Romania extended the voting hours to boost turnout and increase the chances of reaching a minimum threshold to make a July 29 referendum on removing President Traian Basescu valid. Lawmakers voted in favor of changing a referendum law to keep polling stations open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mircea Dusa, the government minister in charge with the relations with the legislature, told reporters today. Parliament’s two houses also voted to introduce a requirement of a minimum turnout to meet the terms of a Constitutional Court ruling and pledges to European Union leaders.
The ruling coalition led by Premier Victor Ponta and interim president Crin Antonescu’s Social Liberal Union wants to oust Basescu amid a power struggle that weakened the country’s currency to a record low this week. The court requirement of a turnout minimum may give the president a chance to defeat the referendum with 9 million people required to cast ballots during the summer holidays. “The only other change to the referendum law, besides the voter turnout threshold, is the extension of the voting hours to ensure increased participation because it’s a summer day,” Ponta said today.