A Historical Moment for the Lithuanian Diaspora

October 16, 2020

The October 11 elections will enter the history of the Lithuanian diaspora and Lithuania. For the first time, the diaspora had elected its “own” representative in the Parliament of Lithuania. Alongside Italy, France, and Moldova, the country became the fifth state in the world where it is possible.

By establishing a single-member constituency for global Lithuanians, Lithuania became the first in the North-Eastern region of Europe to have a direct representative of Lithuanian citizens living abroad in its Parliament. The opportunity evoked by the newly created constituency became a phenomenon of civic activism. Ten candidates competed for the diaspora’s votes, the global voters elected Aušrinė Armonaitė, 31-year-old leader of liberal Freedom Party.

A dedicated constituency of global Lithuanians came into being after global Lithuanians’ overwhelming activity in the 2019 referendum for amendment of the constitutional clause on citizenship by birthright. Even though the referendum was short of votes, the record number of registered voters— more than 60,000 overseas voters— became a strong argument for forming a separate constituency for the diaspora to have a dedicated parliamentarian.

In this year’s elections, global Lithuanians reached one more record. As compared to the last Parliament elections, twice as many overseas voters exercised their constitutional right and made the constituency the largest and the most active in Lithuania. The civic initiative, Mūsų Metas DABAR (Our time is NOW), run by a diverse team of global Lithuanians, played a major role in this electoral engagement wave. It united the major umbrella organizations of Lithuanians abroad and more than 70 volunteers from 30 countries for a coordinated campaign in social networks, fundraising, organization of candidate debates as well as public relations.

Source: Lithuaniatribune.com