1938 Constitution of Romania

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Constitution of Romania
Created 20 February 1938
Ratified 27 February 1938
Author(s) Istrate Micescu
Signatories Carol II
Purpose Replace the 1923 Constitution

The 1938 Constitution of Romania was the fundamental law that established the authoritarian monarchic regime of King Carol II. It was drafted by a university professor, Istrate Micescu, based on suggestions given by the king, and made public on February 20, 1938. Four days later, voters were obliged to vote verbally (“yes” or “no”) on the charter before an election bureau. Of 4,303,064 who voted, 4,297,581 approved and the remainder (0.13%) voted against. The constitution was promulgated on February 27 and published in Monitorul Oficial the next day. Through its eight titles and 100 articles, the document enshrined the principle of the King’s supremacy, doing away with the separation of powers in the state and a series of civic rights and freedoms. The King exercised legislative power through a corporatist bicameral Parliament and executive power through a government that he named and dismissed without parliamentary involvement. The Assembly of Deputies was to be elected every six years and composed of members of the following professional categories: agriculture and manual labour; industry and commerce; intellectual occupations. Deputies were elected in single-member districts, by secret and compulsory ballot; districts were drawn so as to assure adequate representation based on voters’ professions. The Senate was composed of members appointed by the King, members by right and members elected in single districts (in the same manner as Assembly members). The proportion of appointed and elected members was equal, while senators by right had to meet the same conditions as set out in the 1923 Constitution. Appointed and elected senators had nine-year terms, while one-third of senators’ terms were renewed every three years.

King Carol suspended the constitution on September 5, 1940 and parliament was dissolved. Through a decree signed that day, titled “For the investment with full powers of the president of the Council of Ministers and the restriction of royal prerogatives”, the king transferred the power of leading the authoritarian state to General Ion Antonescu, who did not convene a parliament and ruled the country by decree until he was ousted on August 23, 1944. After this date, a constitutional and transitional regime was established until a Constituent Assembly could meet to draft a new constitution, until which time the provisions of the 1866 and 1923 constitutions were applied. On July 15, 1946, the Petru Groza government issued a decree that bore a constitutional character; this document established a unicameral system (the Assembly of Deputies) and granted the right to vote to all citizens over 21, including women. On December 30, 1947, after King Michael’s abdication, Parliament adopted a constitutional law that proclaimed the Romanian People’s Republic and abrogated “the Constitution of 1866 as modified on 29 March 1923 and 1 September 1944”. Until the 1948 Constitution was adopted, legislative power was in the hands of the Assembly of Deputies that met following the 1946 elections, while the executive was composed of a five-member presidium elected by the Assembly: Constantin Ion Parhon, Mihail Sadoveanu, Ştefan Voitec, Ion Niculi and Gheorghe Stere.

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References[edit]

  • Stoica, Stan (coordinator). Dicţionar de Istorie a României, pp. 90-1. Bucharest: Editura Merona, 2007.

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