Romanian foreign minister resigns in election row

Romanians living in other European Union states and other countries who planned to vote at their embassies complained of long queues

Romanian foreign minister resigns in election row

World Bulletin/News Desk

Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean resigned on Monday, a day after thousands of people rallied in support of compatriots abroad who were turned away as they tried to vote in the first round of a presidential election.

Corlatean, who was told by leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta to ensure the Nov. 16 runoff vote runs smoothly or risk losing his job, said on Saturday there would be more voting booths abroad but no increase in the number of polling stations.

Ponta won the first round of the election by a 10 percentage point margin over Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German mayor backed by two centre-right opposition parties. Ponta is likely to win the runoff vote, opinion polls showed.

Romanians living in other European Union states and other countries who planned to vote at their embassies complained of long queues, while some polling stations ran out of a form that must be signed before a ballot could be cast.

The Romanian Embassy in Paris called in French police as tempers flared.

"I cannot give reasons for contesting the outcome of the presidential election runoff on grounds of noncompliance with the law, abroad," Corlatean told a news briefing. "I can't break the law.

"The Foreign Ministry fully keeps its stance that there's no legal basis to up the number of polling stations abroad."

Analysts estimate there are up to 4 million Romanians living abroad, primarily in richer western Europe. Although only a fraction of them vote in elections, they have the power to influence the outcome.

Outgoing centre-right President Traian Basescu won by a margin of 70,000 votes in 2009 after trailing in opinion polls, largely because he secured more than three-quarters of the 148,000 ballots cast by the diaspora.

Last Mod: 10 Kasım 2014, 12:41
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