Short for LT by Abbreviationfinder, the Republic of Lithuania is a democracy with the so-called semi-presidential system, which is a mixture of presidential rule and parliamentarism. The president has certain powers, including foreign policy. Partying is unstable with many divisions and new formations.
Following Lithuania’s declaration of independence in 1990, it took two years of political strife and compromise before a new constitution could be enacted and approved in a 1992 referendum.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Lithuania for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The President (Head of State) is elected directly by the people for a five-year term and can sit for a maximum of two terms. The President can veto laws passed by Parliament. In order to lift the president’s veto, Parliament must gather support from three-quarters of its members. With the approval of Parliament, the President appoints the country’s prime minister (head of government), commander-in-chief and head of the security forces. The president must not belong to any political party.
The executive power lies mainly with the government. The President approves the Ministers proposed by the Prime Minister, whose government programs must be approved by Parliament.
The Legislative Parliament (seimas) has 141 members elected in general elections for a four-year term. 70 of the members are appointed by proportional elections by party lists and 71 by majority elections in one-man constituencies. In the proportional elections, parties must receive at least five percent of the vote in order to take the seat. Seven percentages apply to party coalitions.
In connection with independence, all residents, regardless of their ethnic or geographical origin, were granted the right to seek citizenship on equal terms. Thus no group was voted without voting rights. The voting age is 18 years. Important issues are decided by referendum if at least 300,000 of the voters request it.
Administration and the judiciary
Lithuania is strongly centralized. Administratively, the country is divided into 10 regional areas (former counties) and 60 municipalities, of which 7 are counted as cities. However, the municipalities lack the right to tax and are instead allocated funds from the state budget. The city council and mayor are elected in direct elections. Below the municipal level, 546 so-called seniors (seniūnija) sort.
The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, appellate courts, district courts, local administrative courts and a special court of commercial law. In addition, there is a constitutional court with the task of ensuring that the country’s laws do not contravene the constitution. The President appoints and Parliament approves the judgments of the Supreme Court and some of the judgments of the Constitutional Court.
In the political parties, individuals often play a larger role than ideologies. This has led to a number of party splits and new formations over the years. Popular dissatisfaction with difficult living conditions, especially in rural areas, has led many voters to vote in the elections, and several populist parties have emerged. Voter turnout is usually low. Political contempt is strong, not least because of the widespread corruption. 2008–2012 was the first time since the independence of a government that a full term of office was suspended.
On important foreign and security policy issues, such as membership of the EU and NATO’s defense alliance 2004, the parties have largely agreed. Economic policy also differs less between right and left parties than is usual in Western Europe. However, the right is more nationalist and Russia-critical than the left, which has been accused of being the heirs of Soviet political leadership.
Lithuania’s Social Democratic Party (Lietuvos Socialdemokratų partija, LSDP) was formed in 2001 through a merger of the original Social Democrats and the Lithuanian Democratic Workers Party (LDDP). The Social Democrats were founded in 1896 and recreated in 1989, while the LDDP was formed in 1990 as a successor to the Lithuanian Communist Party. The LDDP has long dominated the left bloc with former Communist leader Algirdas Brazauskas in the lead. He later also became LSDP’s leader. After a long time in office, LSDP lost voter support and lost the election in 2008. However, the party came back and won the election in 2012 under the leadership of Algirdas Butkevičius, who became prime minister in a four-party government (see below). The 2016 election was a setback for LSDP, which lost more than half of its mandates. Despite this, LSDP was part of the coalition government that took office after the elections (see below).
The largest bourgeois party is the Conservative and Nationalist Confederation. It has its roots in the national front Sąjūdis (see Modern History), whose leadership figure Vytautas Landsbergis was also the party’s leader for many years. In 2003 he was succeeded by Andrius Kubilius. In 2008, Lithuanian Christian Democrats joined what is now known as the Confederation of Finland-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (Tėvynės sąjunga – Lietuvos krikščionysokratai). From 2008, the party led the government but lost the elections in 2012. In the 2016 election, the Confederation of Fosterlands became the second largest party and largest opposition party.
The Middle Lithuanian Alliance of Peasants and Greens (Lietuvos valstiečių ir žaliųjų sąjunga, LVŽS) got its name in 2008, but it has a long history as a Lithuanian peasant party. Independent Lithuania’s first prime minister, Kazimira Prunskienė, was for a long time the leader of the party under various party names. In the 2016 election, LVŽS went ahead strongly, from 1 seat in the 2012 election to 54 seats, and became the largest in the saimas. The party succeeded in amassing the popular dissatisfaction with the inability of previous government parties to fulfill promises of better living conditions (see further Current policy). After the election, LVŽS formed a coalition government with the Social Democrats.
The Liberal Movement (Liberalų Sąjūdis) was formed in 2006 through an outbreak of the Liberal Center Union (Liberalų ir centro sąjunga). The outbreak took place in protest of the quirky Vilnius mayor Artūras Zuokas. In the 2016 election, the Liberal movement became the third largest party with 14 seats, an increase of 4 seats compared to the 2012 election.
The election campaign for Poles in Lithuania (Akcja Wyborcza Polaków na Litwie / Lietuvos lenkų rinkimų akcija, LLRA) was formed in 1994 and represents the interests of the Polish minority. The party refers to itself as Christian Democratic but has usually supported the left-wing parties in Parliament. After a successful election in 2012, the LLRA joined the government, but it ended in opposition after the 2016 election.
The disputed Rolandas Paksas (see Modern History) formed in 2002 the Liberal Democratic Party, which four years later changed its name to Order and Justice (Tvarka ir teisingumas). The party views itself as left-wing, but has been described as a right-wing populist with a strong nationalist character, previously with some Nazi-inspired elements. 2012–2016 included Order and Justice in the government.
The Workers’ Party (Darbo Partija, DP) was formed in 2003 by the Russian-born entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Viktor Uspaskitj. The DP is regarded as left-wing populist and its social policy has been supported by pensioners, peasants and other groups that have been disadvantaged financially. DP lost influence after corruption scandals but came back strongly in the 2012 elections and took a seat in the coalition government that was formed afterwards. However, the 2016 election became a major defeat for DP, which fell from 29 to 2 seats, mainly because LVŽS took many of the dissatisfaction votes.
Three parties each received 1 mandate in the 2016 election: Lithuania’s Green Party (Lietuvos Žaliųjų Partija), Lithuanian List (Lietuvos Sąrašas) and Lithuania’s Center Party (Lietuvos Centro Partija).