Land sale ban referendum fails in Lithuania due to record-low turnout

referendum on a ban of sale of agricultural land to foreigners and legal entities
DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

At 7 p.m., one hour till the closure of polling stations, only 10.92 percent of eligible voters had voted and 3.17 percent cast their votes during early voting.

“At 7 p.m., 356,000 people had voted,” Zenonas Vaigauskas, chairman of the election panel, told journalists.

There are over 2.532 million people eligible to vote in Lithuania.

The referendum on constitutional amendments was held after its initiative group collected 300,000 signatures in favour.

In Lithuania, for a referendum to be deemed valid, at least 50 percent of voters have to vote.

Voters were asked to express their approval or disapproval of the proposed ban to sell agricultural land to foreigners and legal entities. They were also asked to lower the required number of signatures to hold a referendum to 100,000 signatures from existing 300,000.

Critics say, however, such a ban would breach Lithuania’s EU commitments.

The biggest turnout was on Sunday recorded in Pakruojis district, northern Lithuania, where 15 percent had voted at 7 p.m. And residents of Visaginas, eastern Lithuania, were the least active, as only around 6 percent had voted there.

A below-average turnout was recorded in Lithuania’s biggest cities. In Vilnius, the turnout was 9 percent, 10 percent in Klaipėda and 11 percent in Kaunas.

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