Senate of Romania
|1992–2008; 2016–present: Closed list, D'Hondt method |
2008–2016: nominal vote, Mixed member proportional representation
|6 December 2020|
|6 December 2024|
|Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest|
The Senate (Romanian: Senat) is the upper house in the bicameral Parliament of Romania. It has 136 seats (before the 2016 Romanian legislative election the number was 176), to which members are elected by direct popular vote using party-list proportional representation in 43 electoral districts (the 41 counties, the city of Bucharest plus 1 constituency for the Romanians living abroad), to serve four-year terms.
First Senate (1859–1944)
The parliamentary history of Romania is seen as beginning in May 1831 in Wallachia, where a constitution called 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 Statutul Dezvoltător ("Expanding Statute"), to introduce a bicameral parliament, with an upper house named in Romanian 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 previously 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.
Suspension and abolition (1940–1944)
In September 1940, after the abdication of King Carol, the National Legionary State suspended the parliament but itself lasted less than five months. It was succeeded by Ion Antonescu's military dictatorship and the parliament remained suspended.
After the royal coup of 23 August 1944, on 15 July 1946 the government controlled by the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) issued an electoral law that re-organized the parliament as a single legislative body, called the Assembly of Deputies, thus disestablishing the Senate. Under the 1948 constitution this became the Great National Assembly, a relatively impotent body subordinate to the power of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR).
Senate recreated (1990)
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 2021 the necessary constitutional changes to achieve this have not been put into effect.
The first Romanian Senate functioned between 1864 and 1869 in a small building, which still exists today on the Calea Șerban Vodă. Once the new building of the University of Bucharest was inaugurated, the Senate moved in a bigger hall in that building. Between 1929 and 1940, it was temporarily housed in a building on the Regina Elisabeta Boulevard, while a new Palace of the Senate was to be built in today's Națiunile Unite Square. This building was never finished.
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 (PCR). During the Revolution, Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena fled by helicopter from the roof of the building. In 2005 the senators moved into the Palace of the Parliament, joining their colleagues from the Chamber of Deputies. "Palatul Senatului" now houses the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
|Party||Election seating||Lost||Won||Present seating|
|Social Democratic Party||47||34.55%||1||0||46||33.82%|
|National Liberal Party||41||30.14%||0||0||41||30.14%|
|Alliance for the Union of Romanians||14||10.29%||1||0||13||9.56%|
|Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania||9||6.61%||0||0||9||6.61%|
|Humanist Power Party||—||—||0||1||1||0.73%|
|Party||Election seating||Lost||Won||End seating|
|Social Democratic Party||67||49.26%||10||2||59||43.38%|
|National Liberal Party||30||22.05%||4||0||26||19.11%|
|Save Romania Union||13||9.55%||0||0||13||9.55%|
|Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania||9||6.61%||1||1||9||6.61%|
|Alliance of Liberals and Democrats||9||6.61%||5||3||7||5.14%|
|People's Movement Party||8||5.88%||4||1||5||3.67%|
|Humanist Power Party||—||—||0||2||2||1.47%|
In the 2004 Romanian legislative election, held on 28 November 2004, the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA) 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 (PNL) and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians (UDMR) formed a minority government coalition.
Elections to the Senate were held on 26 November 2000, in which the Social Democratic Party (then abbreviated PDSR) 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:
|Party||% of seats||Seats|
|Social Democratic Party||46.43||65|
|Greater Romania Party||26.43||37|
|National Liberal Party||9.29||13|
|Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania||8.57||12|
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 the presidents of the upper house of the Parliament of Romania (after the development of a modern party system) is given by the following legend table:
| PNL = National Liberal Party |
(formerly the historical National Liberal Party between 1875 and 1947)
| PNȚ-CD = Christian Democratic National Peasants' Party |
(formerly the historical National Peasants' Party - PNŢ between 1926 and 1947)
| FSN/PD/PDL = Democratic Liberal Party |
| PSD = Social Democratic Party |
| ALDE = Alliance of Liberals and Democrats |
(until 2015 Liberal Reformist Party - PLR)
|USR = Save Romania Union (USR)|
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||18 June 1990||16 October 1992||FSN|
|1992||37||Oliviu Gherman||1930–2020||22 October 1992||22 November 1996||FDSN/PDSR|
|1996||38||Petre Roman||1946–||27 November 1996||22 December 1999||PD|
|39||Mircea Ionescu-Quintus||1917–2017||4 February 2000||30 November 2000||PNL|
|2000||40||Nicolae Văcăroiu||1943–||15 December 2000||30 November 2004||PDSR/PSD|
|2004||30 November 2000||14 October 2008||PSD|
|—||Doru-Ioan Tărăcilă||1951–||14 October 2008||28 October 2008||PSD|
|41||Ilie Sârbu||1950–||28 October 2008||13 December 2008||PSD|
|2008||42||Mircea Geoană||1958–||19 December 2008||23 November 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||19 December 2012||PNL|
|2012||19 December 2012||10 March 2014|
|45||Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu||1952–||10 March 2014||21 December 2016||Ind./PLR/ALDE|
|2016||21 December 2016||2 September 2019||ALDE|
|—||Șerban Valeca||1956–||2 September 2019||10 September 2019||PSD|
|46||Teodor Meleșcanu||1941–||10 September 2019||3 February 2020||Ind. with|
|—||Titus Corlățean||1968–||3 February 2020||9 April 2020||PSD|
|—||Robert Cazanciuc||1971–||9 April 2020||21 December 2020||PSD|
|2020||47||Anca Dragu||1972–||21 December 2020||Incumbent||USR PLUS|
- Filimon, Paul (20 July 2015). "Legea ALEGERILOR PARLAMENTARE pe LISTE, promulgată de Iohannis". România Liberă (in Romanian).
- Radu Carp, Governmental responsibility and parliamentary irresponsibility in the Romanian constitutional tradition, by chapter 5 Archived 7 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Pagina oficiala a Senatului României Archived 16 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine