“This is a democracy test for Lithuania. If Lithuania wants to be a modern democracy it has to accept the decision by its citizens. They are the sovereign, they must not be hold to mockery. That is why overall, referenda must be binding, fair and transparent”, demands Gerald Häfner, who is the chairperson of Democracy International, a non-governmental organisation that monitors direct democracy in the nation states, in Europe and in the world.
The referendum held in Lithuania in October 2012 was a referendum triggered by a minority of deputies of the Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament. In any other circumstances the Lithuanian constitution foresees binding referenda, which Democracy International demands to be the standard. Yet in the case of the minority referendum the outcome is non-binding.
In October 2012 people were asked whether a new power plant was supposed to be built by a US-Japanese joint venture, at the site of the closed Ignalina plant in the East of Lithuania, bordering Belarus and Latvia. Ignalia was shut down on 31 December 2009 in accordance with Lithuania's accession agreement to join the EU.
“These days there are voices in Lithuania that demand to hold again a referendum on the issue. There is no reason for asking Lithuania’s people over and over again as they have already spoken. But if the question is put to the citizens again, then it must be clear that the vote must be balanced and fair, providing all parties with the same opportunities to be informed about the issues at stake”, so Gerald Häfner.
Press contact: Cora Pfafferott, Tel.: +49 2203 102 14 75 (office), Tel.: +49 176 954 373 79
Read the press release in Lithuanian here