Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu said on Monday that the ministry he runs has “exhausted the resources” it can put at the disposal of the Romanians in the Diaspora who want to vote.
Melescanu said he presented a report on the Diaspora to the prime minister and called for more ambassadors from the diplomatic missions where there were problems: the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Finland, Denmark , Austria, Cyprus.
“We will also analyze the causes and responsibilities,” Melescanu affirmed, adding that the embassies were the ones that rated the number of voters in each country.
“There are several reasons, but the main issue is to have a discussion with the ambassadors,” Melescanu pointed out at a press conference.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that for the future there is an extended early vote proposal so that those in the Diaspora can vote 3-4-7 days before, “so that no one can remain outside a polling station.”
He described the current electoral process as “very bureaucratic” and also said that “one of the most serious issues” of the May 26 poll was “the very late decision of the president to hold a referendum.”
“It is regrettable and I apologize to all people who have been in the queue. (…) The Foreign Affairs Ministry has reached the threshold of its logistic capacities,” Melescanu said.
The main issue related to the unfolding of the May 26 vote at out-of-country polling stations was that there were two ballots, instead of one, requiring the handling of three ballot papers, which took a serious toll on the time needed to vote, Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Melescanu also told a press conference on Monday.
Melescanu said that on February 8 he sent a circular note to all diplomatic missions asking them to submit proposals for the polling stations, if they wanted to keep the same number or if additional polling places were needed.
“I also asked all the embassies to take into account, in their proposals, the numbers of the Romanian community and consult with them with regard to the choice of the polling stations and obtain from the local authorities the approval for opening new polling stations in various locations,” Melescanu said, adding that for this year’s elections to the European Parliament the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has organized 441 polling stations, twice as many as in 2014, 2009 and 2007. Most of the stations, he said, were in Italy – 76, Spain – 50, the Republic of Moldova – 36, the US – 31, the UK – 29, Germany – 25, France – 17 Austria – 9, Belgium 8. Most consulates were accommodated in new locations, the Foreign Minister explained.
Melescanu argued that ballot casting in the more than 400 polling stations unfolded in accordance with the legal provisions, but that incidents occurred at several stations, with the most serious issues registered in the countries with strong Romanian communities: Great Britain, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Cyprus.
The Foreign Affairs Minister added that on election day, starting at 16:00, he had requested the extension of the voting hours until after 21:00, but the reply of the Bureau for polling stations abroad had been that the process should take place in the same time interval – 7.00 – 21.00, regardless of the location.