Thousands protest Romania voting difficulties

AP News
Posted: Nov 09, 2014 2:09 PM
Thousands protest Romania voting difficulties

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of people have protested against the Romanian government a week before a presidential runoff, saying it has been making it difficult for citizens abroad to vote.

Romanians in Paris, London, Vienna and elsewhere have said they were unable to vote in the Nov. 2 first round of the presidential race because of long lines.

In response, the government said Friday it would open more polling booths, and other measures to speed up the process, but protesters said it wasn't enough. On Sunday, the foreign ministry said it would dispatch some 800 officials from Bucharest and embassies and consular offices abroad to help Romanians there vote in the Nov. 16 runoff.

The announcement came after about 5,000 people gathered in the city Cluj in northwestern Romania late Saturday, and hundreds turned out in Bucharest, Constanta and other cities shouting "Get out and vote!"

On Sunday a few hundred gathered in Bucharest and elsewhere to protest for a second day. They yelled "Klaus, Klaus, help us get rid of Mickey Mouse!" the nickname for Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Ponta faces Sibiu Mayor Klaus Iohannis in next Sunday's runoff, which Ponta is favored to win.

Around 2 million Romanians live abroad.