In the case of first-past-the-post voting
It has become a bad tradition that before almost every parliamentary elections they try to fiddle with the first-past-the-post constituencies boarders. Such a tactic is reprehensible as it is harmful for the democracy rules and it diminishes the voters’ trust to the political parties and for the whole electoral system in our country.
The demographic changes in Lithuania has become a pretext for the Central Electoral Commission officers to increase the constituency size rate admitting the minimal and the maximal number of the voters in particular constituencies, 0,8% and 1,2% respectively. The increase of the bottom and upper rate by the Lithuanian Seimus in 2004 led to even bigger disproportion in the number of the voters in individual constituencies. It is clearly visible on the examples of Vilnius and Kaunas.
All constituencies in the capital have over 40 000 voters and in Kaunas, apart from two, are in the limits of 30 000. Such disproportions cause significant diversity in the power of votes in individual constituencies. This creates a situation in which one member of Parliament can be chosen by 30 000 of potential voters, the other can be chosen by 45 000. We claim that such
a solution is against the rules of Democracy as it puts both the candidates and the voters in unequal situation in parliamentary elections.
The EAPL meeting demands that you restore the size rates of the first-past-the-post constituencies from the period until 2004. The bottom rate to 0,9% and the upper rate to 1,1%. Such a solution would give equal opportunities of voters in the individual constituencies and would equal the candidates’ chances of winning the elections.
We also claim that the demographic situation in Vilnius and Kaunas allows for the increase if the first-past-the-post constituencies in the capital from 10 to 11 and for the reduction in Kaunas from 8 to 7. That would be a more logical and just solution in opposition to the idea of the Central Electoral Commission to issue a fake ‘deportation’ of the capital city voters to the regions surrounding Vilnius. We claim that the idea of Central Electoral Commission to attach Vilnius electoral districts Vilnius with the constituencies of the Vilnius, Sirvintus, Trakai,Elektrėnai, Šalčininkai has no social justification and it separates the traditional administrative, parish, and local bonds. And in a political sense it will reinforce inequalities in the individual local governments.
Vilnius 28. 04. 2012
To the Government of The Republic of Lithuania about political discrimination
We turn to the Government of The Republic of Lithuania to cease discriminating the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania party in the process of delegating Lithuanian representatives to the Committee of the Regions of the UE after local election in 2011. The representatives of the local party EAPL were omitted in the process of delegation despite fulfilling formal requirements.
The activities of the Lithuanian authorities, because of which the EAPL did not get any seat in the Committee of the Regions, are the violation of the democratic standards. The procedure and the formal mode of selecting Lithuanian delegation, which is contradictory to the spirit of autonomy and representation the regions by the local governments in Europe, and which is promoted by the EU, was applied to the former local elections in 2007. The procedure of selecting Lithuanian delegation, legislated by the Lithuanian Minister of Home affairs, excluded the possibility of representing all citizens through their regional and local representatives’ participation in the Committee of the Regions. Too high threshold was established then 5,56% though both in the election to the Lithuanian Seimas and the European Parliament it is 5%. This facts force us to ask the question why such a high threshold was needed in the case of selecting the delegation to the Committee of the Regions, one of the consultative institutions of the EU. It all indicates that all resources were used to eliminate one of the parties, namely, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL), which in local elections in 2007 gained 5,42% of votes in the whole country and won with a great majority in one of the regions. Unthinkable is also that in spite of the fact that the criteria of the political, geographic and territorial balance should decide on the selection of the representatives to the Committee of the Regions (so that every region could be represented.) The government of the Lithuanian Republic uses, in fact, the countrywide criterion.
This time after local election in Lithuania in 2011, the EAPL managed to exceed the threshold. Unfortunately, the same situation happened again. In the process of the representatives delegation to the Committee of the Regions the EAPL was omitted again despite fulfilling the formal requirements.
The regulations concerning the delegation of the Lithuanian representatives to the Committee of the Regions states that the seats are distributed between the parties that gained the most of the votes but no less than the threshold. After the last local elections in Lithuania in 2011 the threshold was 5,56% (64 589) of all votes. The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania went to the elections in coalition. The coalition of the EAPL and Waldemar Tomaszewski’s Russian Alliance Block. According to the data from the Central Election Committee the whole coalition gained 6,41% (74 548) of votes. The EAPL in coalition gained 5,97% (69 401) and, additionally 0,26% (1691) starting on their own. Despite the fact that the whole coalition result and the result of the EAPL alone, which was a part of the whole coalition result, exceeds the minimum required by law, the whole coalition and the EAPL was not considered in choosing the people to Lithuanian delegation in the Committee of the Regions. The seats were admitted to the parties that exceeded the threshold apart from the EAPL and their coalition. In this way the party, which gained the first place in the last elections in the biggest Lithuanian region— the Vilnius region, in which lives one third of all citizens— was again deprived of the representation. Despite winning they have no representative in the Committee of the Regions. These are the actions that openly discriminate one of the parties, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, clearly on political grounds and as a result restricting the essence of the representational democracy.
It allows us to assume that it’s a deliberate and intentional operation of the present Lithuanian government not to allow the opposition local party to represent its voters in the Committee of the Regions. Such a situation in Lithuania is impermissible as it violates the foundations of European democracy.
We appeal to the government of the Lithuanian Republic to cease the actions discriminating the EAPL. We demand that you investigate this case and admit the EAPL representatives the seats in the Lithuanian delegation in the Committee of the Regions. By doing this the Committee of the Regions would serve moving the EU closer to the citizens so that the integrated in its diversity Europe’ draw extensively on its territorial, cultural and language diversity, which constitutes their power and wealth. We demand fair representation of Lithuanian regions in the Committee of the Regions in the European Union.
Vilnius 28. 04. 2012
Translated by Adam Gałązka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.