Vote in the Referendum


Registration Closes April 26

Voting in the referendum on May 12 is an important issue recently addressed by various politicians and journalists in the Lithuanian press. Last December, a government survey showed that about 60% of voters in Lithuania plan to vote in the upcoming referendum on dual citizenship on May 12. An interesting fact also arose: 24% of those polled were hearing about the referendum for the first time.

There are several myths about the referendum that should be dispelled. Dual citizenship does not provide “unearned” advantages for Lithuanians abroad in the form of pensions or health benefits. Social services do not depend on citizenship, but on residency, and old age pensions depend on the length of time worked in the country, on income earned and taxes paid.

Social insurance payments are also based on residence – Lithuanians and foreigners living in Lithuania who wish to receive health and other social services must contribute premiums. This is true in all European Union (EU) member countries. If the referendum succeeds, citizens abroad will have the right to vote in Lithuanian elections, but will also be subject to conscription.

The retention of citizenship for emigrants is also important in counteracting negative demographics – Lithuania’s declining population. Lithuania is in a minority of EU nations, together with Austria, Estonia, The Netherlands and Slovakia, where dual citizenship is not yet allowed. Those who do allow emigrants to keep their citizenship are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

In voting for the constitutional change allowing retention of citizenship, Lithuanians would also be able to remain citizens of other countries which conform to the European and Transatlantic integration criteria, i.e. members of the European Economic Area, NATO, and the European Economic Development Council (EEDC), with a current membership of 47 countries. Lithuanian citizenship would not be available for those living in Russia and Belarus.

Given the current geopolitical situation, Lithuania does not have the luxury of rejecting its emigrants, who wish to maintain active ties with their homeland. The more citizens Lithuania has throughout the world and the more they are heard, the stronger and safer Lithuania will be. For example, Lithuanians in the US have more opportunities to lobby American politicians on key issues, but if they do not have Lithuanian citizenship, they will have less motivation to defend Lithuanian interests, to return to their homeland or to work toward cultural retention.

Lithuania is losing 1000 of its citizens every year, due to emigration.

Lithuanians in various countries have spoken out about disadvantages encountered when they choose to retain their Lithuanian citizenship instead of obtaining that of their country of residence. They are often ineligible for ordinary rights in the country where they live. They cannot vote or run for political office, where they could potentially represent Lithuanian interests.  They have limited access to health care, certain financial services such as business loans, jobs in the public service, even teaching positions. 

Emigrants speak of emotional ties to Lithuania, and their hope that retaining Lithuanian citizenship would ensure that their children born abroad would develop an interest in their parents’ homeland.  Living in the diaspora, those children are less likely to develop ties with it.

Parliamentarian Dalia Asanavičiūtė has noted that at meetings with voters, at least 60% indicate that they have close relatives who have emigrated, which means that the referendum decision to change the constitution affects not only those who live abroad, but is important for the future and well-being of Lithuania itself. A discussion on the effect of losing touch with Lithuania is available at:

Surveys show that 75% of Lithuanians abroad are involved in promoting Lithuania, and two-thirds contribute to Lithuania’s well-being and send financial support to their relatives there.

If the referendum fails again, as it did in 2019 due to lack of voter participation, there will not be a third chance. With the geopolitical and economic changes of the past four years, the question of dual citizenship has slipped further down the list of priorities both for the government and the public. For the referendum to be successful, Lithuania must show the same social and political will it had in the 1992 vote for its Constitution and in 2003 for membership in the European Union. Its failure will negatively affect the hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians abroad, and their several million relatives in Lithuania, destroying the right of current and future generations to be proud citizens of their homeland.

Minister of Economics and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė reminds citizens at home and abroad that Lithuania must be keen to increase its population so that the country may have a greater influence, more connections and a louder voice in the world community. This can only be useful politically, economically and for its own security. In today’s context, Lithuanians have been very in the forefront of keeping the Ukrainian issue alive. Lithuanians throughout the world are the global voice of Lithuanian unity and national interests. Lithuania is too small a country to reject its citizens, to disappoint them or to lose them.

Registration for voting in the diaspora closes on April 26, 2024. Information is available at