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Content updated: 23-10-2015 11:36

The legal regulation of forming single-member constituencies ruled unconstitutional

20-10-2015

By its ruling adopted today, the Constitutional Court recognised that the provision “The number of voters in constituencies must be from 0.8 to 1.2 of the average number of voters in all single-member constituencies” of Article 9 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, insofar as it allows the number of voters in each single-member constituency to differ from the national average by 20 percent is in conflict with Constitution.

The Constitutional Court noted that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 55 of the Constitution, members of the Seimas must be elected, among other things, on the basis of equal suffrage, which means that, in the course of organising and conducting elections, all voters must be treated equally, the vote of each voter has an equal value with regard to votes of any other voters in establishing the results of voting. Having opted for such an electoral system where part of members of parliament are elected in single-member constituencies, under the Constitution, the legislature must ensure that the number of voters in such constituencies does not have such differences from the national average which could create preconditions for distorting the equal value of voters’ votes in establishing the results of voting, since, the bigger difference in the number of voters among separate constituencies, the bigger possible distortion of the value of voters’ votes in establishing the results of voting. The Constitutional Court also noted that, under the Constitution, there is no requirement for completely the same number of voters in all constituencies. The number of voters is subject to change (increase or decrease) due to various objective reasons, for example, migration or other demographic factors. In addition, under the Constitution, certain differences in the number of voters among constituencies may be allowed in an attempt to maintain a balance among various constitutional values, for example, to implement the requirements arising from generally recognised democratic principles of elections (for instance, a fair competition between candidates, the transparency of the electoral process): constituencies must satisfy the principle of connectivity, they must be compact, and their boundaries must be clear and easy-to-understand. However, there is no constitutional justification for such differences of the number of voters which could create preconditions for distorting the equal value of voters’ votes in establishing the results of voting and for denying the essence of equal suffrage as such.