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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
||Alexandru Ioan Cuza
|Secretary-General of the Communist
* The years 1859–61 prince of Moldova and Valakiet.
** The years 1974–89 also the president of Romania.