Constitution of Romania
|Constitution of Romania|
|Created||21 November 1991|
|Ratified||8 December 1991|
|Author(s)||Antonie Iorgovan et al.|
|Purpose||Replaced the Communist 1965 constitution|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Constitution of Romania was adopted on 21 November 1991. It was approved that same year in a national referendum on 8 December and introduced on the same day. It remains the current fundamental law that establishes the structure of the government of Romania, the rights and obligations of the country's citizens, and its mode of passing laws. It stands as the basis of the legitimacy of the Romanian government.
The constitution was amended once by a referendum on 18 October 2003. The new text took effect on 29 October 2003.
The Constitution of 1991, as revised in 2003, contains 156 articles, divided into 8 titles:
- Title I - General principles
- Title II - Fundamental rights, liberties, and duties
- Title III - Public authorities
- Title IV - The economy and public finance
- Title V - Constitutional Court
- Title VI - Euro-Atlantic integration
- Title VII - Revising the Constitution
- Title VIII - Final and transitional provisions
Regulamentul Organic, voted by the respective Assemblies of Moldavia and Wallachia under Imperial Russian occupation in 1831-1832, was the first organic law resembling a constitution ever awarded to the Danubian Principalities. It remained in place until 1858, when the Crimean War removed the two countries from Russian influence and confirmed the rule by several European powers first established by the Treaty of Paris; the Paris Convention of 1858 remained the governing document following the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Domnitor over the united countries (1859), but was replaced by Cuza's own organic law, entitled Statutul dezvoltător al Convenţiei de la Paris ("Statute expanding the Paris Convention"), in 1864.
The first constitution of the United Principality (later Kingdom) of Romania was adopted 1 July 1866. After the extension of national territory in 1918, a new constitution was approved 29 March 1923. It was repealed by King Carol II in 1938, when an authoritarian regime formed around the National Renaissance Front adopted a new, corporatist constitution on 27 February this document was, in turn, cancelled in 1940 by the Iron Guard's National Legionary State government. The 1923 constitution was reinstated after the fall of the Ion Antonescu dictatorship in 1944 (see Romania during World War II).
The new constitution of Communist Romania was adopted in 1948 following the Soviet model, with subsequent variants appearing in 1952 and 1965 (the former "building the socialism", the latter announcing the "socialism has won" and notably making the change from a People's Republic to a Socialist Republic). The Communist regime fell in 1989, after which large portions of the 1965 document were suspended, and the present document was adopted in 1991.
Initial version (1991)
The 1991 Constitution enshrined the return to democracy after the fall of the Communist regime. The draft was composed by a committee of parliamentarians and constitutional law specialists; was approved by Parliament, meeting as a Constituent Assembly, by a vote of 414 to 95 on 21 November 1991, being published in Monitorul Oficial the same day; and was approved by referendum on 8 December 1991, with 77.3% voting in favour. The 1991 Constitution contains 7 titles and 152 articles. Romania is defined as a “national, sovereign, independent, unitary and indivisible state”. The form of government is the republic, the president having up to two four-year terms. He represents the Romanian state in domestic and foreign relations, ensures obedience to the constitution and the proper functioning of state institutions, and is the guarantor of the state’s independence, unity and integrity. Parliament is “the supreme representative organ of the Romanian people and the sole lawmaking authority”; it is bicameral (Chamber of Deputies and Senate) and elected for four years. After the prime minister is named by the president, Parliament validates the composition and programme of the Government and can dismiss it following a motion of censure. The constitution provides for fundamental civic rights and freedoms, and creates the office of Romanian Ombudsman to ensure these are respected.
First revision (2003)
The 1991 Constitution has been amended one time, in 2003. Articles were introduced on “Integration into the European Union” and “NATO Accession”, bringing the total to 156 in 8 titles. These specified that both could take place by parliamentary vote alone, and that EU citizens living in Romania can vote and run in local elections. The new document grants minorities the right to use their native language when dealing with local administration and the courts, improves the functioning of the legislative chambers (better specifying their attributes) and restricts the privilege of parliamentary immunity to political declarations, extends the president’s term to five years, explicitly “guarantees” rather than “protects” the right to private property and removes the constitutional obligation for conscription (which ended in 2006). The revised document was adopted by referendum on 18–19 October 2003; turnout was slightly above the 50%+1 threshold needed for it to be valid, with 55.7% of 17,842,103 eligible voters showing up. The opposition and NGOs alleged serious irregularities. 89.70% voted yes and 8.81%, no. It came into force ten days later.
Proposed second revision
The issue of constitutional reform was raised repeatedly in the early 2010s, especially after a major political crisis in the second half of 2012. The ruling coalition at the time, the Social Liberal Union, claimed that insufficient constitutional constraints led then-incumbent President Traian Băsescu to abuse his presidential powers, thus justifying new amendments. A public debate began in 2013 and a Parliamentary Commission for the Revision of the Constitution was established. However, the reform project stalled as the Social Liberal Union dissolved in early 2014 and Băsescu ended his term later that year.
Băsescu's successor, Klaus Iohannis, expressed support for a second revision of the Constitution, as did Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who stated that such a revision should be a political priority in 2015, as there are no elections scheduled in Romania that year. On 18 January 2015, the vice-president of the Parliamentary Commission, Valeria Schelean, requested the immediate convocation of the commission to begin working on amendments.
- Mihaela Cristina Verzea, "Constituţia RPR din 27 septembrie 1952" ("1952: The Constitution of People's Republic of Romania"), Dosarele Istoriei, 8/2003, pp. 22-26
- Mirela Luca, “Opozitia acuza ca referendumul pentru Constitutie a fost fraudat” (“The Opposition Charges that the Constitutional Referendum was Rigged”), Ziarul Financiar, October 21, 2003.
- “Grave incalcari ale legii si nereguli organizatorice, produse la scara nationala, cu ocazia referendumului din 18 - 19 octombrie” (“Serious violations of the law and organisational irregularities, produced on a nationwide scale, on the occasion of the referendum of 18 - 19 October 2003”)
- "Mai este oportună revizuirea Constituţiei?". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- "Ponta: Modificarea Constituţiei trebuie să devină o prioritate în 2015, an fără presiuni electorale". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- "Klaus Iohannis: Revizuirea Constituţiei trebuie făcută în perioada următoare. Sunt şi texte care au permis interpretări forţate". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- "Vicepreședintele comisiei pentru revizuirea Constituției Valeria Schelean(PNL) cere convocarea rapidă a lucrărilor comisiei". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Stoica, Stan (coordinator), Dicţionar de Istorie a României, p. 94-5. Bucharest: Editura Merona, 2007.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- (English) The Constitution of Romania at the Chamber of Deputies' website
- (Romanian) Text in Romanian
- (Romanian) 1991 version