"It is worth noting that, legally, direct mayoral elections when mayors are elected by municipal communities are possible only following constitutional amendments," the court said.
The ruling will come into force on May 3, 2023, i.e., just before the term of now-elected mayors expires.
"It means that municipal mayors elected during the 2019 and later elections will be able to serve until the end of their term. However, direct mayoral elections in 2023 will only be possible following amendments to Article 119 of the Constitution," the court said.
The Constitutional Court also noted that in this case it did not consider the purposefulness of direct mayoral elections.
46 lawmakers from the previous parliament, mostly members of the now-ruling Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, but also several liberal MPs and members of the Labor Party and the former Order and Justice Party, had turned to the Constitutional Court over direct mayoral elections.
They raised the issue of direct mayoral elections could have been introduced without constitutional amendments.
The lawmakers doubted whether different methods of electing mayors and members of local council, and also exceptional and wide competence of directly-elected mayor, partly entering the competence of local executive institutions, did not violate the single-stage self-governance system enshrined in the Constitution.
In their opinion, the Constitution does not differentiate between council members. Quite the contrary, it enshrines the same legal regulation for everyone.
Direct mayoral elections were introduced in Lithuania in 2015 and such elections have already been held twice in the country. Before, mayors would be elected by local councils.