- July 12, 2012
The Central Electoral Commission changed the boundaries of electoral districts
The Central Electoral Commission of Lithuania (Vyriausioji rinkimų komisija – VRK) adjusted the boundaries of the constituencies in Vilnius County, which is unfavorable to the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (EAPL). According to the EAPL, the changes “will weaken the strength of Polish votes.”
On Tuesday (July 9), during the meeting of VRK, the boundaries of some constituencies in Vilnius (and Vilnius County), Kaunas and Kelmė were changed. A part of Fabijoniškės is now attached to the electoral district of Szeszkine, and a part of Justiniškės is attached to Karoliniškės. Also, Old Trakai was moved from the Wilno-Trotsky constituency to the electoral district of Trakai-Elektrėnai, and a part of Vilnius-Širvintos electoral district was moved to Molėtų-Švenčionys constituency. The Commission justified its decision by demographic changes – in some districts a number of voters has increased significantly, while in others – it has dropped.
“The Central Electoral Commission adopted a very unfavorable decision to the Polish minority. In one of the municipal districts of Vilnius, which (…) has been attached to the Molėtų district, Poles represent 80% of the society. After the implementation of the current changes, the Poles’ voice will be virtually inaudible, because in the Molėtų region they represent only 6% of the citizens.” – said Waldemar Tomaszewski, the leader of the EAPL, in his interview for PAP.
According to the Lithuanian law, a single-member constituency should be inhabited by no less 30.000 and no more than 44.000 voters. The EAPL notes that Kaunas region is divided into eight districts with a minimum number of voters (about 30.000); meanwhile, in Vilnius and Vilnius County, where the EAPL has won for a number of years, all the constituencies are large and count up to 45.000 people. The EAPL filed a proposal to repeal one of the constituencies of Kaunas and create a new district in Vilnius.
VRK recognized this proposal as worth considering, but the Commission will return to the consideration of it only after the parliamentary elections, because the implementation of this idea would be a radical change of the current division of constituencies. Inga Milašiūtė from VRK told the newspaper “Kauno Diena” that the Commission intends to refer the proposal of radical changes in the division of constituencies to the Seimas leadership after the elections.
VRK also rejected the requests of residents of Salininkai, complaining about the lack of attention paid to their problems by the current MEP elected in their single-member district; he was asked to join Salininkai back to one of the electoral districts of Vilnius (Salininkai were annexed to the Vilnius-Trotsky constituency in 2008).
Sikorski: these problems do not arise from any prejudices
Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs was asked to evaluate VRK’s new decision. According to Polish News Agency (PAP), Sikorski said that this case is now monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
“In reality, it is an issue protested on by one political party in Lithuania. I hope that everyone realizes once again that the problems between Poland and Lithuania do not arise from any prejudices of the Polish side, but of what is or what isn’t done by the Lithuanian side.” – said the Polish minister.
Tłumaczenie Ewelina Zarembska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Zarembska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.