Politics of Romania

Coat of arms of Romania
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politics and government of

Romania's political framework is a semi-presidential, representative democratic republic where the prime minister is the head of government and the president is the head of state. Executive power is exercised by the president of the republic and the government. Romania has a multi-party system, with legislative power vested in the government and the two chambers of parliament: the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Romania's 1991 constitution (amended in 2003) proclaims it a democratic and social republic, deriving its sovereignty from the people. According to the constitution, "Human dignity, civic rights and freedoms, the unhindered development of human personality, justice, and political pluralism are supreme and guaranteed values."

The constitution provides for a President, a Parliament, a Constitutional Court and a separate court system which includes the High Court of Cassation and Justice. The right to vote is granted to all citizens over 18 years of age.

Executive branch

Serious-looking man in a suit
Klaus Iohannis, president of Romania since 21 December 2014
Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Klaus Iohannis Independent
Supported by: National Liberal Party
21 December 2014
Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș Independent 17 November 2015

The president is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two five-year terms (four-year terms until 2004). S/he is head of state (charged with safeguarding the constitution, foreign affairs, and the proper functioning of public authority), supreme commander of the armed forces and chairperson of the Supreme Council of National Defense. According to the constitution, s/he acts as a mediator among the state's power centers and between the state and society. The president nominates the prime minister after consultation with the party holding an absolute majority in Parliament or, if there is no such majority, with all the parties in Parliament.

Ambiguity in the Constitution of Romania (Article 85 (1), Article 103 (1))[1] may lead to situations where a coalition of parties obtaining an absolute majority in Parliament, or a party holding a relative majority in Parliament, would be unable to nominate a prime minister because the president would refuse the nomination (with no party holding an absolute majority in Parliament). According to Article 103(1), "unless no such majority exists", interpreted by the president as "unless no such party exists" (although an absolute majority may be formed by one party, a coalition of parties or an alliance).

In the 2008 parliamentary elections,[2] the Alliance PSD+PC won 33.09 percent of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 34.16 percent of the seats in the Senate. The PNL won 18.57 percent of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 18.74 percent of the seats in the Senate, giving both parties a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. However, the president nominated a member of the PDL (which won less than 32.36 percent of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 33.54 percent of the seats in the Senate. The nominated prime minister chooses the other members of the government, and the government and its program must be confirmed by a vote of confidence from Parliament.

Legislative branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the Senate Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu Liberal Reformist Party 3 July 2012
President of the Chamber of Deputies Valeriu Zgonea Social Democratic Party 3 July 2012

The national legislature is a bicameral parliament (Romanian: Parlament), consisting of the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaților) and the Senate (Senat). Members are elected to four-year terms by universal suffrage in a party-list proportional representation electoral system. Beginning in 2008, members are elected by mixed member proportional representation.

The number of senators and deputies has varied in each legislature, reflecting changes in population. In 2008, there were 137 senatorial seats and 334 seats in the Chamber of Deputies; of the 334 deputy seats, 18 were held by the ethnic minorities representatives which would not meet the five-percent electoral threshold required for other parties and organizations.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Romania. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Romania.

Romania has a multiparty system, which makes a majority government virtually impossible; small parliamentary parties have merged with larger ones. Currently, there are five parliamentary parties (excluding the 18 ethnic-minority parties which have one representative each):

Party name Romanian name Ideology Leader(s) Notes
Social Democratic Party Partidul Social Democrat (PSD) Social democratic, centre-left Victor Ponta Ruling party; part of the National Union PSD+PC until 2010, followed by a legally-unrecognized political alliance (USL 2.0) with the Liberal Reformist Party, the Conservative Party and the National Union for the Progress of Romania.
National Liberal Party Partidul Național Liberal (PNL) Liberal, centre-right Alina Gorghiu and Vasile Blaga Main opposition party. The PDL merged with the PNL in the summer of 2014 to form Romania's largest right-leaning party.
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Alianța Liberalilor și Democraților (ALDE) Centre-right Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu and Daniel Constantin Ruling party, formed by the merger of the PLR and the PC
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România (UDMR) Centrist, Hungarian minority party Hunor Kelemen Opposition party
National Democratic Party Partidul National Democrat (PND) Populist Daniel Fenechiu Opposition party emerged from the collapse of the People's Party – Dan Diaconescu.

The main non-parliamentary parties (around the five-percent threshold) with local representatives are:

Party name Romanian name Ideology Leader Notes
Greater Romania Party Partidul România Mare (PRM) Nationalism, third position, anti-Hungarian sentiment, national and social conservatism Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the party since its foundation, died in 2015; no interim leader was elected as of October 2015.
New Generation Party – Christian Democratic Partidul Noua Generație – Creştin Democrat (PNG-CD, PNG) Romanian nationalism, Christian democracy George Becali
Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party Partidul Național Țărănesc Creștin Democrat (PNȚ-CD) Christian democracy, agrarianism Marian Miluț, Aurelian Pavelescu;Vasile Lupu, Victor Ciorbea Legal dispute over leadership

Unlike other former Soviet-bloc countries, no party claiming to be the successor of the Communist Party of Romania is a significant player on the political scene. The last presidential election was held on 2 and 16 November 2014.

 Summary of the 2 November and 16 November 2014 Romanian presidential election results
Candidates First round Runoff
Candidate Sustaining alliance or party Votes % Votes %
Klaus Iohannis Christian Liberal Alliance (PNLPDL) 2,881,406 30.37% 6,288,769 54.43%
Victor Ponta PSDUNPRPC Alliance[a] 3,836,093 40.44% 5,264,383 45.56%
Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu Independent[b] 508,572 5.36%
Elena Udrea PMPPNȚCD Alliance 493,376 5.20%
Monica Macovei Independent 421,648 4.44%
Dan Diaconescu People's Party – Dan Diaconescu 382,526 4.03%
Corneliu Vadim Tudor Greater Romania Party 349,416 3.68%
Hunor Kelemen Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania 329,727 3.47%
Teodor Meleșcanu Independent 104,131 1.09%
Zsolt Szilágyi Hungarian People's Party of Transylvania 53,146 0.56%
Gheorghe Funar Independent 45,405 0.47%
William Brînză Romanian Ecologist Party 43,194 0.45%
Constantin Rotaru Socialist Alternative Party 28,805 0.30%
Mirel Mircea Amariței PRODEMO Party 7,895 0.08%
Total valid votes 9,485,340 100.00% 11,553,152 100.00%
Invalid/blank votes 237,761 2.44% 166,111 1.41%
Turnout 9,723,232 53.17% 11,719,344 64.10%
Registered voters 18,284,066[c] 18,280,994[c]
  1. ^ Alternatively it is known as Social Democratic Union (USD). Legally this alliance could not use this name, as it belonged to an alliance between Democratic Party and Romanian Social Democratic Party.
  2. ^ The legal requirements for the registration of the Liberal Reformist Party were not fulfilled in due time for this election. As a result, Tăriceanu ran as an independent.
  3. ^ According to the Central Electoral Bureau.[3][4]
Source: Biroul Electoral Central; Biroul Electoral Central; Biroul Electoral Central

The last European Parliamentary election was held on 25 May 2014.

 Summary of the June 2014 European Parliament election results in Romania
Party No. of
Votes Elected Change
in seats
% of seats % of votes
National Party EU Party EP Group
Social Democratic Union
(Uniunea Social Democrată)
PES S&D 42 2,093,237 16 Increase 5 50% 37.60%
National Liberal Party
(Partidul Naţional Liberal)
ALDE ALDE Group 42 835,531 6 Increase 1 15.00%
Democratic Liberal Party[a]
(Partidul Democrat Liberal)
EPP EPP Group 42 680,853 5 Decrease 5 12.23%
Independent candidate: Mircea Diaconu ALDE 1 379,582 1 Increase 1 6.81%
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania
(Uniunea Democrată a Maghiarilor din România)
EPP EPP Group 41 350,689 2 Decrease 1 6.29%
People's Movement Party
(Partidul Mișcarea Populară)[b]
EPP Group 41 345,973 2 Increase 2 6.21%
People's Party – Dan Diaconescu
(Partidul Poporului – Dan Diaconescu)
No MEPs 204,310 3.67%
Greater Romania Party
(Partidul România Mare)
NI 150,484 Decrease 3 2.70%
Civic Force
(Forța Civică)
No MEPs 145,181 2.60%
Ecologist Party of Romania
(Partidul Ecologist Român)
No MEPs 64,232 1.15%
Total: 18,221,061 expected voters (turnout 5,911,794 – 32.44%) 4,899,383 32 Decrease 1 100 % 100 %
Source: Summary of results


  1. ^ Elena Băsescu re-joined PD-L after the exit-poll results where published in 2009.
  2. ^ Defectors from Democratic Liberal Party.

The last legislative election was held on 9 December 2012. The last general local election was held on 10 June 2012, with a run-off and two repeated elections for mayor on 24 June.

 Summary of the 10 and 24 June 2012 Romanian local election results
Party County Councils
Presidents (PCJ)
County Council
seats (CJ)
Mayors (P) Local Councils
seats (CL)
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Social Liberal Union (PSD, PNL, and PC)[a]
(Uniunea Social Liberală - USL)
4,260,709 49.71 36 4,203,007 49.68 723 2,782,792 33.99 1,292 2,630,123 32.74 12,668
Social Democratic Party[a]
(Partidul Social Democrat - PSD)
22 8,666 0.10 3 731,597 8.93 373 682,378 8.49 4,046
Centre Right Alliance (PNL and PC)[c]
(Alianța de Centru-Dreapta - ACD)
14 52,938 0.64 27 43,532 0.54 244
National Liberal Party[a]
(Partidul Național Liberal - PNL)
9,249 0.10 13 4,755 0.05 2 586,050 7.15 263 532,488 6.63 3,101
Conservative Party[a]
(Partidul Conservator)
1 611 0.00 0 62,591 0.76 14 69,687 0.86 381
Democratic Liberal Party[b]
(Partidul Democrat-Liberal - PDL)
1,268,611 14.80 2 1,289,680 15.24 212 1,241,802 15.17 488 1,116,312 13.89 6,155
People's Party – Dan Diaconescu
(Partidul Poporului – Dan Diaconescu - PP-DD)
787,143 9.18 0 757,194 8.95 134 577,195 7.05 31 668,234 8.32 3,021
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania
(Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România - UDMR)
467,420 5.45 2 473,783 5.60 88 400,627 4.89 202 435,205 5.41 2,248
National Union for the Progress of Romania
(Uniunea Națională pentru Progresul României - UNPR)
168,900 1.97 1 204,083 2.41 13 205,274 2.50 24 218,465 2.72 972
Greater Romania Party
(Partidul România Mare - PRM)
150,907 1.76 0 170,667 2.01 0 107,431 1.31 6 172,114 2.14 596
Ecologist Party of Romania
(Partidul Ecologist Român - PER)
63,650 0.74 0 82,581 0.97 2 34,227 0.41 3 59,883 0.74 177
Green Party
(Partidul Verde - PV)
80,697 0.94 0 63,508 0.75 0 24,131 0.29 2 39,199 0.48 113
Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania
(Forumul Democrat al Germanilor din România - FDGR)
69,445 0.81 0 62,085 0.73 11 15,540 0.18 8 18,847 0.23 57
Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party
(Partidul Național Țărănesc Creștin Democrat - PNȚCD)
31,077 0.36 0 44,733 0.52 0 19,910 0.24 3 38,549 0.47 142
New Generation Party
(Partidul Noua Generație - Creștin Democrat - PNG)
8,377 0.09 0 17,702 0.20 0 12,033 0.14 1 26,381 0.32 108
other competitors[d] 1,204,432 14.09 0 1,077,031 12.79 15 1,331,402 16.26 384 1,280,049 16.02 5,092
Total: 8,570,617 100 41 8,460,086 100 1,338 8,185,540 100 3,121 8,031,446 100 39,121
Invalid votes
  1. ^ PSD, PNL and PC ran as USL at county level and in the Capital, except in Covasna county, as well as in several other cities and communes. In some cities and communes the three parties ran in other alliances.
  2. ^ PDL ran by itself and in various alliances with different parties through the country. The main color used was light green, despite the official colors still being orange and blue, as used in Cluj.
  3. ^ Alliance between PNL and PC in some of the cities and communes.
  4. ^ Including PDL in various alliances.
Source: Central Electoral Bureau provisional results

Judicial branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice Livia Stanciu None September 2010
President of the Superior Council of Magistrates Adrian Bordea None January 2011

The Romanian legal system, based on the Napoleonic Code, is inquisitorial. The judiciary is independent, and judges appointed by the president are not removable. The president and other judges of the Supreme Court are appointed for six-year terms, and may serve consecutive terms. Proceedings are public, except in special circumstances provided for by law.

Judicial power is vested in a hierarchical system of courts, culminating with the supreme court: Înalta Curte de Justiție și Casație (High Court of Cassation and Justice), whose judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Superior Council of Magistrates.

The Ministry of Justice represents the general interests of society and defends the rule of law and citizens' rights and freedoms. The ministry exercises its power through independent, impartial public prosecutors.

Constitutional issues

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the Constitutional Court Augustin Zegrean None June 2010

The Curtea Constituțională (Constitutional Court) judges issues of constitutionality invoked in any court and judges the compliance of laws (or other state regulations) with the Romanian Constitution. The court, outside the judicial branch, follows the tradition of the French Constitutional Council with nine judges serving nine-year, non-renewable terms. Since the 2003 revision of the constitution, its decisions cannot be overturned by parliamentary majority.

Regional institutions

Romanian political mechanism

For territorial and administrative purposes, Romania is divided into 41 counties (județe, singular județ) and the city of Bucharest. Each county is governed by an elected council. Local councils and elected mayors are the public authorities in villages and towns. The county council coordinates the activities of village and town councils.

The central government appoints a prefect for each county and Bucharest, who represents the government at the local level and directs the ministries and other central agencies at the county level. A prefect may block the action of a local authority if he deems it unlawful or unconstitutional, with the matter then adjudicated by an administrative court.

Under legislation enacted in January 1999, local councils control the spending of their allocations from the central government budget and have the authority to raise additional revenue locally. Although centrally-appointed prefects formerly had significant authority over the budget, this is now limited to a review of expenditures to determine their constitutionality.

Since 1989

Romania has made progress in institutionalizing democratic principles, civil liberties, and respect for human rights since the Romanian Revolution of 1989. Some present-day Romanian politicians are former members of the Romanian Communist Party. Since membership in the party was a requirement for advancement before 1989, many people joined to get ahead rather than because of ideological conviction; however, the Communist past of some Romanian politicians remains controversial.


Demonstration in front of large, square building
February 1990 Mineriad near Victoria Palace in Bucharest

Over 200 new political parties sprang up after 1989, most gravitating to leaders rather than programs. All major parties espoused democracy and market reforms in varying degrees. The largest party by far, the governing National Salvation Front (FSN), proposed slow, cautious economic reforms and a social safety net. The main opposition parties, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNŢCD), favored rapid, sweeping reform, immediate privatization, and a reduction in the role of former Communist Party members. The Communist Party ceased to exist.

In the 1990 presidential and legislative elections, the FSN and its presidential candidate Ion Iliescu won with a large majority of the votes (66.31 and 85.07 percent, respectively). The strongest opposition parties were the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), with 7.23 percent, and the PNL (with 6.41 percent).

After FSN Prime Minister Petre Roman's dismissal a few months before the 1992 general elections (following a late-1991 Mineriad), the FSN split in two. President Iliescu's supporters formed a new party, the Democratic National Salvation Front (FDSN), and Roman's supporters retained the FSN name.


The 1992 local, legislative, and presidential elections indicated a political rift between urban centres and the countryside. Rural voters, grateful for the restoration of most agricultural land to farmers but fearful of change, strongly favored President Iliescu and the FDSN; the urban electorate favored the CDR (a coalition of several parties – the strongest of which were the PNŢCD and the PNL – and civic organizations) and quicker reform. Iliescu easily won reelection from a field of five other candidates, and the FDSN won a plurality in both chambers of parliament.

With the CDR, the second-largest parliamentary group, reluctant to participate in a national-unity coalition, the FDSN (now the PDSR) formed a government under Prime Minister and economist Nicolae Văcăroiu with parliamentary support from the nationalist Romanian National Unity Party (PUNR) and Greater Romania Party (PRM), and the Socialist Workers' Party (PSM). In January 1994, the governing coalition's stability became problematic when the PUNR threatened to withdraw its support unless it received cabinet portfolios. After intense negotiations, two PUNR members received cabinet portfolios in the Văcăroiu government in August. The following month, the incumbent justice minister also joined the PUNR. The PRM and the PSM left the coalition in October and December 1995, respectively.


The 1996 local elections indicated a major shift in the political orientation of the Romanian electorate, with opposition parties sweeping Bucharest and most of the larger cities in Transylvania and Dobruja. The trend continued in that year's legislative and presidential elections, when the opposition dominated the cities and made strong inroads into rural areas previously dominated by President Iliescu and the PDSR (which lost many voters in their traditional stronghold constituencies outside Transylvania). The opposition campaign emphasized the need to squelch corruption and introduce economic reform. This message resonated with voters, resulting in a victory for the CDR coalition and the election of Emil Constantinescu as president. To secure its electoral majority, the CDR invited Petre Roman's Democratic Party (the former FSN) and the UDMR (representing the Hungarian minority) to join the government. Although over the next four years Romania had three prime ministers, despite internal friction the governing parties preserved their coalition.


The coalition lost the first round of presidential elections in November 2000 as a result of popular dissatisfaction with infighting among the parties during the preceding four years and the economic hardship brought about by structural reforms. In the second round Iliescu, running again as the Social Democratic Party (PSD) candidate, won by a wide margin over extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM) candidate Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Iliescu appointed Adrian Năstase prime minister. In Parliament the PSD government (like its predecessor) relied on the support of the UDMR, which did not join the Cabinet but negotiated annual packages of legislation and other measures favoring Romania's ethnic Hungarians.

Năstase, in his four years as prime minister, continued the previous government's pro-Western foreign policy. The period was characterized by a political stability unprecedented in post-communist Romania and consistent economic growth. Romania joined NATO in spring 2004 and signed an accession treaty to join the EU. However, the PSD government was plagued by allegations of corruption which would be significant factors in its defeat in local and national elections in 2004.

In September 2003 the Democratic Party (PD) and National Liberal Party ( PNL) formed an electoral alliance, the Justice and Truth (DA) Alliance, as a mainstream opposition bloc to the ruling PSD. The DA Alliance agreed, among other measures, to vote as a bloc in parliament and local councils and run common candidates in national and local elections.

In October 2003, the country held a referendum on several constitutional amendments deemed necessary for EU accession. The amendments included provisions to allow foreigners to own land in Romania and to change the president's term from four to five years.


In 2004 Traian Băsescu, leader of the Democratic Party (PD), won the presidential election by a narrow margin. Băsescu appointed National Liberal Party (PNL) leader Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu prime minister, who headed a government composed of the PNL, PD, UDMR, and the Conservative Party (formerly the Humanist Party). To secure a parliamentary majority, the coalition government relied on the support of 18 parliamentary seats reserved for ethnic-minority representatives.

The government's narrow majority in Parliament led to calls for early elections. In July 2005 Prime Minister Popescu-Tăriceanu voiced plans to resign, prompting new elections; he then backtracked, noting his and the cabinet's need to focus on relief efforts for summer floods. During its first year the government was also tested by a successfully-resolved hostage crisis involving three Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq and avian influenza in several parts of the country, transmitted by wild birds migrating from Asia.

The government's overriding objective was the accession of Romania to the European Union, and on 1 January 2007 Romania became the 26th member of the EU. The government also maintained good relations with the U.S., signing an agreement in December 2005 which would allow U.S. troops to train and serve at several Romanian military facilities. Băsescu and Popescu-Tăriceanu pledged to combat high-level corruption and implement broader reform to modernize sectors such as the judicial system and health care.

On 19 April 2007, Parliament suspended President Băsescu on charges of unconstitutional conduct. The suspension, passed by a 322–108 vote, opened the way for a national referendum on impeachment[5] which failed.


Large demonstration, with many tricolor (vertical blue, gold and red) Romanian flags
The 2013 protests against the Roșia Montană Project turned into an anti-government social movement.

The November 2008 parliamentary elections were close, with the Social Democrats (PSD) winning 33.9 percent of the vote, President Traian Basescu's centrist Liberal Democrats (PDL) taking 32.34 percent, and the ruling National Liberals (PNL) receiving 18.6 percent.[6] The Liberal Democrats and Social Democrats formed a coalition after the election. Former prime minister Theodor Stolojan withdrew his candidacy for the premiership and President Basescu nominated Emil Boc, president of the Liberal Democrats, as prime minister.

With the onset of the Great Recession, the Romanian political scene saw tensions between the president and prime minister and between the general population and both. Tensions escalated with a 2012 political crisis and another attempt to impeach President Băsescu. In the referendum, more than 7.4 million people (nearly 90 percent) supported Băsescu's removal from office. However, the Constitutional Court invalidated the referendum because the majority of the population did not vote (the voter turnout was 46%); Băsescu had called the referendum a coup d'état, and asked the public to boycott it. All these events have been heavily criticized by international political figures.

The legislative elections of 9 December 2012 were seen by the public as an opportunity for change and to oust Băsescu. The Social Liberal Union received a large majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (60.07 and 58.61 percent of the vote, respectively) and a record 395 seats. The new prime minister, Victor Ponta, quickly formed a government but the failure to adopt reforms quickly triggered a wave of protests against a government seen as not fulfilling the promises of the 2012 electoral campaign. Two other projects of national interest (shale drilling and the Roșia Montană mining project) unleashed more protests. The demonstrations, initially ecological in focus, became anti-government protests.

Participation in international organizations

Romania participates in the following international organisations:

ACCT, BIS, BSEC, CE, CEI, CPLP (associate member), EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EEA, EU, FAO, Francophonie. G-9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), Latin Union, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SECI, SEECP, SPSEE, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO, Zangger Committee

See also


Further reading

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