Romanian Foreign minister Titus Corlatean announced his resignation on Monday, one week before the second and final round of presidential elections pitching Corlatean's boss, Victor Ponta, and opposition candidate Klaus Iohannis against each other. Corlatean's resignation comes a week after thousands of Romanians abroad could not cast their vote in the first round of elections and two days after street protests at home and calling for guarantees that in the second round everybody would be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
UPDATE PM Victor Ponta designated Teodor Melescanu, who earlier this autumn resigned as head of Romania's Foreign Intelligence Service to run in the presidential elections, to replace Corlatean as Foreign minister. Melescanu won 1.09% of the votes in the first round of the presidential poll a week ago. He then announced his support for Ponta's candidacy in the second round, with Ponta consequently announcing he would name Melescanu a presidential foreign affairs aide should he become president.
In announcing his resignation, Corlatean blamed it on incumbent President Traian Basescu - who has called for him to resign - and on opposition candidate Iohannis. He said he could "not accept the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to breach the law on Mr Basescu's and Mr Iohannis' electoral grounds".
Corlatean along with Romania's minister for Romanians abroad were both held responsible by President Basescu and a wave of Romanians protesting in major cities at home and across Europe for the situation created in the first round of the presidential elections.
A week ago, unprecedented bureaucracy made thousands of Romanians in many European cities spend their Sunday in huge queues to cast their ballots. Many of them could not vote by the time the voting sections closed. That prompted an outcry, many blaming PM Ponta and his foreign affairs team of an alleged attempt to undermine the vote of the Romanian Diaspora.
Romanians abroad are well known for their voting against the candidates of the Social Democrats, heirs of the Ceausescu-era communist party - who in these elections are represented by PM and party leader Victor Ponta.
On Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets in major Romanian cities and in cities across Europe to call for guarantees that their constitutional vote to right is respected. The protests often turned into protests against Victor Ponta. Still, the impact of the protests on the elections is hard to evaluate given that most news channels in Romania failed to report them - or provided a biased angle, claiming the protests were the workings of opposition candidate Iohannis.
On Monday, Titus Corlatean said a series of measures were taken to support the second round of elections abroad. He said a team of about 800 diplomats were available to support the voting process, but claimed that he was not legally allowed to expand the number of voting sections, as people have demanded.
That is, despite that the Central Electoral Office has said there was no problem with organising supplementary polling stations for the second round.
And he said that a series of documents that Romanian voters have to fill in were now available for download online so people would no longer have to fill the papers on the spot.