Lithuanian referendum on dual citizenship: a divisive issue

On 12 May, Lithuanians will vote to change their constitution to allow dual citizenship. Article 12(2) of the country’s 1992 Constitution stipulates a prohibition of dual nationality, which has been in place since independence.

The draft constitutional law that would accompany the amendment of article 12(2) would limit dual citizenship to countries of the European Union, European Economic Area, NATO and the OECD. It would still prohibit dual citizenship with countries that are members of organisations based around the former Soviet Union, including the Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Eurasian Economic Union.

The issue of dual citizenship in Lithuania is divisive. On the one hand, dual citizenship could offer protection to the growing number of Lithuanian emigres, who lose their citizenship upon naturalisation abroad. On the other hand, dual citizenship may raise issues of loyalty related to the Russian-speakers in the country.

Over the past few years, there have been several motions to amend or delete article 12(2) from the Constitution, but none of them has been put forward to popular vote. The referendum will take place alongside the first round of presidential elections in the country.

For further information on the present and past citizenship policy of Lithuania, consult our country profile pages.