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Lithuania: Parliament To Vote On Change In Referendum Rules

Vilnius, 25 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Lithuania's parliament has given initial approval to an amendment to the country's referendum law that would make it easier to secure a "yes" vote in an upcoming referendum on European Union membership. The parliament approved the change yesterday on first reading and is expected to cast a final vote today.

The current law requires a simple majority of registered voters to participate in the referendum. It also requires one-third of all registered voters to vote in favor, meaning a low turnout could cause the referendum to fail.

The amendment maintains the "50 percent plus one" rule on voter participation. But it requires a "yes" vote from only a simple majority of those casting ballots to make the referendum valid.

The head of Lithuania's Parliamentary Committee for European Affairs, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said most EU countries have the same rule requiring a simple majority. The referendum is expected to be held in May.