodic basis, according to objective criteria (Paragraph 4);

the financing of political parties through public funds should be on condition that the accounts of political parties shall be subject to control by specific public organs (for example, by a Court of Audit); states shall promote a policy of financial transparency of political parties that benefit from public financing (Paragraph 5).

Thus, the Guidelines on the Financing of Political Parties consolidate the general provisions as, for instance: each party represented in Parliament can be financed through public funds; the legislator may provide that these funds may also be received on a periodic basis by other political bodies according to the objective criteria established by the legislator; for reasons of transparency, states have the right to control the use of the said funds; however, these guidelines do not contain provisions that would specify how public financing should be allocated to political parties.

14.2. At its 84th plenary meeting on 15–16 October 2010, the Venice Commission adopted the Guidelines on Political Party Regulation (prepared jointly with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Mention should be made of the following provisions of the Guidelines on Political Party Regulation that are relevant to the constitutional justice case under consideration:

legislation should explicitly allow financial support for political parties from the state; where financial support is provided to political parties, the relevant legislation should develop clear guidelines to determine the amount of such funding, which should be allocated to recipients (political parties) in an objective and unbiased manner (Paragraph 178);

the level of available public funding should be clearly defined in the relevant statutes and regulation; the rights and duties of the body with legal authority to set and revise the maximum level of financial support should also be clearly defined in law (Paragraph 189);

it is reasonable for states to legislate minimum requirements, which must be satisfied for the provision of public funding; such requirements may include: registration as a political party; proof of a minimum level of support; gender balanced representation; proper completion of financial reports as required (including for the previous election); compliance with relevant accounting and auditing standards (Paragraph 192).

Thus, in accordance with the provisions formulated in the Guidelines on Political Party Regulation and related to the allocation of public finances (funds) to political parties, states have the right to set, inter alia, the minimum requirements for political parties seeking to receive public funding; the principles applicable to the establishment and allocation of these finances (funds), as well as the rights and duties of the bodies determining the amount of these funds and allocating them, should be clearly defined in national legislation.

 

III

The provisions of the Constitution and the official constitutional doctrine

15. Thus, the Constitutional Court is investigating in this constitutional justice case whether Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is in compliance with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance, insofar as this article does not provide that, in a year in which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the election to the Seimas takes place are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated in proportion to the powers held by the members of the Seimas.

16. It should be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, as held by the Constitutional Court in its ruling of 29 March 2012, the Constitution does not directly provide for any sources and ways of funding, or any grounds for control over funding, election campaigns and their participants, inter alia, political parties; however, the related principles accordingly arise from the Constitution, inter alia, from the striving for an open civil society, which is enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution, as well as from the specificity of the political striving of parties, which are provided for directly (indicated expressis verbis), inter alia, in Article 35 of the Constitution, and from the specificity of the implementation of this striving.

17. Paragraph 3 of Article 35 of the Constitution provides that the founding and activities of political parties are regulated by law. Interpreting this constitutional provision and other related constitutional provisions in its ruling of 29 March 2012, the Constitutional Court noted the following:

in regulating the founding and activities of political parties, the legislature, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 thereof, may establish, inter alia, the sources and ways of funding political parties, as well as the procedure for control over this funding; in regulating the relationships connected with the founding and activities of political parties, the legislature may, at the same time, provide for such sources and ways of funding political parties (including, inter alia, the allocation of state budget funds to political parties) through which it is sought to ensure that the political parties whose candidates have received significant approval (trust) from voters in the respective elections have the possibility of strengthening this approval (trust) of voters by the democratic and lawful means of implementing their political striving;

when consolidating a model of regulating the relationships connected with the sources and ways of funding, and control over funding, political parties, the legislature is bound by the Constitution, inter alia, by the striving for an open civil society, entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, i.e. the legislature is not permitted to create any preconditions for denying or distorting the nature of political parties as public (non-governmental) organisations, for exerting a negative influence on the free development of the multi-party system, or for disproportionately complicating the possibilities for the political parties not satisfying the conditions for the receipt of state budget funds to implement their political striving; nor may the legislature lay down any legal regulation creating the preconditions for receiving public (state) funds by the parties that have committed such violations of laws that have been assessed as essential by the state institutions authorised to exercise control over the funding of a political campaign;

under the Constitution, the legislature may establish such a model of regulating the relationships connected with the sources and ways of funding political parties that includes the allocation of state budget funds (appropriations) to those political parties whose candidates have received significant approval (trust) from voters in the respective elections; however, this legal regulation may create no possibilities of receiving such an amount of state budget funds (appropriations) that would give rise to the preconditions for denying or distorting the nature of political parties as public (non-governmental) organisations, for exerting a negative influence on the free development of the multi-party system, for disproportionally complicating the possibilities for the political parties not satisfying the conditions for the receipt of state budget funds to implement their political striving, or for violating the principles of responsible governance and the rational management of state property.

18. It should be noted in the context of the constitutional justice case under consideration that, as held by the Constitutional Court more than once, the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, gives rise to the requirement that state property must be used sparingly, not wasted, and managed rationally (inter alia, the rulings of 30 September 2003 and 5 July 2007, as well as the ruling (no KT26-N13/2016) of 5 October 2016); all state institutions that have the powers to adopt decisions on the possession, use, and disposal of state-owned property must observe the norms and principles of the Constitution (the rulings of 30 September 2003 and 30 October 2008, as well as the ruling (no KT26-N13/2016) of 5 October 2016); the provision “the procedure for the possession, use, and disposal of state-owned property shall be established by law” of Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution gives rise to the duty of the legislature to establish, by means of a law, all key elements of the relationships connected with the possession, use, and disposal of state property (the rulings of 23 August 2005 and 24 February 2015).

19. As mentioned before, the petitioner requests an investigation into whether Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is in conflict with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance.

19.1. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law integrates various values consolidated, protected, and defended by the Constitution, as well as that the content of this constitutional principle reveals itself in various provisions of the Constitution; the essence of this principle is the rule of law; the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is especially broad and comprises a wide range of various interrelated imperatives; this principle must be followed in the process of both making and implementing law (inter alia, the rulings of 29 June 2010, 19 November 2015, and 15 March 2017).

19.2. The imperative of legal certainty and legal clarity, which is one of the essential elements of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, implies that a legal regulation is subject to certain obligatory requirements: a legal regulation must be clear and harmonious; legal norms must be formulated precisely and may not contain any ambiguities (inter alia, the rulings of 30 May 2003, 24 December 2008, and 7 December 2016); the wording of legal acts must be precise; the consistency and internal coherence of the legal system must be ensured (inter alia, the rulings of 13 December 2004, 29 September 2005, and 24 February 2017).

19.3. Among others, the protection of legitimate expectations and legal security are inseparable elements of the principle of a state under the rule of law.

The constitutional principles of legal certainty, legal security, and the protection of legitimate expectations imply the duty of the state to ensure the certainty and stability of a legal regulation, to protect the rights of persons, and to respect legitimate interests and legitimate expectations; if legal certainty, legal security, and the protection of legitimate expectations were not ensured, the trust of a person in the state and law would not be ensured, either (inter alia, the rulings of 4 March 2003 and 24 December 2008 and the decision of 20 April 2010).

19.4. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that the constitutional principle of justice is also an inseparable element of the content of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law (inter alia, the rulings of 22 December 2010, 17 November 2011, and 27 October 2016); justice may be implemented by ensuring a certain balance of interests and by avoiding contingencies and arbitrariness, the instability of social life, and clashes of interests (inter alia, the rulings of 24 December 2008, 14 May 2015, and 19 May 2017); the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, among other things, also obliges to respect the requirement of reasonableness (the rulings of 29 June 2010 and 20 June 2016).

19.5. The constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is also reflected in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 of the Constitution, which consolidate the constitutional principles of responsible governance and the responsibility of the authorities to society; the said paragraphs stipulate that the scope of power is limited by the Constitution and that state institutions serve the people (the rulings of 12 April 2018 and 16 April 2019).

The principle of responsible governance, which is consolidated in the Constitution, implies that all state institutions and officials, inter alia, the Central Electoral Commission and territorial institutions for organising elections, are obliged to follow the Constitution and law while performing their functions and to properly implement the powers conferred on them by the Constitution and laws by acting in the interests of the people and the State of Lithuania (the conclusions of 26 October 2012 and 10 November 2012).

In its ruling of 8 March 2018, interpreting, among other things, the content of one of the principles governing the activity of public authorities and officials – the principle of transparency, arising from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, the Constitutional Court noted that this principle implies accountability to the respective community and the responsibility of decision-making officials for their decisions; adopted decisions must be reasoned and clear so that, if the need arises, it would be possible to provide rational reasons for them. Transparency is a necessary precondition, inter alia, for preventing the abuse of power; therefore, it is also a necessary precondition for people to have trust in public authorities and the state in general (the rulings of 22 January 2008, 8 March 2018, and 12 April 2018).

20. It should be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the protection of legitimate expectations, justice, and responsible governance, in regulating the relationships connected with the founding and activities of political parties, inter alia, in establishing the sources and ways of funding political parties, as well as the procedure for control over this funding, the legislature has wide discretion; the legislature, inter alia, may choose state budget funds as a source of funding the political parties whose candidates have received significant approval (trust) from voters in the respective elections.

It should also be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, once the legislature has chosen state budget funds as a source of funding political parties, the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the protection of legitimate expectations, justice, and responsible governance give rise to the duty of the legislature to establish such a model of regulating the relationships connected with this chosen source of funding political parties that ensures the proper, transparent, and public allocation of state budget funds to political parties according to the procedure established by means of a law, inter alia, according to the clear and objective criteria and (or) conditions and other essential elements (including time limits) of the allocation of state budget funds to political parties, so as to ensure, among others, the transparency and objectivity of this process and provide the state institutions authorised to allocate state budget funds with no possibilities for the abuse of the powers conferred on them or for the allocation of state budget funds in an unfair and non-transparent manner, thus in violation of the principles of responsible governance and the rational management of state property. The legislature may not establish such a legal regulation that would create the preconditions for receiving public (state) funds by political parties if they have committed such violations of laws that have been assessed as essential (gross) by the state institutions authorised to exercise control over the funding of a political campaign; the legislature also may not establish a legal regulation consolidating such conditions for allocating state budget funds to political parties that would disproportionately complicate their possibilities of implementing their political striving or would have a negative influence on the free development of the multi-party system.

21. Other provisions of the Constitution are also relevant to the constitutional justice case under consideration.

21.1. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 55 of the Constitution, the members of the Seimas are elected for a four-year term and, under Paragraph 1 of Article 57 (wording of 13 July 2004), a regular election to the Seimas is held in the year of the expiry of the powers of the members of the Seimas on the second Sunday of October (i.e. from 8 to 14 October) (the ruling of 15 February 2013). Under Paragraph 2 of Article 55 of the Constitution, the Seimas is considered elected when not less than 3/5 of the members of the Seimas are elected.

Paragraph 1 of Article 59 of the Constitution provides that the term of powers of the members of the Seimas begins to be counted from the day on which a newly elected Seimas convenes for the first sitting; the term of powers of the previously elected members of the Seimas expires upon the beginning of this sitting.

Under Article 65 of the Constitution, the President of the Republic convenes the first sitting of a newly elected Seimas, which must be held within 15 days of the election of the Seimas; if the President of the Republic fails to convene the Seimas, the members of the Seimas assemble by themselves on the day following the expiry of the 15-day period.

Under Item 1 of Article 63 of the Constitution, the powers of a member of the Seimas cease upon the expiry of the term of powers, or when the Seimas elected in an early election convenes for the first sitting.

Thus, under Paragraph 2 of Article 55, Paragraph 1 of Article 57 (wording of 13 July 2004), Paragraph 1 of Article 59, Item 1 of Article 63, and Article 65 of the Constitution, a regular election to the Seimas is held in the year of the expiry of the powers of the members of the Seimas on the second Sunday of October; the Seimas is considered elected when not less than 3/5 of the members of the Seimas are elected; the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in the previous election to the Seimas cease when the newly elected members of the Seimas convene for the first sitting of the Seimas, which is, as a rule, held not later than within 15 days of the election of the Seimas.

21.2. Article 129 of the Constitution provides that the budget year starts on 1 January and ends on 31 December.

When disclosing the constitutional concept of the state budget, the Constitutional Court has held that, under the Constitution, a budget year coincides with a calendar year; the Seimas must approve the state budget, specifically, for a budget year, rather than any other period of time; each budget year, the Seimas must form the state budget for the following budget year, by taking into consideration the existing social and economic situation, the needs and possibilities of society and the state, the available or potential financial resources, and the obligations of the state, as well as other important factors; when passing a law on the state budget, the Seimas must pay regard to the striving for a just and harmonious society, enshrined in the Constitution (the ruling of 14 January 2002 and the decision of 20 April 2010).

IV

The assessment of the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution

22. As mentioned before, the Constitutional Court is investigating in this constitutional justice case whether Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is in compliance with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance, insofar as this article does not provide that, in a year in which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the election to the Seimas takes place are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated in proportion to the powers held by the members of the Seimas.

23. The petitioner substantiates its doubts regarding the compliance of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the Constitution by the fact that, this article provides for the period within which the Central Electoral Commission must adopt a decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations and their transfer to political parties (the beginning of this period is not defined by a concrete date; but the law provides for the final time limit by which the Central Electoral Commission must, at the latest, adopt the said decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations), but this article does not establish that, in a year in which a new election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations to political parties for the respective period of the budget year must be allocated proportionally for the period of the validity of the results of the election to the Seimas and the period of holding the powers of the members of the Seimas. Thus, which political parties will receive funding and what amount of this funding will be depends on the date of adopting the above-mentioned decision by the Central Electoral Commission on the allocation of state budget appropriations. Therefore, the absence of the legal regulation indicated above is, according to the petitioner, a legislative omission, which implies, inter alia, the possibility for the Central Electoral Commission to abuse its discretion in adopting the decision on the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties and creates opposition between the interests of political parties.

24. In deciding regarding the compliance of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance, insofar as this article does not provide that, in a year in which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the election to the Seimas takes place are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated in proportion to the powers held by the members of the Seimas, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, the petitioner impugns not the legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, but rather the fact that this legal regulation does not establish what, in the opinion of the petitioner, should be established in accordance with the Constitution, i.e. specifically, that the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties for the half year during which a regular election to the Seimas takes place requires a special legal regulation, under which, from the day on which the powers of the newly elected members of the Seimas take effect, the valid results of the new election to the Seimas must also be taken into account when the state budget appropriations for that half year are allocated, i.e. the petitioner raises the question of legislative omission.

24.1. It should be noted in this context that, as the Constitutional Court has more than once pointed out, a legal gap, inter alia, a legislative omission, always means that a legal regulation of certain social relationships is neither explicitly nor implicitly established in a particular legal act (part thereof) or any other legal acts, even though there is a need for the legal regulation of these social relationships and, in the case of a legislative omission, the said legal regulation must be established precisely in the particular legal act (particular part thereof), since this is required by a certain higher-ranking legal act, inter alia, the Constitution itself.

24.2. It should be emphasised in this context that, if a concrete law (part thereof) does not contain a special legal regulation designed for governing certain relationships, this does not necessarily mean that there is a legal gap, inter alia, a legislative omission, in this area, since these relationships can be regulated by means of general explicit norms or by means of implicitly established norms that supplement and extend the explicit legal regulation (the rulings of 25 January 2016 and 8 March 2018).

24.3. As mentioned before, under the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 3 of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties are allocated according to the valid results of not any last election to the Seimas (in the multi-member constituency, single-member constituencies, including the runoff voting in single-member constituencies), but, specifically, such last election to the Seimas that meets the condition requiring that the powers of the candidates elected in that election have not ceased or, where they ceased, a vacant place have been occupied without holding an election.

Therefore, Paragraph 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties sets out which results of elections to the Seimas were to be taken into account in allocating state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties in all cases, inter alia, in allocating appropriations for the second half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas took place.

24.4. It has also been mentioned that, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the protection of legitimate expectations, justice, and responsible governance, in regulating the relationships connected with the founding and activities of political parties, inter alia, in establishing the sources and ways of funding political parties, as well as the procedure for control over this funding, the legislature has wide discretion; the legislature may, inter alia, choose state budget funds as a source of funding political parties; once the legislature has chosen this source of funding political parties, the Constitution gives rise to the duty of the legislature to establish such a model of regulating the relationships connected with the sources and ways of funding political parties that ensures the proper, transparent, and public allocation of state budget funds to political parties according to the procedure established by means of a law, inter alia, according to the clear and objective criteria and (or) conditions and other essential elements (including time limits) of the allocation of state budget funds to political parties.

24.5. It should be noted that, as mentioned before, under the Constitution, in regulating the relationships connected with the sources and ways of funding political parties, the legislature has wide discretion. Therefore, in exercising this discretion, the legislature is not obliged to establish, inter alia, in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, which is impugned by the petitioner, such a specific way (model) of allocating state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties that is indicated by the petitioner, i.e. specifically, that the half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place requires a special legal regulation whereby state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties would be allocated according to the valid results of the previous last election and the new election to the Seimas and these appropriations would be calculated proportionally for the term of powers of the members of the Seimas elected in the respective election to the Seimas.

24.6. Therefore, it should be stated that the fact that the legislature did not establish, in the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, the said special legal regulation, governing the allocation of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties in a year in which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, cannot, under the Constitution, be treated as a legislative omission, since, as mentioned before, Paragraph 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties sets out which results of elections to the Seimas were to be taken into account in allocating state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties in all cases, inter alia, for the half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas took place, i.e. the valid results of the last election to the Seimas subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election.

24.7. Consequently, the conclusion should be drawn that Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties does not contain the legislative omission indicated by the petitioner.

25. It should be noted at the same time that, even though the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties does not contain the legislative omission indicated by the petitioner, this in itself does not refute the doubts of the petitioner regarding the compliance of the legal regulation laid down in this article with the constitutional principles specified by the petitioner, i.e. the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance.

26. It should be noted in this context that, as mentioned before, the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties lays down the particular criteria and conditions that were to be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activity, inter alia, to have the number of members required by law (Paragraph 1) and it must have received not less than 3 per cent of all the votes cast by voters in the last election to the Seimas subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election, and the results of such an election had to be valid (Paragraphs 2 and 3).

26.1. In addition, the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties established the procedure for determining the amount of state budget appropriations for funding the activities of a political party, the entity authorised to determine this amount – specifically, the Central Electoral Commission, as well as the time limits by which the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to transfer these appropriations – respectively, not later than by 15 April and 15 November of each year – to the account of state budget appropriations allocated to a political party (Paragraphs 4 and 5).

26.2. It has also been noted in this constitutional justice case that the legal regulation laid down in the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is interpreted in conjunction with one more condition, established in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, which had also to be satisfied by a political party in order to receive state budget appropriations for funding its activities, i.e. in cases where the Central Electoral Commission recognises that a political party has grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or has committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, state budget appropriations are not allocated, upon the decision of the Central Electoral Commission, to such a political party for a period of up to two years, counting from the date of the entry into force of the said decision.

26.3. It has also been mentioned that the criteria, conditions, as well as the procedure and time limits for the allocation of state budget appropriations, as set out in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, should be interpreted and applied in conjunction with the condition established in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of this law.

27. It should be noted in this constitutional justice case that, as mentioned before, under the Constitution:

the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law integrates various values consolidated, protected, and defended by the Constitution, as well as that the content of this constitutional principle reveals itself in various provisions of the Constitution; the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is especially broad and comprises a wide range of various interrelated imperatives; this principle must be followed in the process of both making and implementing law; the protection of legitimate expectations, legal certainty, legal security, and the constitutional principle of justice are inseparable elements of this principle;

the constitutional principles of the protection of legitimate expectations, legal certainty, and legal security imply the duty of the state, inter alia, to ensure the certainty and stability of a legal regulation, to protect the rights of persons, and to respect legitimate interests and legitimate expectations;

the constitutional principle of justice can be implemented by ensuring, inter alia, a certain balance of interests and by avoiding contingencies and arbitrariness and clashes of interests;

the principle of responsible governance, which is consolidated in the Constitution, implies that all state institutions and officials, inter alia, the Central Electoral Commission, are obliged to follow the Constitution and law while performing their functions and to properly implement the powers conferred on them by the Constitution and laws by acting in the interests of the people and the State of Lithuania.

27.1. It has also been mentioned that, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the protection of legitimate expectations, justice, and responsible governance, in regulating the relationships connected with the founding and activities of political parties, inter alia, in establishing the sources and ways of funding political parties, as well as the procedure for control over this funding, the legislature has wide discretion; the legislature, inter alia, may choose state budget funds as a source of funding the political parties whose candidates have received significant approval (trust) from voters in the respective elections.

27.2. It has been mentioned that, once the legislature chooses state budget funds as a source of funding political parties, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the protection of legitimate expectations, justice, and responsible governance:

the duty arises for the legislature to establish such a model of regulating the relationships connected with this chosen source of funding political parties that ensures the proper, transparent, and public allocation of state budget funds to political parties according to the procedure established by means of a law, inter alia, according to the clear and objective criteria and (or) conditions and other essential elements (including time limits) of the allocation of state budget funds to political parties, so as to ensure, among others, the transparency and objectivity of this process and provide the state institutions authorised to allocate state budget funds with no possibilities for the abuse of the powers conferred on them or for the allocation of state budget funds in an unfair and non-transparent manner, thus in violation of the principles of responsible governance and the rational management of state property;

the legislature may not establish such a legal regulation that would create the preconditions for receiving public (state) funds by political parties if they have committed such violations of laws that have been assessed as essential (gross) by the state institutions authorised to exercise control over the funding of a political campaign; the legislature also may not establish a legal regulation consolidating such conditions for allocating state budget funds to political parties that would disproportionately complicate their possibilities of implementing their political striving or would have a negative influence on the free development of the multi-party system.

28. It has been mentioned in this constitutional justice case that, under the impugned legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, which is interpreted in conjunction with the legal regulation laid down, inter alia, in Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 20 and Paragraph 5 of Article 23 of the same law, Items 5 and 6 of Paragraph 4 of Article 17 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 20 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, as well as in Article 1 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and Paragraph 6 of Article 2 (wording of 16 October 2012) of the Law on the Budget Structure:

the Central Electoral Commission was obliged to allocate six-month state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties to those political parties that satisfied the criteria established in Paragraph 1 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the conditions set out in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the same article and Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the said law; such a decision had to be adopted by the Central Electoral Commission not later than, respectively, by 15 April and 15 November of each year, which are the latest time limits (latest dates) for transferring the state budget appropriations allocated to political parties for, respectively, the first half and second half of a budget year (Paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties);

state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties were allocated, inter alia, according to the valid results of the last election to the Seimas (rerun election, by-election, or runoff voting) – specifically, such last election to the Seimas that satisfied the condition requiring that the powers of the candidates elected in that election must not have ceased yet or, where they had ceased, a vacant place must have been occupied without holding an election (Paragraph 3 of Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties);

given that the Seimas is elected for a four-year term, political parties having obtained the established percentage of all the votes cast by voters, inter alia, in the respective election to the Seimas had the right, for the period of the same duration, i.e. during four years, to receive state budget appropriations allocated in six-month appropriations, i.e. during eight half years in total; the allocation of these six-month state budget appropriations during a period of four years starts from the beginning of the budget year following the last regular election to the Seimas, i.e. from 1 January of the respective year, according to the valid results of the last election to the Seimas, subject to the condition that the powers of the candidates elected in that election have not ceased or, where they ceased, a vacant place have been occupied without holding an election.

29. In assessing the compliance of the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance, it should be noted that, under the impugned and related legal regulation, state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties, inter alia, for the half year (in this case, the eighth half year) during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place, were allocated according to the same criteria and conditions, applied together and established in Article 21 and Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, based on which the said appropriations were likewise allocated during the previous seven half years, i.e. six-month state budget appropriations over the period of the above-mentioned duration of four years (eight half years in total) were allocated according to the same conditions and procedure, because the condition established in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, requiring that a political party must not have grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, could normally be implemented only after 15 November (which, as mentioned before, was the latest time limit for the Central Electoral Commission to transfer the state budget appropriations allocated to political parties for the second half of the respective budget year).

It should also be noted in this context that, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 5 of Article 23 of the Law on Political Parties, each year but not later than by 15 March, political parties were (are) obliged to submit, to the Central Electoral Commission, an approved set of their financial reports for the previous calendar year and an annex containing a report on the use of state budget appropriations; under the legal regulation laid down in Items 5 and 6 of Paragraph 4 of Article 17 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 20 of the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, not later than (depending on the amount of revenue received during the political campaign, respectively) within 25 or 85 calendar days after the date of the publication of the final results of the election, a political party was (is) obliged to submit a report on political campaign funding to the Central Electoral Commission (i.e. at the latest, as mentioned before, respectively, in the period between 17 and 29 November and the period between 16 and 28 January of the following calendar year). In addition, a certain period of time was (is) required for the Central Electoral Commission to assess these submitted documents.

29.1. It should also be noted in the context of this constitutional justice case that, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 1 of Article 55 of the Constitution, the Seimas consists of representatives of the people – 141 members of the Seimas, who are elected for a four-year term. The fact that the members of the Seimas are elected for a four-year term is also established in Article 1 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas.

Thus, those political parties that participated in the last regular election to the Seimas and, in accordance with the Law on Political Parties, inter alia, the requirements laid down in Article 21 thereof, obtained the right to receive state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties and had (have) not grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or had (have) not committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign (Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties), had (have) the right (legitimate expectations) to receive these appropriations during a period of four years, i.e. over the period of the same duration as the term of office of the Seimas (as mentioned before, eight half years in total), according to the valid results of the last election to the Seimas (in the multi-member constituency, single-member constituencies, including the runoff voting in single-member constituencies), subject to the condition that the powers of the members of the Seimas elected in that election had (have) not ceased or, where they (had) ceased, a vacant place had (have) been occupied without holding an election; the allocation of these six-month state budget appropriations during a period of four years starts from the beginning of the budget year following the last regular election to the Seimas, i.e. from 1 January of the respective year.

29.2. Thus, the legal regulation laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties and the other related legal regulation indicated above do not deny the legitimate expectations of political parties to receive state budget appropriations for funding their activities during a period of four years, i.e. over the period of the same duration as the term of office of the Seimas; such a legal regulation ensures, inter alia, the certainty and stability of the legal regulation and respects the legitimate interests and legitimate expectations of political parties having obtained the established percentage of all the votes cast by voters to receive this funding during the above-mentioned period; at the same time, it does not deny the constitutional principle of justice, which is implemented by ensuring, inter alia, a certain balance between the interests of political parties and by avoiding clashes of their interests.

29.3. It should be noted that, if the legal regulation laid down in Article 21 and Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, as well as the other related legal regulation indicated above, were interpreted in a different way, inter alia, so that the state budget appropriations for the second half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place had (have) to be allocated according to the valid results of the last new election to the Seimas by 15 November (which, as mentioned before, was (is) the latest time limit for the Central Electoral Commission to transfer the state budget appropriations allocated to political parties for the second half of the respective budget year), the legislature would fail to comply with the prohibition, stemming from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, to establish such a legal regulation that would create the preconditions for receiving public (state) funds by political parties that have committed such violations of laws that have been assessed as essential (gross) by the state institutions authorised to exercise control over the funding of a political campaign.

30. Therefore, it should be held in this constitutional justice case that, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 35 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the protection of legitimate expectations, justice, and responsible governance, in implementing its wide discretion to regulate the activities of political parties, inter alia, in choosing the sources (ways) of their funding, and having chosen state budget funds as a source of funding political parties, the legislature established, in the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, the respective procedure, inter alia, the clear and objective criteria and conditions, as well as other essential elements (including time limits) of the allocation of state budget funds to political parties, which are applicable to the allocation of state budget appropriations to political parties for funding their activities during a period of four years, among others, to the allocation of state budget appropriations for the half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place; by means of such a legal regulation, the legislature created no preconditions for the state institution authorised to allocate state budget funds, i.e. in this case, the Central Electoral Commission, for the abuse of the powers conferred on it or for the allocation of state budget funds in an unfair and non-transparent manner, thus in violation of the principles of responsible governance and the rational management of state property; at the same time, the legislature did not deny the legitimate expectations of the political parties having obtained the established percentage of all the votes cast by voters in the respective regular election to the Seimas to receive the above-mentioned state budget appropriations during a period of four years, i.e. over the period of the same duration as the term of office of the Seimas (by allocating these appropriations, as mentioned before, on a six-month basis over eight half years in total, inter alia, for the half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place), with the payment of these state budget appropriations starting from the beginning of the budget year following the last regular election to the Seimas, i.e. from 1 January of the respective year.

31. It should also be noted in this context that, as mentioned before, under the Constitution, the legislature may not establish such a legal regulation that would create the preconditions for receiving public (state) funds by political parties if they have committed such violations of laws that have been assessed as essential (gross) by the state institutions authorised to exercise control over the funding of a political campaign. Therefore, one more condition, established by the legislature in Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, requiring that, in order to receive state budget appropriations, a political party must not have grossly violated the Law on Political Parties or committed a gross violation in relation to the funding of the political campaign, if this condition is interpreted and applied in conjunction with the criteria, conditions, and time limits set out in the impugned Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, cannot be assessed as a disproportionate measure, complicating the possibilities of implementing political strivings by political parties to the extent that the essence of their activities is denied, or as a measure having a negative influence on the free development of the multi-party system.

32. In view of the above-mentioned arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties is not in conflict with the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance, insofar as this article does not provide that, where the next regular election to the Seimas takes place in the particular period of a budget year, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the next regular election to the Seimas takes place are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated in proportion to the powers held by the members of the Seimas.

33. It should also be mentioned at the same time that, as it is clear from this constitutional justice case, based only on the systematic interpretation of the impugned legal regulation, laid down in Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties, inter alia, in Paragraphs 3–5 thereof, in conjunction with the other discussed legal regulation laid down, inter alia, in Article 1 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, Paragraph 6 of Article 2 (wording of 16 October 2012) of the Law on the Budget Structure, Paragraph 4 of Article 20 of the Law on Political Parties, and the Law on the Funding of Political Campaigns, it has been held that this impugned legal regulation is not in conflict with the Constitution, inter alia, the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, and responsible governance.

33.1. It has been mentioned that, on 15 November 2018, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending Articles 2 and 21 of the Law (No I-606) on Political Parties and, by Article 2 of this law, it amended Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties (wording 26 November 2013), which is impugned by the petitioner. It has also been mentioned that the legal regulation laid down in Article 21 (wording of 15 November 2018) of the Law on Political Parties has, in principle, remained unchanged.

33.2. In the light of this and having regard to the Constitution, inter alia, the constitutional imperative of legal clarity, the legislature should, by bringing in line the provisions of the Law on Political Parties and the other above-mentioned laws, provide for a clearer legal regulation governing the procedure (inter alia, time limits) for allocating state budget appropriations to political parties for funding their activities.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 531, 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:

To recognise that Article 21 of the Law on Political Parties (wording of 26 November 2013; Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2013, No 128-6513; No 133; No 135) was not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, insofar as this article does not provide that, where the next regular election to the Seimas takes place in the particular period of a budget year, the state budget appropriations for funding the activities of political parties for the half year during which the election to the Seimas takes place are allocated on the basis of the results of the previous election and the new election to the Seimas and that these appropriations are calculated in proportion to the powers held by the members of the Seimas.

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

Justices of the Constitutional Court:              Elvyra Baltutytė

                                                                                   Gintaras Goda

                                                                                   Vytautas Greičius

                                                                                   Danutė Jočienė

                                                                                   Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                   Daiva Petrylaitė

                                                                                   Janina Stripeikienė

                                                                                   Dainius Žalimas