- November 30, 2015
Two new electoral districts to be created in Vilnius
Election to the Seimas is going to take place in autumn 2016.
During its session, the Central Electoral Commission presented its project of change of single-member constituencies’ boundaries for the Seimas election 2016 for public consultations. There are two new constituencies to be created in Vilnius. Voters can express their opinion or present their own ideas concerning the issue till 15th December by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-“The aim of the project is to diminish the difference in the number of voters in each constituency.” – said the Deputy Speaker Jarosław Narkiewicz from the Electoral Action of the Poles in Lithuania. –“The problem was often discussed among the Poles. The boundaries of the constituencies were drawn in such a way that differences in the number of voters sometimes reached 50%. For example, there were 25 000 voters in the City of Vilnius and 50 000 voters in the Vilnius region. The value of one mandate was not equal to the value of the other one and the representatives of the OSCE suggested that we tackle the situation”.
The current boundaries were deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court due to differences in the number of voters in particular constituencies. 13 of 71 constituencies do not fulfil the legal requirements because the number of voters is either above the upper limit or is much lower than the lower limit. In 8 constituencies there are too many voters: in the constituency Kauno kaimiškoji apygarda (Kaunas – commune) the number of them reaches even 25.1%, in Širvintų-Vilniaus it is 23.9%, in the Karoliniškių constituency in Vilnius it is 23%. In most of the constituencies in Kaunas and Šiauliai and in villages, the number of voters barely reaches the minimal threshold.
The new project was launched in accordance with the recommendations of the Court which state that the deviation in the number of voters in constituencies should not be bigger than 10% of difference in standard average number of voters (ratio: 0.9 to 1.1). Before that, the law allowed the difference to grow to 20% when in fact it was much higher.
-“I am pleased that the disproportion in the number of voters is going to be diminished.” – Narkiewicz said. – “For example, two new constituencies are going to be created in Vilnius, which means that Vilnius will gain two new representatives. The number of representatives is going to decrease in Kaunas and Šiauliai.
The boundaries of constituencies were drawn before the Seimas election in 1992 to ensure that each representative speaks for more or less equal number of their voters. Due to a natural change in the number of inhabitants and migration of voters, their number in each constituency started to differ. That is why the boundaries have to be redrawn.
-“The changes in the number of voters in constituencies can be caused by various factors: migration, or leaving the country” – explains Narkiewicz. – “The Constitutional Court accepted the difference of 10% in each single-member district. On the basis of their ruling, the amendment to the Election Act and the project of the boundaries revision were accepted.”
According to the project, two new constituencies, Verkių and Panerių, are going to be created in Vilnius in place of the current 10. In Kaunas, the number of constituencies is going to fall from 8 to 7 due to merging two constituencies into one, Centro-Žaliakalnio. The Rokiškio district is going to be replaced by Sėlos, and Anykščių-Kupiškio by Anykščių-Panevėžio. Another districts scheduled for replacement are Ignalinos-Švenčionių and Molėtų-Švenčionių. They are going to be merged into one district, Nalšios. After incorporating the part of the Molėtai region, the Molėtų-Širvintų apygarda district is going to replace the Širvintų constituency. In Samogitia, Kuršo and Pietų Žemaitijos districts are going to be created.
According to the Director of the Central Electoral Commission Zenonas Vaigauskas, about 19% of voters will have to change their constituency. –“After the change of boundaries 19% of citizens will find themselves in a new constituency. Even our geographers suggest we restore the ethnographical names for the constituencies, like Kuršo or Nalšios” – he said.
-“We are going to carry on regardless of the changes in boundaries. They are often made to make representing the Poles in the Seimas more difficult. I think that the voters are guided mostly by the feeling of trust while voting. We just have to work hard and diligently.”
According to Vaigauskas, the final approval of the new boundaries is scheduled for the second half of December 2015.
Translated by Natalia Skowronek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.