Social Democrats drop referendum on dual citizenship idea

DELFI / Orestas Gurevičius

“We think the proposal is unrealistic and the referendum would probably fail,” Seimas Vice-Speaker Gediminas Kirkilas of the Social Democrats told BNS on Thursday.

The party’s council decided to make the proposal last week, but Kirkilas says the decision was made by a narrow majority.

MP Algirdas Sysas says that after consulting with other parties, the Social Democrats realized that the decision on holding a referendum would require an extraordinary Seimas session, which is not possible.

The Social Democratic leader, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said on Thursday that the idea of holding a referendum on dual citizenship drew criticism from Lithuanian expatriate communities.

“As a party, we had proposed the idea a few weeks ago to organize the referendum on dual citizenship. However, we received numerous letters and proposals from Lithuanians living abroad who said that the referendum should never take place, because if it failed, it would prevent the country from adopting other legal acts. I think it is better to settle this with laws, not with a referendum,” Butkevičius told journalists.

Experts of constitutional law maintain that establishing dual citizenship by law for a broader circle of individuals may be impossible.

Supporters of the proposal to liberalize the dual citizenship granting scheme maintain that dual citizenship is necessary to help expatriates maintain contacts with Lithuania. Meanwhile, critics maintain that citizens can only be loyal to one country. They also say that if Lithuania’s Russian-speaking population were to seek Russian citizenship, it would give Moscow a leverage to influence Lithuania’s domestic affairs.

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