Fourth Seimas of Lithuania
The Fourth Seimas of Lithuania was the fourth parliament (Seimas
The Seimas is the unicameral Lithuanian parliament. It has 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. About half of the members of this legislative body are elected in individual constituencies , and the other half are elected by nationwide vote according to proportional representation...

) elected in Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 after it declared independence
Act of Independence of Lithuania
The Act of Independence of Lithuania or Act of February 16 was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty...

 on February 16, 1918. The elections took place on June 9 and June 10, 1936, a bit less than ten years after the Third Seimas was dissolved by President Antanas Smetona
Antanas Smetona
Antanas Smetona was one of the most important Lithuanian political figures between World War I and World War II. He served as the first President of Lithuania from April 4, 1919 to June 19, 1920. He again served as the last President of the country from December 19, 1926 to June 15, 1940, before...

. The Seimas commenced its work on September 1, 1936. Its five-year term was cut short on July 1, 1940 when Lithuania lost its independence to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. It was replaced by the People's Seimas in order to legitimize the occupation. Konstantinas Šakenis was chairman.

After a military coup d'état in 1926
1926 Lithuanian coup d'état
The 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état was a military coup d'etat in Lithuania that resulted in the replacement of the democratically elected government with a conservative authoritarian government led by Antanas Smetona. The coup took place on December 17, 1926 and was largely organized by the military;...

, Smetona assumed the power and continued to strengthen his position. In 1935–1936, Smetona's prestige was declining as a trial against 122 Nazi activists in the Klaipėda Region
Klaipėda Region
The Klaipėda Region or Memel Territory was defined by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 when it was put under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors...

 caused Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 to declare a boycott of Lithuanian imports of agricultural products. This caused an economic crisis in Suvalkija
Suvalkija or Sudovia is the smallest of the five cultural regions of Lithuania. Its unofficial capital is Marijampolė. People from Suvalkija are called suvalkiečiai or suvalkietis . It is located south of the Neman River, in the former territory of Vilkaviškis bishopric...

 (Southern Lithuania), where farmers engaged in violent protests. Advisers to Smetona tried to convince him that a Seimas could share the criticisms that was aimed solely at the President.

In early 1936, before the election, all public organizations had to re-register with the government. Political parties, however, were not re-registered and had to close. The Lithuanian Nationalists Union
Lithuanian Nationalists Union
The Lithuanian Nationalist Union , also known as the Nationalists , was a nationalist, right-wing political party in Lithuania, founded in 1924 when the Party of National Progress merged with the Lithuanian Farmers' Association. It was the ruling party of Lithuania from the 1926 Lithuanian coup...

 remained the only party in Lithuania. A new electoral law provided that the nominations of the candidates must come not from parties but from counties and municipal councils which were appointed by the central government. The votes were to be cast not for party lists, but for specific individuals. The number of representatives was reduced from 85 to 49. Such changes provided that the Nationalists got 42 seats; remaining seven seats were taken by the Young Lithuania, a youth branch of the Nationalists Union.

The Seimas functioned primarily as an advisory to the President: it debated proposals, made recommendations, and confirmed President's decisions. Its main purpose was to adopt a new constitution. It was accomplished on February 11, 1938. The new constitution provided for even more powers to the president. Up to that point all constitutions defined Lithuania as an independent democratic republic; the 1938 constitution dropped the word "democratic."
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