Romanians living in Spain and Italy that board a flight back home may soon be surprised to find themselves sitting next to a government minister, as Bucharest launches a novel campaign to increase awareness about postal voting. EurActiv Romania reports.
The Minister for Relations with Romanians Abroad, Dan Stoenescu, will head the campaign and will be taking to the skies to answer any questions Romanians may have about the new way of voting. Discussions will take place during official plane journeys to and from Spain and Italy, countries where there are large communities of Romanian expats.
For safety reasons, the minister’s presence on board will not be announced in advance. Stoenescu will travel in economy class, and members of the cabin crew will invite any Romanians on the plane to put questions to him.
The aim of the campaign is to inform the Romanian diaspora about changes to the electoral system for parliamentary elections. But, according to a government statement, passengers will be encouraged to bring up any other issues or problems facing Romanians abroad.
The scheme will take off today (19 February), during a trip between Bucharest and Madrid operated by the country’s flag carrier, TAROM, and will run until the parliamentary elections in autumn.
An information campaign will also be launched about signing up to the electoral register, which is one of the main novelties of the postal vote law.
Postal voting legislation, passed on 28 October 2015, allows Romanians who are domiciled abroad and who wish to vote by correspondence to do so by written request submitted in person or posted to the diplomatic mission or consul of the country where they reside. They are also required to submit important documents such as passports and residence permits.
The change in law came about as a result of complaints made by some of the 2 million Romanians living outside the country, mostly in the rest of the EU, who could only previously vote by going to their local consul or embassy. Massive queues and long delays were commonplace, which dissuaded many people from turning out and voting.
However, the change was not welcomed by everyone, with the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians from Romania (UDMR) citing loopholes and the risk of voter fraud. The new system will likely have a negative impact on the UDMR, as its voter base is predominantly domestic.