|Type||Upper house of the Parliament of Romania|
|President||Crin Antonescu, National Liberal Party
Since 3 July 2012
|Voting system||1992–2008: Closed list, D'Hondt method
since 2008: Mixed member proportional representation
|Last election||9 December 2012|
|Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest|
The Senate (Romanian: Senat) is the upper house in the bicameral Parliament of Romania. It has 176 seats (as of 9 December 2012), to which members are elected by direct popular vote, using mixed member proportional representation in 42 electoral districts (the 41 counties plus the city of Bucharest), to serve four-year terms.
First Senate, 1859 to 1944
The parliamentary history of Romania is seen as beginning in May 1831 in Wallachia, where a constitution called the Regulamentul Organic ("Organic Statute") was promulgated by the Russian Empire and adopted. In January 1832 it came into force in Moldavia also. This laid the foundations for the parliamentary institution in the two Romanian principalities. At the Congress of Paris of 1856, Russia gave up to Moldavia the left bank of the mouth of the Danube, including part of Bessarabia, and also gave up its claim to be the protector of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Moldavia and Wallachia, while remaining under the suzerainty of the Ottomans, were recognized as quasi-independent self-governing principalities under the protection of the other European Powers.
The Paris Convention of 19 August 1858 promulgated the Statutul Dezvoltător ("Expanding Statute"), to introduce a bicameral parliament, with an upper house named in Romanian the Corpul Ponderator ("Moderating Body"). This was later renamed the Senat. A formal Union of the two principalities came in 1859. On the initiative of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, a plebiscite in 1864 enlarged the principle of national representation.
The 1866 Constitution of Romania proclaimed constitutional monarchy as Romania's form of government, on the basis of national sovereignty and the separation of powers. Legislative power was to be exercised by the new Prince (Carol I of Romania) and a bi-cameral parliament, with an Assembly of Deputies and a Senate.
On 9 May 1877, the Declaration of Romania's independence was read under the dome of the Romanian Parliament.
The 1923 Constitution, approved by both houses of parliament in May 1923, again entrusted legislative power to the Senate, the Assembly of Deputies, and the King. The constitution instituted the membership by right (senator de drept) in the Senate for:
- the heir to the throne
- Metropolitan bishops and diocesan bishops of the Orthodox and Greek-Catholic churches
- heads of state-recognised religious bodies
- the president of the Romanian Academy
- former presidents of the Council of Ministers
- former ministers with at least six years’ seniority
- former presidents of either legislative chamber who held this function for at least eight ordinary sessions
- former senators and deputies elected to at least ten legislatures, irrespective of their duration
- former presidents of the High Court of Cassation and Justice
- reserve and retired generals
- former presidents of the National Assemblies at Chișinău, Cernăuți and Alba Iulia, which proclaimed their respective provinces’ union with Romania in 1918 (see Union of Transylvania with Romania, Union of Bessarabia with Romania)
Additionally, the Senate included an elective element, chosen by corporatist electoral colleges, including the chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture, as well as university professors.
In February 1938, amid the political crisis which soon led to the Second World War, King Carol II imposed a more authoritarian monarchy. Under the Constitution of 1938, Parliament lost some of its main powers. The Senate was to be composed of members appointed by the King, members by right, and members elected in single-member electoral areas, in the same manner as Assembly members. The proportion of appointed and elected members was to be equal, while senators by right still had to meet the conditions set out in the 1923 Constitution.
1940–1944: suspension and abolition
In September 1940, after the abdication of King Carol, the National Legionary State suspended parliament but itself lasted less than five months. It was succeeded by Ion Antonescu's military dictatorship and parliament remained suspended.
On 23 August 1944, under pressure from the Soviet Union and other communist forces, parliament was re-organized as a single legislative body called the Chamber of Deputies of Romania. Under the 1948 constitution this became the Great National Assembly, a relatively impotent body subordinate to the power of the Romanian Communist Party.
1990: Senate recreated
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 opened the way to restoring pluralistic electoral democracy. Under the country's new post-communist Constitution of 1991, approved by a national referendum in 1991, Romania returned to a bicameral parliamentary system, in which the Senate is an elected body.
A referendum on modifying the size and structure of the Parliament from the current bicameral one with 137 senators and 334 deputies to a unicameral one with a maximum of 300 seats was held on 22 November 2009, at the same time as the first round of the 2009 presidential election. The electors approved by a percentage of 77.78% (50.95% turnout) the adoption of a unicameral Parliament, however as of 2012 the necessary constitutional changes to achieve this have not been put into effect.
After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the Senate was housed in the "Palace of the Senate" (Romanian: Palatul Senatului), located in Revolution Square. That U-shaped structure was built from 1938 to 1941 under engineer Emil Prager's coordination, following the plans of architect Emil Nădejde. It housed the Council of Ministers and from 1958 to 1989 it was the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party. During the Revolution, Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena fled by helicopter from the roof of the building. In 2005 Senators moved into the Palace of the Parliament, joining their colleagues from the Chamber of Deputies. "Palatul Senatului" now houses offices of the Ministry of Administration and Interior.
|Party||Election seating||Lost||Won||Present seating|
|Democratic Liberal Party||51||37.22%||19||2||35||37.96%|
|Social Democratic Party||49||35.77%||15||3||40||31.39%|
|National Liberal Party||28||20.44%||16||4||27||16.79%|
|Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania||9||6.57%||2||0||7||6.57%|
|National Union for the Progress of Romania||—||—||4||12||12||7.3%|
A list of senate candidates for the year 2012 can be found here
In the Romanian legislative election, 2004, held on 28 November 2004, the Justice and Truth Alliance won the greatest number of seats, even though no party won an outright majority. The President of the Senate for this legislature was Nicolae Văcăroiu, who was elected on 20 December 2004. Following his ad interim presidency of Romania, he delegated his attributions to the vice president Doru Ioan Tărăcilă. After Văcăroiu was sworn in as president of the Court of Accounts, Ilie Sârbu was elected as the new President of the Senate.
Until April 2007, the Justice and Truth Alliance governed in coalition with other minor parties. In April 2007, after the break-up of the Justice and Truth Alliance, the National Liberal Party and the Democratic Union of Hungarians formed a minority government coalition (highlighted in bold in the table below).
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
|Party||% of seats||Seats|
|Social Democratic Party||31.4||43|
|National Liberal Party||16||22|
|Greater Romania Party||13.1||18|
|Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania||7.3||10|
Elections to the Senate were held on 26 November 2000, in which the Social Democratic Party of Romania (PSD) won an overall majority. Then President of the Senate of Romania was Nicolae Văcăroiu, who was elected in December, 2000. The allocation of seats was as follows:
Presidents of the Senate
The Standing Bureau of the Senate consists of the President of the Senate, four vice-presidents, four secretaries, and four quaestors. The President of the Standing Bureau also serves as the President of the Senate. The President is elected, by secret ballot, for the duration of the legislative period.
The political stance of presidents of the upper house after the development of a modern party system is given by:
|National Liberal PartyPNL =||Conservative PartyPC =|
|Romanian National PartyPNR =||People's PartyPP =|
|Conservative-Democratic PartyPCD =||National Peasants' PartyPNŢ =|
|Democratic Nationalist PartyPND =||National Christian PartyPNC =|
|National Renaissance Front
FRN = |
(from 1940 PN; Party of the Nation)
|Ploughmen's FrontFP =|
|Romanian Workers' Party
PMR = |
(from 1965 PCR; Romanian Communist Party)
|National Salvation FrontFSN =|
|Party of Social Democracy in Romania
PDSR = |
(from 2001 PSD; Social Democratic Party)
|Christian-Democratic National Peasants' PartyPNȚCD =|
|Romanian Social Democratic PartyPSDR =||Democratic Liberal Party
PD-L = |
(until 2008 PD; Democratic Party)
|Mil. = Military||Ind. = Independent|
Interim (acting) officeholders are denoted by italics. The Rule of the Senate states that at the first standing of the house, the meeting is headed by the eldest senator and helped by the youngest senator. Those bear the title of Interim President of the Senate, and, as their term is very short (one or two days) are not listed. The interim officeholders listed have hold the office in different circumstances and for a longer time.
|Elections||#||Name||Portrait||Born-Died||Took office||Left office||Party|
|1990||36||Alexandru Bârlădeanu||1911–1997||June 18, 1990||October 16, 1992||FSN|
|1992||37||Oliviu Gherman||1930–||October 22, 1992||November 22, 1996||FDSN/PDSR|
|1996||38||Petre Roman||1946–||November 27, 1996||December 22, 1999||PD|
|39||Mircea Ionescu-Quintus||1917–||February 4, 2000||November 30, 2000||PNL|
|2000||40||Nicolae Văcăroiu||1943–||December 15, 2000||October 14, 2008||PDSR/PSD|
|—||Doru-Ioan Tărăcilă||1951–||October 14, 2008||October 28, 2008||PSD|
|41||Ilie Sârbu||1950–||October 28, 2008||December 13, 2008||PSD|
|2008||42||Mircea Geoană||1958–||December 19, 2008||November 23, 2011||PSD|
|—||Petru Filip||1955–||23 November 2011||28 November 2011||PDL|
|43||Vasile Blaga||1956–||28 November 2011||3 July 2012||PDL|
|44||Crin Antonescu||1959–||3 July 2012||December 2012||PNL|