Faulty voting process abroad cannot remain just a simple event that once passed, to be forgotten. On the contrary, it should become a very serious topic on the agenda of the Government. Lessons from this situations should be learned, those responsible should pay, and the authorities (Government and Parliament) need to take, after a very serious analysis of mistakes made in the organization process of the elections but also of the current legislation necessary steps to modify or adapt the laws in order to prevent and avoid such unpleasant situations for the next elections.
In the meantime, one of those directly involved in the organization of the Sunday’s presidential runoff, Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu announced he would tender resignation at the Government’s meeting on Tuesday.
Melescanu, who was appointed just days before the presidential runoff, following the scandal over Diaspora’s vote in the first round of elections on November 2 when Titus Corlatean resigned from the helm of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, couldn’t do much in such a short time to ensure the voting process for the runoff would have gone smoother than in the first round.
“Not all the Romanian citizens living abroad were able to exercise their voting right (in Sunday’s presidential run-off – editor’s note) and this thing must be taken responsibility for. Since we live in a country where nobody is too keen to take responsibilities and the only concern is to shift responsibility from one person to another, I, as a man of honour, take this responsibility and will tender my resignation as foreign minister at the Government’s meeting today”, Melescanu told a news conference.
Melescanu stressed that someone has to take responsibility for the fact that not all the Romanian citizens who went to the polls abroad were able to exercise their voting right.
“I regret these flaws that occurred during the second round vote and I want to publicly apologize to all the Romanian citizens who showed an amazing civic spirit by staying in line for hours to exercise their voting right and for some of them, it was all in vain,” Melescanu said.
The foreign affairs minister underscored that the responsibility for what happened at the polling stations set up abroad does not belong to the citizens, but to “the rigidity of the existing legal framework”.
“My main personal conclusion is that the Law no. 370/2004 in its current form does no longer fit the demographic reality and the free movement tendencies especially across Europe. If we do not amend this law so as to set up a modern voting mechanism adapted to the large mass of Romanian citizens who live outside Romania’s borders … it will not be possible to hold elections with no discrimination, allowing all Romanians to exercise their voting right,” Teodor Melescanu concluded.
Romanian Ambassador to Italy: “Diplomatic and consular missions requested 66 polling stations to be set up”
Romania’s Ambassador to Italy, Dana Constantinescu said that the diplomatic and consular missions have no sort of competence as regards regulating the legal framework on organizing elections abroad; she stressed they suggested the organization of 66 polling stations ahead of the second round, reports Agerpres. “I want to reiterate that the diplomatic and consular missions have no sort of competence as regards regulating the legal framework on holding elections abroad, namely the number of polling stations, the closing hours or appointing the members of the electoral commissions, the elements that have generated the most heated debates. The diplomatic and consular missions have exclusively logistics competences, enforcing the instructions of the Bucharest authorities, often under extremely difficult circumstances, such was the management of a disproportionate number of voters within a limited time frame, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and in a limited number of locations,” Dana Constantinescu wrote on the official Facebook page of Romania’s Embassy to Italy. She mentioned that even before the second round of the presidential elections, Romania’s diplomatic and consular missions in Italy suggested the setting up of 66 polling places. According to the ambassador, the Italian forces of order have the obligation to ensure the safety of diplomatic missions or voting stations. In her opinion, the public debate on this topic should take into account the significant effort of individuals who are not responsible for the real deficiencies of the vote abroad. Dana Constantinescu said that two polling places were asked for the Consulate General of Romania in Turin, as well as for the Piedmont region, but a single polling station was approved for the Consulate General in Turin. “The answer from Bucharest did not take into account our proposals, as they approved through order of the minister only 51 polling places. For instance, we received instructions from Bucharest to set up a polling place that was not among our proposals, namely at Sondrio, where only 48 voters went to the polls in the first round,” the Romanian official says. She mentioned that in her area of competence where she organized the voting process, the Romanian Embassy suggested the setting up of 22 polling stations, of which only 12 were approved by the Bucharest authorities.
Romania’s Ambassador to the UK: “It was regrettable that not everybody could vote”
Ion Jinga, the Romanian ambassador to the United Kingdom, claims he could not do anything for the citizens who could not vote abroad in the presidential election on Sunday. ‘The presidential elections are over, the results are known. What is less known is the huge volume of work carried out by the staff of Romanian embassies to have the election proceeding as smoothly as possible, while observing the law. It is absolutely regrettable that in some cases, not everybody who came to vote could exert this right. The reasons were independent of the will and duties of Romanian embassies and diplomats members of the polling stations,’ the ambassador declared about the conditions of the presidential runoff ballot in the polling stations in the United Kingdom. In a statement to AGERPRES on Monday night, Jinga reminded that in most cases the embassy had a single diplomat in each polling station. According to him, 6,000 Romanians voted in the UK in the presidential elections of 2009, and 10,000 in the first round of 2014, whereas nearly 26,000 cast their ballots in the second round, on November 16. He also asserted the diplomats in London fulfilled their legal duties ‘in an exemplary way.’ Moreover, Jinga said the 2004 version of the election law was more flexible about the polls closing time. ‘In its current evolution, the electoral law did not undergo the most inspired modifications in all cases. The polls closing time was more flexible in the initial version of 2004, compared to the one applicable now. In the 2004 presidential election, the law allowed voting all those present ‘inside the polling station’ at 9pm, which allowed hundreds of people in the waiting lines at that time be admitted in the building (or courtyard) of the polling station, and the process continue until the last person arrived at 9pm has voted; I was the ambassador in Brussels back then, and I did that. In its current version, the law, however, clearly stipulates that only ‘the voters who are inside the voting hall at 9pm can exert their voting rights,’ the diplomat pointed out.