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Angry Romanians protest after being denied European vote

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Angry Romanians protest after being denied European vote
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La coda di rumeni a Nizza, Francia - Reuters
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Thousands of Romanian diaspora protested outside embassies and polling stations across Europe Sunday after long queues left many unable to vote.

Angry crowds banged on the walls of the embassy in The Hague, Netherlands, after voters were turned away when polls closed.

Police were called as crowds shouted "We want to vote!" and "Thieves!"

There were similar protests in Brussels and in parts of London where many had waited for hours to vote in both the European elections and a national referendum on anti-corruption laws.

Sunday’s double ballot was the first big popularity test for the ruling PSD party whose overhaul of the judiciary and changes to anti-graft legislation have drawn strong criticism from the European Union and the United States.

Romanian voters express their frustrations

Narcisa Nechita, a Romanian based in Amsterdam, told Euronews she wasn't able to cast her ballot even though she queued between 14:30 and 21:00:

"I headed to the voting station in Diemen, Amsterdam to vote for the Romanian elections for the European Parliament, and the referendum against changing anti-corruption legislation. The reason I do this after living for ten years abroad is that I still feel connected to my home country and I want it to become a better place to which I hope to return one day. I wish to see there a more democratic democracy, as I got used to seeing here in western Europe.

What happened today in Amsterdam was not democratic. The voting station was open from 9:00 to 21:00. I arrived there at 14:30. There was a very long queue. I did not make it inside before they closed the doors at 21:00.

It went very slow, mainly because the details had to be written by hand on two lists. At about 15:00 a few extra people were approved to help with the writing, but still this did not make the line get any smaller. There were simply much more people who wanted to vote than they could handle. And any decision to take action to change this situation had to go through Romanian authorities in Bucharest, and that was slow. The Dutch authorities were extremely helpful. They did as much as they could, but not too much was in their hands.

At the end of the day, we were hundreds of disappointed people outside unable to vote. The queue was still filling up the square in front of the voting station. And I'm sure they were many more that gave up along the way at seeing such a long line."

Laura Catana, who is based in Luxembourg, told a very similar story and said legal action against responsible authorities was underway:

"I started queuing at 14:45 today to vote for the European elections and most importantly the Romanian anti-corruption referendum. At 21:00, the local police forced us out of the door of the Romanian Embassy.

The representative of the Embassy said something about not knowing the exact number of people in the country, but even without a precise number, they knew this would have happened. It is not the first time, we are over 3,000 people only in Luxembourg, many more if you count in the region. They could have kept it open for longer hours, organize it over two days, but they (the government) simply did not want, since this referendum has the great potential to touch them where it hurts most - making it difficult to continue corrupt games and change laws as they want. I estimate about 500 people did not manage to vote and others left during the course of the day when they realized they would not manage. (...)

When the local police in Munich tried to help by creating a new fence and getting people in so they could still vote, the central authority closed the electronic system so that nobody could vote anymore... This is a European Union country. I hope other states will help the Romanian citizens to put the pressure on the Romanian government and make this the last time people need to queue to exercise their rights...

There was a great feeling today in the crowd. A feeling of change. The civil society in Romania is awakening slowly but surely.

Romanians are now getting organised to see what kind of legal action we can take against the authorities in charge of this."

Roxanna Stoica posted videos of queues near the Romanian embassy in London on her Twitter account.

She told Euronews:

"[The feeling among Romanian citizens in London was] determination and frustration ... I had no expectations and I was shocked to see the queue. I got to vote after 7 hours of waiting and everybody was rushing to allow as many others to vote as possible, so I chose not to ask any further questions in the interest of time. All I wanted was to vote quickly and to allow someone else the chance to vote after a long wait."

Yes, I have experienced something similar in the Presidential Elections of 2014 (...)

At least today I managed to vote for the Referendum for Justice. It’s truly concerning that Romanians are denied their fundamental right to vote. I’m proud to see so much determination and perseverance in my fellow Romanians, but it’s unjust that they have to go through this experience. Typical for Romanians though, many chose to turn frustration into laughter to cope with the situation but looking at the big picture I really hope and expect that someone in the Romanian Government assumes responsibility for this massive failure of guaranteeing democratic rights to its citizens."

Robert Bas, a journalist for NOS captured these scenes of armed police with dogs sent to disperse angry voters.

He said that after waiting for hours and not being able to vote, some Romanian voters climbed over the fence and entered the ground of the embassy and banged on the door. Some yelled 'we want to vote' and 'thieves'

Watch a report from #TheCube in the player above