Politics of Romania

Politics of Romania take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Romania is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Romania's 1991 constitution, amended in 2003 proclaims Romania a democratic and social republic, deriving its sovereignty from the people. It also states that "human dignity, civic rights and freedoms, the unhindered development of human personality, justice, and political pluralism are supreme and guaranteed values".

The constitution provides for a President, a Parliament, a Constitutional Court and a separate system of lower courts that includes The High Court of Cassation and Justice. The right to vote is granted to all citizens over 18 years of age.

Executive branch

Traian Băsescu
20 December 2004
Prime Minister
Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu
29 December 2004The President is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two 5-year terms (4-year terms until 2004). He is head of state (charged with safeguarding the constitution, foreign affairs, and the proper functioning of public authorities), supreme commander of the armed forces and chairman of the Supreme Council of National Defense. According to the constitution, he acts as mediator among the power centers within the state, as well as between the state and society. The president nominates the Prime Minister, following consultations with the party that holds the majority in the Parliament. If none of the parties hold an absolute majority, the president will choose the prime minister following consultations with all the parties represented in the parliament. The nominated prime minister chooses the other members of the government and then the government and its program must be confirmed by a vote of confidence from parliament.

Legislative branch

The national legislature is a bicameral parliament (Romanian: "Parlament"), consisting of the Chamber of Deputies ("Camera Deputaţilor") and the Senate ("Senat"). Members are elected for 4-year terms by universal suffrage under party list proportional representation electoral systems.

The number of senators and deputies has varied in each legislature, reflecting the variation in population. As of 2004, there are 137 senatorial seats and 332 seats in the Chamber of Deputies; of the 332 deputy seats, 314 are elected, and 18 are reserved for ethnic minorities not otherwise represented in the parliament.

Political parties and elections


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Judicial branch

The Romanian legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code. The judiciary is to be independent, and judges appointed by the president are not removable. The president and other judges of the Supreme Court are appointed for a term of 6 years and may serve consecutive terms. Proceedings are public, except in special circumstances provided for by law.The judicial power belongs to a hierarchical system of courts culminating with the supreme court-"Înalta Curte de Justiţie şi Casaţie" (The High Court of Justice and Cassation). The Romanian judicial system is an inquisitorial system, with a strong French influence.

The "Curtea Constituţională" (The Constitutional Court) judges issues of constitutionality when invoked in any judicial court and judges the compliance of laws or other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, if these are brought before it. It follows the tradition of the French Constitutional Council in requiring 9 judges to hold a 9-year, non-renewable term. Following the 2003 revision of the Constitution, its decisions cannot be overturned by any majority of the Parliament.

The High Court of Cassation and Justice is the highest judicial authority. Its judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Superior Council of Magistrates.

The Ministry of Justice represents "the general interests of society" and defends the rule of law as well as citizens' rights and freedoms. The ministry is to discharge its powers through independent, impartial public prosecutors.

Regional institutions

For territorial and administrative purposes, Romania is divided into 41 counties ("judeţe", singular "judeţ") and the city of Bucharest. Each county is governed by an elected county council. Local councils and elected mayors are the public administration authorities in villages and towns. The county council is the public administration authority that coordinates the activities of all village and town councils in a county.

The central government appoints a prefect for each county and the Bucharest municipality. The prefect is the representative of the government at the local level and directs any public services of the ministries and other central agencies at the county level. A prefect may block the action of a local authority if he deems it unlawful or unconstitutional. The matter is then decided by an administrative court.

Under new legislation in force since January 1999, local councils have control over spending of their allocations from the central government budget as well as authority to raise additional revenue locally. Central-government-appointed prefects formerly had significant authority over the budget; this is now limited to a review of expenditures to ascertain their constitutionality.


Romania has made great progress in institutionalizing democratic principles, civil liberties, and respect for human rights since the Romanian Revolution of 1989.

A large number of present-day Romanian politicians (members of all parties, across the current political spectrum) are former members of the Romanian Communist Party. Since membership in the party was a key requirement for advancing to high-level positions before 1989, many people joined more out of a desire to get ahead than as a result of any deep political persuasion. Nevertheless, the Communist past of the majority of current Romanian politicians is a source of neverending controversy.


Over 200 new political parties sprang up after 1989, most gravitating around personalities rather than programs. All major parties espoused democracy and market reforms, to varying degrees. By far the largest party, the governing National Salvation Front (FSN) proposed slow, cautious economic reforms and a social safety net. In contrast, the main opposition parties, the National Liberal Party (PNL), and the Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNŢCD) favored quick, sweeping reforms, immediate privatization, and reducing the role of the ex-Communist Party members. The Communist Party ceased to exist.

In the 1990 presidential and legislative elections, the FSN and its candidate for presidency, Ion Iliescu, won with a large majority of the votes (66.31% and 85.07%, respectively). The strongest parties in the opposition were the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), with 7.23%, and the PNL, with 6.41%.

After the FSN Prime Minister Petre Roman's brutal sacking just a few months before the 1992 general elections (following a descent on Bucharest in late 1991 by angry and dissatisfied coal miners), the FSN broke in two. President Iliescu's supporters formed a new party called the Democratic National Salvation Front (FDSN), while Roman's supporters kept the party's original title, FSN.


The 1992 local, legislative, and presidential elections revealed a political rift between major urban centers and the countryside. Rural voters, who were grateful for the restoration of most agricultural land to farmers but fearful of change, strongly favored President Iliescu and the FDSN, while the urban electorate favored the CDR (a coalition made up by several parties – among which the PNŢCD and the PNL were the strongest – and civic organizations) and quicker reform. Iliescu easily won reelection over a field of five other candidates. The FDSN won a plurality in both chambers of the Parliament.

With the CDR, the second-largest parliamentary group, reluctant to take part in a national unity coalition, the FDSN (now PDSR) formed a government under Prime Minister Nicolae Văcăroiu, an economist, with parliamentary support from the nationalist Romanian National Unity Party (PUNR) and Greater Romania Party (PRM), as well as from the Socialist Workers' Party (PSM). In January 1994, the stability of the governing coalition became problematic when the PUNR threatened to withdraw its support unless given cabinet portfolios. After intensive negotiations, in August, two PUNR members received cabinet portfolios in the Văcăroiu government. In September, the incumbent justice minister also joined the PUNR. PRM and PSM left the coalition in October and December 1995, respectively.


The 1996 local elections showed a major shift in the political orientation of the Romanian electorate. Opposition parties swept Bucharest and most of the larger cities in Transylvania and Dobruja. This trend continued in the legislative and presidential elections of the same year, in which the opposition dominated the cities and made steep inroads into rural areas previously dominated by President Iliescu and the PDSR, which had lost many voters in their traditional stronghold constituencies outside Transylvania. The electoral campaign of the opposition hammered away on the twin themes of the need to squelch corruption and to launch economic reform. This message resonated well with the voters, resulting in a victory for the CDR coalition and the election of Emil Constantinescu as president. In order to secure its electoral majority, the CDR also invited Petre Roman's Democratic Party (formerly FSN) and the UDMR (representing the Hungarian minority) into government. Over the following 4 years, Romania had three prime ministers. However, despite these leadership changes, and constant internal frictions, the governing parties managed to preserve their coalition.


The coalition lost in the first round of presidential elections in November 2000, as a result of popular dissatisfaction with infighting among coalition parties in the previous four years, as well as with economic hardship brought by structural reforms. In the second round of the presidential elections, Iliescu, running again as the Social Democratic Party (PSD) candidate, won by a wide margin against extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM) candidate Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Iliescu appointed Adrian Năstase as Prime Minister. In parliament, the PSD government, like its predecessor, relied on the support of the UDMR, which did not join the Cabinet but negotiated annual packages of legislation and other measures in favor of Romania's ethnic Hungarians.

Năstase, in his four years as prime minister, continued the pro-Western foreign policy set by the previous government. The period was characterized by political stability unprecedented in post-communist Romania and consistent economic growth. Romania joined NATO in spring 2004 and signed an accession treaty to join the EU. Nonetheless, the PSD government was plagued by allegations of corruption, which would prove to be a significant factor in its defeat in local and national elections in 2004.

In September 2003, the Democratic Party (PD) and National Liberal Party ( PNL) formed an electoral alliance called the Justice and Truth (DA) Alliance in order to form a cohesive mainstream political opposition bloc against the then ruling PSD. The DA Alliance agreed to vote as a bloc in the Parliament and local councils and run common candidates in national and local elections, among other measures.

In October 2003, the country held a constitutional referendum in order to pass several constitutional amendments perceived as necessary for EU accession. The amendments included provisions to allow foreigners to own land in Romania; and to change the elected term of the President from four to five years.


The current president is Traian Băsescu, a former leader of the Democratic Party (PD). He fought a close election campaign, and was elected in December 2004 by a narrow margin. He appointed as prime minister National Liberal Party (PNL) leader Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, who headed a new government composed of the PNL, PD, UDMR, and the Conservative Party (formerly the Humanist Party). To secure a parliamentary majority, the coalition government also relied on the support of 18 seats in the Parliament reserved for ethnic minority representatives.

The government's narrow majority in the Romanian Parliament led to calls by some for early elections. In July 2005, Prime Minister Tăriceanu expressed plans to resign to prompt new elections, but then recanted, noting the need for him and the cabinet to focus on relief efforts in response to summer floods. In its first year, the government was also tested by a successfully resolved hostage crisis involving three Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq; and the appearance of avian influenza in several parts of the country, transmitted by wild birds migrating from Asia.

The government's overriding objective has been accession for Romania into the European Union. On the 3rd of January 2007, Romania became the 26th member of the E.U. At the same time, the government maintained strong relations with the U.S., signing in December 2005 an agreement that would allow U.S. troops to train and be positioned at several Romanian military facilities. Băsescu and Tăriceanu also publicly committed to combat high-level corruption and implement broader reform to modernize sectors such as the judicial system and healthcare.

On April 19th, 2007 the Romanian Parliament suspended President Traian Basescu on charges of unconstitutional conduct. The suspension, passed in a vote of 322 deputies to 108, opening the way for a national referendum on his impeachment [ [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/d3be5f1a-ee6e-11db-b5e9-000b5df10621.html Romanian Parliament Suspends President] ] which failed.

Participation in international organizations

Romania participates in the following international organisations:

ACCT, BIS, BSEC, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EEA, EU, FAO, Francophonie. G-9, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SECI, SEECP, SPSEE, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, Zangger Committee

ee also

*Human rights in Romania
*Military of Romania
*Relations of Romania with Moldova‎
*Movement for unification of Romania and Moldova
*Foreign relations of Romania

External links

* [http://embassy.romania.org/ List of Romanian Embassies]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Romania.htm World Statesmen: Romania] , including a comprehensive list of princes, monarchs, prime ministers, etc.
* [http://web.ku.edu/~herron/europe/romania.php Erik Herron's Guide to Politics of East Central Europe and Eurasia]


Further reading

* John Hickman and Chris Little, "Seat/Vote Proportionality in Romanian and Spanish Parliamentary Elections" Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Volume 2, Number 2, November 2000.

:"See also :" Romania, European Union, List of political parties in Romania

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