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Romania Politics

State and politics

Romania's democratic constitution was adopted in 1991 and several amendments and additions were introduced in 2003 as an adaptation to the EU. The constitution has Western European role models, especially in the French constitution. Although it contains guarantees of human rights, criticism has been directed at Romania for discrimination in various ways against the country's minorities, especially the large group of Roma. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of RO and its meanings of Romania.

Government and Politics of Romania

GOVERNMENT

The supreme executive power lies with the president, who has a strong position. However, the President may be dismissed by Parliament if this considers it to be in breach of the Constitution, and this was done in the spring of 2012. However, since the decision must be approved in a referendum, the provision could never be enforced when turnout was too low. The president is elected in direct general elections for five years and can be re-elected once. Klaus Iohannis took office as president in December 2014.

Legislative power resides with the National Assembly (Parlamentul Romāniei), which has two chambers where the number of members varies between terms of office.

A new electoral system was introduced before the 2016 election, which meant that the number of members decreased; since then, the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputies) has 329 members, including 17 representatives of the ethnic minorities, while the Senate (Senatul) has 136 members. In a (non-binding) referendum in connection with the 2009 presidential election, a proposal to introduce a single chamber with a total of 300 members was strongly heard, but no changes have subsequently taken place.

The members are appointed for four years in general proportional parties. A party must have at least five percent of the electorate in order to get into parliament. Administratively, Romania is divided into 41 districts (Judea) plus the capital Bucharest.

Political parties

More than 200 political parties have been founded since the communist system disbanded in 1989, but after a series of changes and mergers, a few dominate today. The ideological differences are usually small. Virtually all parties have agreed on such things as the introduction of market economy and membership in NATO (where Romania joined in 2004) and the EU (2007); The party leaders' personalities are more crucial. Most parties depend on support from wealthy financiers. Many have tried to shoehorn in on their political commitment. One example is former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase (born 1950) who was convicted of corruption in 2012.

The party that grew out of the old Communist Party has changed its name a few times and is today called the Social Democratic Party (Partidul Social Democrat, PSD). Attempts have been made to modernize the party, whose core is still made up of former communists; it is supported mainly by industrial workers in the countryside and by the elderly. PSD and its predecessors held government power all year except four until 2004.

The parties that are slightly to the right of the political center and who want faster reforms have over the years formed alliances, split and renamed. The National Liberal Party (Partidul National Liberal, PNL) has often been in opposition but participated in government coalitions after the 1996 and 2004 elections and again in the PSD-led government that took office in the spring of 2012.

The Democratic Liberal Party (Partidul Democrat Liberal, PD-L) was formed in 2007 after a party merger but has its roots in the National Rescue Front from 1989. In 2010, the National Union for Romania's Development (Uniunea Naţională pentru Progresul Romāniei, UNPR) was formed as an outbreak of PNL and PSD but later merged with PSD. Neither PD-L nor UNPR received any mandate in the 2016 election.

The Hungarian Democratic Union (Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din Romānia, UDMR) has since 1996 been almost uninterrupted in the government or a support party, and thus the Hungarian minority has gained political influence. Behind the Conservative Party (Partidul Conservator, PC) stands the wealthy businessman and TV mogul Dan Voiculescu (born 1946), once an informant for Ceauşescu's secret police, Securitate. PCs pay tribute to traditional values, but despite their name, they have often collaborated with PSD.

New party coalitions were concluded before the parliamentary elections in December 2012. Among other things, PNL and PC, and later also PSD merged in the Social Liberal Union (Uniunea Social Liberală (USL)), while PD-L together with some smaller, Christian democratic parties formed the Romanian right alliance (Alianţa Romānia Dreaptă, ARD). A third political force became the newly formed, populist People's Party - Dan Diaconescu (Partidul Poporului - Dan Diaconescu, PP-DD), which got its name from the founder, a well-known TV profile.

The dominant force in the election was USL with nearly 59 percent of the vote, while ARD received just under 17 percent and PP-DD 14 percent of the vote. The Hungarian UDMR received 5 percent. However, turnout was low, only 42 percent.

In 2015, the Alliance was founded by liberals and democrats (Alianța Liberalilor și Democraților, Alde), who after the 2016 election formed a coalition government together with the PSD.

Policy

The Prime Minister and PSD leader Victor Ponta (born 1972) was re-appointed after the 2012 election to form a new government. The first years of Ponta's reign were dominated by a power struggle with former president Traian Băsescu, whom he accused of abuse of power. After an attempt to gather all power with himself by breaking the country's constitution, he also ended up on a collision course with the EU and several individual EU members. In Romania, Ponta retained its popularity through promises to ease the economic austerity driven by the former Partidul Democrat Liberal government.

During the 2010 century, Romania has tried to deal with the country's widespread corruption, but despite this, the Ponta's government has received harsh criticism both nationally and internationally for not doing enough to counteract the corruption.

Widespread protests against corruption and abuses in connection with a fire disaster at a nightclub in Bucharest in November 2015 led the government to announce its resignation in November. The country was then ruled by a party-politically independent transitional government led by Dacian Cioloș, former EU commissioner.

A new parliamentary election was held in December 2016. This resulted in a grand victory for the PSD, which received 154 out of 329 seats. Together with the 20 places that went to Alde, this was enough to form a coalition government. PNL became the second largest party with 69 seats. Of the total number of MPs, 68 were women (21 percent). Hard power struggles within the PSD led to several shifts in the Prime Minister's post. In 2018, Viorica Dăncilă was elected Prime Minister and became the first woman in the post.

In 2019, Liviu Dragne was sentenced to a multi-year prison sentence for corruption. Dăncilă succeeded in winning the PSD leadership battle but lost the prime ministerial post in October 2019. Dăncilă's government was dismissed through a declaration of confidence initiated by the conservative PNL with support from the USR, representatives of national minorities and former PSD MPs. The subsequent Conservative minority government, led by PNL's Ludovic Orban (born 1963), was voted on in November 2019 but fell due to a vote of no confidence in Parliament 2020.

In the 2019 presidential election, Conservative incumbent President Klaus Iohannis was opposed to former Prime Minister Dăncilă, with Iohannis victorious.

Judiciary

The Romanian legal system stood under strong French influence until the end of the Second World War, after which it was profoundly influenced by the Soviet legal model.

Since 1989, Romania has again developed a legal system adapted to the needs of the market economy and political democracy. The most important codifications are the Civil Code, the Commercial Code and the Civil Procedure Act.

The judiciary consists of two types of Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Since 2007, legal developments have been greatly influenced by the country's membership of the EU. The death penalty was abolished in 1989, when the last execution also took place.

Human Rights

After the fall of communism, many Romanians experienced a decline in living standards. Access to public health facilities deteriorated and unemployment increased (see Social conditions). In addition to the increase in the number of poor people, Romania also faced particularly serious problems with street children. Among the homeless children, illness and drug abuse are common. Estimates of the number of homeless children in Romania vary, but it is assumed that 2014 will be about a thousand.

Corruption is a widespread problem in Romania, which has also caused international criticism, including from the EU. Health care is one of the most corrupt sectors of society, and it is more a rule than exceptions that patients pay doctors and nurses alongside for care. Deficiencies in the justice system affect, among other things, women who are unable to prosecute offenders after abuse, as the burden of proof is far too high on women. Wife trafficking, violence against women and sexual harassment are widespread and are rarely investigated.

Trafficking in women and children is extensive in Romania. Romania is both the country of origin and transit and destination for human trafficking.

The Constitution and the law prohibit torture and other degrading treatment, but reports from NGOs show that the police often use excessive violence against detainees and interns and against the most vulnerable individual group in society, the Roma.

Freedom of the press is relatively high in Romania and there is considerable media diversity. However, a large proportion of the media is owned by wealthy businessmen who use them to promote political and economic interests. State media is also politically influenced. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2015, Romania is ranked 52 out of 180.

Discrimination and prejudice against Roma are widespread, and violence, harassment and insults are initiated by both citizens and authorities. Anti-Roman banners, frames and songs are common at major TV-broadcast sports events and similar events. There are reports of forced evictions and demolitions of Roman houses without the possibility of alternative housing as late as the 2010s. Despite the ban on child labor, many Roma children are found to be workers in the construction and household sectors.

Heads of State

princes
1861-66 * Alexandru Ioan Cuza
1866-81 Carol I
kings
1881-1914 Carol I
1914-27 Ferdinand I
1927-30 Mikael
1930-40 Carol II
1940-47 Mikael
Secretary-General of the Communist Party
1945-65 Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
1965-89 ** Nicolae Ceauşescu
presidents
1990-96 Ion Iliescu
1996-2000 Emil Constantinescu
2000-2004 Ion Iliescu
2004-14 Traian Băsescu
2014- Klaus Iohannis

* The years 1859–61 prince of Moldova and Valakiet.
** The years 1974–89 also the president of Romania.

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