Politics of Romania

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Template:Politics of Romania 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".

Main political institutions

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

Legislative power

The national legislature is a bicameral Parliament (Parlament), consisting of the Chamber of Deputies or Camera Deputaţilor and the Senate or 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 senator seats and 332 deputy seats; of the 332 deputy seats, 314 are elected, and 18 are reserved for ethnic minorities not otherwise represented in the Parliament.

Legislative elections have been last held in November 2004; the following regular elections are scheduled for November 2008. See also Romanian legislative election, 2004.

The President

The president is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two 5-year terms (4-year terms until 2004). He is Chief 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 Defense Council. 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, who in turn appoints the government, which must be confirmed by a vote of confidence from Parliament.

Presidential elections have been last held in November 2004; the following elections are scheduled for November 2009. See also Romanian presidential election, 2004.

The current President is Traian Băsescu (since December 16, 2004).

Executive power

The Prime minister is appointed by the President, and he chooses his cabinet members. The Council of ministers must be approved by the united Houses of the Parliament by a vote of confidence, and must be endorsed by the President.

The current Prime Minister is Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu.

Judicial power

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 Constitutional Court adjudicates the constitutionality of challenged laws, and decides on appeals from the regular court system concerning the unconstitutionality of laws and decrees. The court consists of nine judges, appointed for a term of 9 years. Three judges are appointed by the House of Deputies, three by the Senate, and three by the president of Romania.

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 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 retained significant authority over the budget; this is now limited to a review of expenditures to ascertain their constitutionality.

Developments

Romania has made great progress in institutionalizing democratic principles, civil liberties, and respect for human rights since 1989. However, 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, however, 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.

1990-1992

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 opposition's main 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 (following a descent on Bucharest, in late 1991, by angry and dissatisfied coal miners), just a few months before the 1992 general elections, 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.

1992-1996

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 Ion 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.

1996-2000

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 have managed to preserve their coalition.

2000-2004

Emil Constantinescu lost the election in November of 2000 and is no longer president.

2004-2009

The current president is Traian Băsescu, a member of Partidul Democratic (PD). He fought a close election campaign, and was elected in December 2004 on a narrow margin.

International organization participation

Romania participates in the following international organisations:

ACCT, BIS, BSEC, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, 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), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, Zangger Committee

External links

See also

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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