Foreign Ministry, accused of making embassies ‘advertise’ for postal voting

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has sent all embassies and consular offices abroad a series of instructions on how to popularise the postal voting draft and to convince Romanians living in other countries to take part in future elections, daily ‘Jurnalul National’ reported. The draft law, initiated by Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi and his institution, has not yet been submitted to parliamentary debates, but Romanian diplomats already have to ‘disseminate’ it among fellow nationals, the publication said. According to recent statistics, there are three million Romanians with a right to vote living abroad. In the 2009 presidential elections, only 140,000 of them voted.

The list of instructions sent by the Foreign Ministry includes recommendations such as meetings with Romanian associations and communities, publishing editorials of the foreign minister in the Diaspora’s most important publications or handing out a brochure called “Postal voting in ten steps.” The instructions also include advice on how embassy officials should respond to criticism of the postal voting draft law.

Commenting on the report, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release that the steps taken by the institutions are normal for any public information campaign. “The instructions are based on a series of general/standard guidelines, used for all public campaigns initiated by the Foreign Ministry,” the institution said.

Yesterday, meanwhile, the opposition Social Democrats demanded the Foreign Ministry to set up a register of all voters abroad as a first measure to help make votes secure. The party insisted that the current postal voting draft published by the Foreign Ministry “favours election fraud”. Following the 2009 presidential elections numerous accusations of fraud have been forwarded by the opposition parties and also by some Romanians living abroad.

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