Second Romanian foreign minister resigns over election row

Melescanu said he was taking responsibility for the fact that many Romanians overseas were not able to cast their ballot in Sunday's run-off vote

Second Romanian foreign minister resigns over election row

World Bulletin/News Desk

Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said he would resign on Tuesday, the second foreign minister to quit in a week in response to protests over voting problems in presidential elections.

Melescanu said he was taking responsibility for the fact that many Romanians overseas were not able to cast their ballot in Sunday's run-off vote that inflicted a shock defeat on leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Melescanu's predecessor Titus Corlatean stepped down on Monday last week after similar problems disrupted voting in the first round of the poll. Analysts said anger over the first-round issues had appeared to galvanize the anti-Ponta camp, helping hand victory to centre-right mayor Klaus Iohannis.

Long queues and bureaucratic hurdles held up voting at Romanian embassies across the European Union and elsewhere in the first round on Nov. 2, with thousands unable to cast their ballots before polling stations closed.

For the Nov. 16 run-off, Romanian officials increased the number of voting booths and staff and removed some of the paper hurdles, but stopped short of increasing the number of stations.

TV footage showed long queues outside diaspora voting stations in cities across Europe on Sunday. Waiting since the early hours, Romanians in Munich waved toothbrushes at the cameras to show how long they were prepared to wait to vote.

Hundreds were turned away when polling stations closed, and police used tear gas in some instances, according to local television.

"The discrepancy between the number of stations and the number of voters made processing all requests impossible," Melescanu told reporters.

"Not all Romanians abroad could exercise their right to vote and someone must be accountable for that. I will file my resignation at the government meeting today."

It was unclear whether the prime minister would accept the resignation.

Analysts estimate there are up to 4 million Romanians living abroad, primarily in richer western Europe, though only a fraction vote in elections.

Almost 380,000 Romanians voted abroad on Sunday, a record and more than double the turnout in the first round.

Overall, preliminary data showed Iohannis, an ethnic German mayor whose campaign was backed by two centre-right parties, won 54.5 percent of votes against Ponta's 45.5 percent.

Last Mod: 18 Kasım 2014, 12:51
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