BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanians who live abroad have begun arriving back home for an anti-government protest where they will call for the left-wing government to resign and an early election.

Expatriates are staging a protest Friday in Bucharest to protest the way Romania is governed. Some of the estimated 3 million Romanians living abroad say they left because of corruption, low wages and lack of opportunities.

There were small anti-government protests in several cities, and by Thursday a handful of protesters had arrived in the large square outside the government offices where the demonstration will be staged.

Amid fears of violence at the protest, riot police Thursday called for a peaceful demonstration.

Local residents in western Romania applauded compatriots arriving by car late Wednesday with flags and banners opposing the ruling Social Democratic Party. Romanians who live abroad mostly oppose the party.

Senior government officials haven’t commented recently on the demonstration. Prime Minister Viorica Dancila is on vacation this week.

Romanians working abroad sent $4.6 billion in remittances last year, according to the World Bank.

Since the Social Democrats won elections in 2016, Romanians have regularly protested government moves to implement new laws that critics say will weaken the nation’s fight against corruption.

The party’s powerful leader, Liviu Dragnea, was handed a 3 ½-year prison sentence for official misconduct in June in a no-work job contracts’ case. He has appealed the ruling.

Hundreds of thousands of Romanians have signed a petition demanding a law that would ban people indicted for corruption and other offenses from office.

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