Lithuania - referendum

Mon 12 May 2003

More than 90% of the Lithuanian voters said “yes” in the 11 May’s EU accession referendum. Despite existing fears, turnout was high enough to make the vote valid.

Preliminary results released today show that 91% back EU membership, while 9% oppose it. There had been concerns among the pro-EU factions that voter apathy might mean the required 50% turnout would not be met, but the officials said more than 64% of voters cast their ballots.

"I am really proud of the historic step the Lithuanian people has taken," Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said. "Now I can say with a certain inner confidence that everything will be okay for Lithuania."

Lithuania is the fourth country from the current enlargement group to vote in favour of joining the EU, after Malta, Slovenia and Hungary all voted "yes" earlier this year. Many see the Lithuania poll as a critical test ahead of referendums in Slovakia next week and Poland in June, which have similar turnout requirements and struggle with voter apathy.

Sources: Reuters and BBC News