During a meeting with the Chair of Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission Zenonas Vaigauskas, Lithuanian-American Dr. Darius Udrys and Lithuanian-Australian MEP Antanas Guoga were informed that they are ineligible to stand as candidates for election to Lithuania’s Seimas due to the fact that both hold a second passport.
Antanas Guoga
© DELFI / Orestas Gurevičius

“The Electoral Commission bases its position on a twenty-year-old ruling by Lithuania’s Constitutional Court that hasn’t been reviewed since Lithuania joined the European Union and NATO. Thousands of Lithuanians are emigrating and bearing children abroad. In light of all the talk about a “Global Lithuania” and bringing Lithuanians back, this ruling should be reviewed,” says Udrys, the son of Lithuanian war refugees who is both Lithuanian and American by birth. He was born in the United States and moved to Lithuania five years ago. Lithuanian law permits such individuals to hold more than one citizenship.

According to Vaigauskas, to be registered for Seimas elections, candidates must submit proof that they have given up all other citizenships.

“It would be an honor for me to stand for election and serve Lithuania. My great grandfather was a member of Lithuania’s Constituent Assembly and First Seimas. My grandparents left Lithuania due to Soviet terror. If not for that, I would have most likely been born in a free and prosperous Lithuania,” notes Udrys.

Darius Udrys
Darius Udrys
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

His great grandfather Juozapas Akmenskis was a member of Lithuania’s Constituent Assembly and First Seimas from 1920-23.

In 1998, Lithuania’s Constitutional Court ruled that Article 56 of Lithuania’s Constitution, which states that candidates must not be “bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state”, means candidates cannot be citizens of other countries.

In his statement, MEP Antanas Guoga, who holds Australian and Lithuanian citizenship and was planning to challenge Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius in Vilkaviškis during next year’s Seimas elections, notes that the decision deprives citizens who are in full compliance with citizenship law of their civil rights.

“We will not build a greater Lithuania and we will not bring Lithuanians back from around the world if we don’t adapt our legal system to today’s realities,” says the MEP. “Dual citizenship is no obstacle to representing Lithuania in the European Parliament...to being a minister or even prime minister. Why should it be an obstacle to being a member of the Seimas?”

Guoga calls on the Speaker of the Seimas to initiate the necessary changes to make it possible for dual citizens like him to stand in next year’s elections.

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