World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Politics of Romania

Article Id: WHEBN0000025639
Reproduction Date:

Title: Politics of Romania  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: National Union for the Progress of Romania, Human rights in Romania, Foreign relations of Romania, Metropolitan areas in Romania, Romanian Communist Party (present-day)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Politics of Romania

Coat of arms of Romania
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Politics of Romania takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Romania is the head of government and the President of Romania exercises the functions of head of state. Romania has 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

Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania since 21 December 2014.

The President is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two 5-year terms (4-year terms until 2004). S/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 chairperson of the Supreme Council of National Defense. According to the constitution, s/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 absolute majority of the Parliament or, if there is no such majority formed, with all the parties in the Parliament.

The ambiguity of the Constitution of Romania (Article 85 (1), Article 103 (1) [1]) may lead to situations where a coalition of parties obtaining an absolute majority in the Parliament, or a party that holds the relative majority in the Parliament would not be able to nominate the Prime Minister because the President would refuse to accept the nomination. The president argued that there is no party with absolute majority in Parliament. Article 103(1) states that "unless no such majority exists" which was interpreted by the President as "unless no such party exists" although the absolute majority might be formed by one party, a coalition of parties or an alliance.

In the 2008 general parliamentary elections [2] PSD-PC won 33,09 of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 34,16 of the seats in the Senate, and PNL won 18,57 of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 18,74 of the seats in the Senate, together holding over 50% of both the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Nonetheless, speculating the Constitution, the President decided to nominate a member of PDL which won less than 32.36 of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 33,54 of the seats in the Senate - thus not even holding a relative majority 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. The prime minister is head of government, executive power is exercised by the government.

Legislative branch

The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest has housed the Chamber of Deputies since 1996 and also the Senate since 2005.
Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the Senate Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu Liberal Reformist Party - PLR 3 July 2012
President of the Chamber of Deputies Valeriu Zgonea Social Democratic Party - PSD 3 July 2012

The national legislature is a bicameral parliament (Romanian: Parlament), consisting of the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaților) and the Senate (Senat). Members are elected for 4-year terms by universal suffrage under party list proportional representation electoral systems. Starting last election (November 2008) members are elected using a mixed member proportional representation.

The number of senators and deputies has varied in each legislature, reflecting the variation in population. As of 2008, there are 137 senatorial seats and 334 seats in the Chamber of Deputies; of the 334 deputy seats, 18 are held by the ethnic minorities representatives that would not pass the 5% electoral threshold that all the other parties and organizations must pass.

Political parties and elections

Romania has a multiparty system, which makes a majority government virtually impossible. The last eight years saw a settlement of the political scene, with merging of small parliamentary parties with larger ones. Despite that, the politics of Romania are still vivid and unpredictable. Currently there are five parliamentary parties (excluding the 18 ethnic minorities parties that have one representative each):

Party name Party name (Romanian) Ideology Leader(s) Notes
Social Democratic Party Partidul Social Democrat (PSD) social democratic, centre-left Victor Ponta ruling party, formerly part of the union PSD+PC (until 2010) followed by a legally unrecognized political alliance (USL 2.0) with the Liberal Reformist Party, the Conservative Party and the National Union for the Progress of Romania.
National Liberal Party Partidul Național Liberal (PNL) liberal, centre-right Vasile Blaga main opposition party. PDL merged with PNL in the summer of 2014 to form the largest right-leaning party in Romania.
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Alianța Liberalilor și Democraților (ALDE) centre-right Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu and Daniel Constantin ruling party, merger of PLR and PC
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România (UDMR) centrist, Hungarian minority party Hunor Kelemen opposition party
National Democratic Party Partidul National Democrat (PND) populism Daniel Fenechiu opposition party, emerged from collapse of the People's Party – Dan Diaconescu.

The main non-parliamentary parties (around the 5% threshold) but with local representatives are:

Party Name Party Name (Romanian Ideology Leader Notes
Greater Romania Party Partidul România Mare (PRM) Nationalism, Third position, Anti-Hungarian sentiment, National conservatism, Social conservatism Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the party since its foundation, has died in 2015. No interim leader elected as of October 2015
New Generation Party – Christian Democratic Partidul Noua Generație – Creştin Democrat (PNG-CD, PNG) Romanian nationalism, Christian democracy George Becali
Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party Partidul Național Țărănesc Creștin Democrat (PNȚ-CD) Christian democracy, Agrarianism Marian Miluț/Aurelian PavelescuVasile Lupu/Victor Ciorbea legal dispute regarding leadership

Unlike other former Soviet-bloc countries, no party claiming to be the successor of the Communist Party of Romania is a significant player on the political scene. Since the first elections held after the fall of Communism, no party claiming to be the successor of the PCR has ever won a seat in the legislature.

The last presidential election took place on November the 2nd and 16th 2014.

The last European Parliament election took place in May the 25th 2014.

The last legislative election took place on December the 9th 2012.

The last general local election took place on 10 June 2012, with an unexpected run-off and two repeated elections for mayor on 24 June 2012.

Judicial branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice Livia Stanciu none September 2010
President of the Superior Council of Magistrates Adrian Bordea none January 2011

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 Justiție și Casație (The High Court of Justice and Cassation). The Romanian judicial system is an inquisitorial system, with a strong French influence.

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.

Constitutional issues

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the Constitutional Court Augustin Zegrean none June 2010

The Curtea Constituțională (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 is a court outside the judicial branch of Government, and 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.

Regional institutions

The Romanian political mechanism

For territorial and administrative purposes, Romania is divided into 41 counties (județe, singular județ) 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 some of Romania's politicians remains a source of controversy.


Angry miners protesting near Victoria Palace, Bucharest (February 1990)

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 centres 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 Dobrogea. 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.


In November 2004, Traian Băsescu, at that time the leader of the Democratic Party (PD), won the presidential election. 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 of Romania to the European Union. On 1 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 health care.

On 19 April 2007 the Romanian Parliament suspended President Traian Băsescu on charges of unconstitutional conduct. The suspension, passed in a vote of 322 parliamentarians to 108, opening the way for a national referendum on his impeachment[3] which failed.


The 2013 protests against the Roșia Montană Project turned into an anti-government social movement.

The November 2008 parliamentary elections were a close call, with the Social Democrats (PSD) winning about 33.9% of the vote, President Traian Basescu's centrist Liberal Democrats (PDL) taking 32.34%, and the ruling National Liberals (PNL) getting a mere 18.6%.[4] The Liberal Democrats and Social Democrats formed a coalition after the election. Former prime minister Theodor Stolojan eventually withdrew his candidacy for the premiership and President Basescu nominated Emil Boc, president of the Liberal Democrats as Prime Minister.

With the onset of the Great Recession, Romanian political scene has seen tensions between the President and Premier, but also between the civilian population and the two personalities. These tensions have escalated with a political crisis in 2012 and a new attempt to impeach President Traian Băsescu. During the referendum, more than 7.4 million people (nearly 90%) voted for his removal from presidency. However, the Constitutional Court of Romania invalidated the referendum, because wasn't reached the threshold of 50% + 1. Previously, Băsescu labeled this attempt as a "coup d'état" and asked the public to boycott it. All these events have been heavily criticized by international political figures.

The legislative elections of 9 December 2012 were regarded by public as a chance to change something in Romania and to oust the President Traian Băsescu. The Social Liberal Union obtained a huge majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, with 60.07% and 58.61% of the votes respectively and in MP mandates, a record number of 395 seats. The new prime-minister, Victor Ponta, quickly formed a new government. The failure to adopt reforms as quickly as possible triggered a wave of national protests. Many people consider that the government has not respected the promises of the 2012 electoral campaign. Two other projects of national interest (shale drilling and Roșia Montană mining project) unleashed massive protests. Even if demonstrations had initially an ecological character, they turned into mass anti-government protests.

Participation in international organizations

Romania participates in the following international organisations:

WTO, Zangger Committee

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links

  • List of Romanian Embassies
  • World Statesmen: Romania, including a comprehensive list of princes, monarchs, prime ministers, etc.
  • Erik Herron's Guide to Politics of East Central Europe and Eurasia

Further reading

See also : Romania, European Union, List of political parties in Romania
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.