5.2 Youth participation in representative democracy
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The minimum voting age in Lithuania is 18. Voting in elections for the parliament and the president, as well as participation in referendums is open to citizens of Lithuania. Voting in elections to the European Parliament is open to citizens of Lithuania, as well as citizens of other EU countries permanently residing in Lithuania, as long as they only vote in one country. Voting in local elections is limited to permanent residents of the respective municipalities, regardless of citizenship.
To be eligible for the parliament election, candidates must be at least 25 years old on the election day, not under allegiance to a foreign state and permanently reside in Lithuania. Persons serving or due to serve a sentence imposed by the court 65 days before the election are not eligible. Also, judges, citizens performing military service, and servicemen of professional military service and officials of statutory institutions and establishments may not stand for election. In addition, the Lithuanian law stipulates that a person who has been removed from office through impeachment may not be elected for four years after their removal.
To be eligible for presidential election, candidates must be at least 40 years old on the election day and reside in Lithuania for at least three years, in addition to satisfying the eligibility criteria for a member of the parliament.
To be eligible for municipality (mayor or council) election, candidates must be at least 20 years old on the election day and permanently reside in the respective municipality. Persons serving or due to serve a sentence imposed by the court 65 days before the election are not eligible. Also, residents performing military service, and servicemen of professional military service and officials of statutory institutions and establishments may not stand for election.
To be eligible for European Parliament election, candidates must be at least 21 years old on the election day, citizen of Lithuania or citizen of another EU country permanently residing in Lithuania. Candidates are not allowed to stand for election in more than one country. Persons serving or due to serve a sentence imposed by the court 65 days before the election are not eligible. Also, judges, citizens performing military service, and servicemen of professional military service and officials of statutory institutions and establishments may not stand for election.
There are no imminent plans to lower the voting age limit or alter age limits for candidates in presidential, parliamentary or municipality elections.
There are no special provisions for young people in the electoral law or rules. Voter lists or electoral rolls are compiled before each vote by the Central Electoral Commission. The electoral rolls should include every person eligible to vote, and include information about the person necessary to establish eligibility, such as name, surname, personal number, date of birth, passport or other ID number, as well as place of residence. The electoral roll of the Republic of Lithuania then forms the basis for electoral rolls of single-member constituencies and polling districts, that contain information necessary for individuals to vote. Electoral rolls are not public but voters may access information related to themselves in the electoral roll. Before the election, a poll card is sent to each voter, representing an invitation to vote. It may also be accessed and printed online. Citizens of Lithuania who do not reside in Lithuania but are entitled to vote, for example in the elections for the parliament, are entered in electoral rolls for the constituency in the territory where the parliament is situated. Voters who are aboard a ship and will not be able to return to Lithuania to vote, are entered on the electoral roll of the polling district on whose electoral roll the ship’s crew is entered. Voters who are in a penal institution and have not declared a place of residence, are entered on the electoral roll of the polling district where the penal institution is situated.
According to the data of the Central Electoral Commission, in 2019 May 12 President of the Republic elections 40 percent of voters were young persons of 18-29 of age. The youth voter turnout map in the most recent municipality and presidential elections can be found here.
The political activity of young people is growing every year. In 2012, only 18 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 participated in the elections, however 2019 presidential election, was attended by almost half (40 percent) of the young voters.
Only general turnout data is available from the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Lithuania. According to Žiliukaitė (2013), the data of the electoral behaviour of Lithuania’s population reveals that the cohorts of young people whose values were formed after the collapse of communism and during the country’s transition to democracy are characterized by the lowest turnout levels in the society. Longitudinal analysis shows that as young adults become older, their level of turnout in the elections remains considerably lower than that of the older generations when they were at the same age; moreover, the Lithuanian youth is characterized by exceptionally low level of interest in politics. The gaps of turnout and interest in politics between the youngest cohorts of voters (up to 29 year old) and the older voters are among the largest in Europe (see Žiliukaitė, 2013 for more detailed analysis).
The proportion of young people among members of political parties is rather low. However the data of 2020 Seimas (the Parliament) election show the trend towards younger age dynamics and gender equality. The average age of elected members was 45,8 years (when calculating the averages, the age of the members of the Seimas on the day of the first round of elections (11 October 2020) was taken into account). The youngest member of the 2020 Seimas had become a representative of the Freedom Party - 28-year-old Marius Matijošaitis. The youngest according to the average age of the members elected to the Seimas in the first round of elections is the Freedom Party. The average age of the eight members of this party's list elected to the Seimas is 37.2 years. For comparison the average age of the elected members of Parliament in 2012 was 52,8 years of age. The proportion of elected parliament members aged 25-35 in 2012 parliament was 9.00 percent compared to 12,77 percent in 2008. The average age of municipality council members was 51,1 years of age. The average age of the elected members of Parliament in 2016 was 51,5 years of age. The youngest person among the elected Parliament members in 2012 was the Labour Party's representative Victor Fiodorovas (male) who was 25 years old when elected in 2012. The second youngest member of parliament was the representative of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party Arunas Dudėnas (male) who was 29 year old in 2012. The third youngest politician elected in 2012 Seimas the representative of the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrat Agne Bilotaitė (female) who was 30 years old in 2012. The youngest MPs elected in 2016 were two 26 year-old members of Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union: Rūta Miliūtė (female) and Virginijus Sinkevičius (male).
More information on youth participation can be found in the study on youth participation published in 2020.