Hundreds of Romanians are pictured queuing to vote at the Romanian embassy in Luxembourg on 27 May 2019
Photo: Adina Barbu
Police were called out to manage crowds of frustrated Romanians in Luxembourg who on Sunday waited hours to vote in a referendum on anti-corruption legislation as well as the European elections.
According to Oana Marangoci, a dual Romanian-Luxembourg citizen who waited over eight hours to vote at the Romanian embassy in Luxembourg, the embassy opened five voting booths for the ballot. “At the beginning it went quite quickly but once in a while it was blocked,” she told Delano, adding that as frustrated voters began queue jumping, and people became weary “quarrels and insults were shouted.”
Marangoci added that a separate “fast-track” queue was established for people with children aged under 5. She suggested some voters exploited this and “borrowed” children to get into the polling booth more quickly.
At 8:15pm, the embassy called police to manage the crowds, to which voters responded by shouting “we want to vote” and singing the national anthem. It then closed at 9pm.
"The members of the polling station have taken all possible legal steps to allow the exercise of the right to vote by all interested Romanian citizens (including entering as many citizens as possible in the embassy building before the closing hours), but unfortunately this was not possible," the embassy told Delano on Monday.
According to the embassy, officials had requested an extension to the voting hours from the central election office but their request was refused by the central electoral bureau. "Following the appreciation of the diplomatic mission, at the end of the voting program, 300 to 400 citizens were still in front of the polling station," the embassy added.
The embassy said that 1,739 Romanian citizens successfully voted in the European Parliament elections and 1,758 Romanian citizens voted in the national referendum at its polling station. According to Statec, there are some 5,209 Romanians registered as living in Luxembourg.
According to Euronews, some Romanian nationals in Luxembourg have begun legal proceedings against the responsible authorities.
Police are pictured lined up in front of the Romanian embassy on 26 May 2019. Photo: Daniel Delguste
Sunday’s non-binding vote was called by the centrist president Klaus Iohannis, and asked whether the government should be banned from reforming judicial legislation through the use of emergency decrees, a power it currently holds. In a second question, Romanians were asked if they wanted a national ban on any amnesties or pardons for political corruption. The two formed part of criminal law changes which the Romanian parliament adopted on 24 April. In both instances, voters sided against the ruling social democrat (PSD) party. Meanwhile, the PSD saw support fall in the European elections, down from 45% to 25.8% of the vote. At the same time, the new opposition USR-Plus alliance received 24% of the vote.
The importance Romanians gave to the questions was reflected in long queues not only in Luxembourg. In other countries, including the Netherlands, Euronews reported some voters queuing for hours only to be turned away when the voting offices, which were set up for Romanian expats, closed.