What is the Constitution of Romania?

The Constitution of Romania is the fundamental law of the Romanian state that regulates, among other things, the general principles of state organization, the fundamental rights, freedoms and duties of citizens and fundamental public authorities. Considering the enduring, general and stable nature of constitutions, they are the most important laws of a country.

What is the origin of the word ”constitution”?

From an etymological point of view, the word “constitution” comes from the Latin noun constitution, which meant disposition, order. In the Roman legal system, the Constitution meant the edict signed by the emperor that included decisions of a general nature regarding various fields of activity and whose legal force was superior to the other legal acts adopted by the public authorities of the empire, which also shows the importance of historical research of the evolution of the Romanian people for the good and correct understanding of the current Romanian legal institutions.

When we celebrate it?

Our country marks, annually, on December 8, the Romanian Constitution Day, established by Law no. 120 of December 8, 1995.

The current Constitution of Romania was adopted in the meeting of the Constituent Assembly on November 21, 1991 and entered into force following its approval by the national referendum of December 8, 1991 and was revised in 2003 by the adoption of the Law on the revision of the Constitution of Romania, approved by the national referendum from October 1819, 2003, law entered into force on October 29, 2003, the date of publication in the Official Gazette of Romania. At the same time, until this moment, some authors distinguish several significant stages in the process of the constitutional development of Romania, respectively:

The pre-constitutional period (1740-1860)

  • it is characterized by the presence of several constitutional common laws that regulated the fundamental relations of the exercise of power. Also, there were legal documents constituted in foundation acts of the Romanian Principalities, respectively: Constitution of Prince Mavrocordat (February 7, 1941), Supplex Libellus Valachorum from 1792; The Constitution of “Cărvunarilor” from 1822; The Organic Regulation of Wallachia from 1831; Organic Regulation of Moldova from 1832; The Draft Constitution elaborated by Ion Câmpineanu in 1838; The Draft Constitution for Moldova elaborated by Mihail Kogălniceanu in 1848.

The period of the formation of the modern Romanian state (1860‑1940)

  • takes into account the strong influence of European constitutional systems, especially France and Belgium.

The period after the Second World War

  • it was without a constitution, and governance was based on constitutional acts.

The period of socialist constitutions (1948‑1989)

  • it is based on strong ideological influences of socialist origin. Its characteristics were:
  • Abandoning the principle of separation of powers in the state and replacing this principle with that of the unity of power.
  • Replacing multi-parties with a single party (Communist Party) that held the monopoly of all state power.
  • The replacement of the market economy based on free competition with the planned and centralized one, monopoly of the state.
  • The consecration and guarantee of fundamental rights was just formal.
  • Granting increased powers to prosecutors, to the detriment of judges.

The period of constitutional acts (1989‑1991)

  •  it is characterized by the existence of several constitutional acts, which were in the transition period of the Romanian society from a totalitarian system to a democratic one.

In the history of our country, the Constitution has been modified no less than 8 times, but we find legislative concerns even from the time of the feudal rulers.

Some authors believe that the first Constitution of Romania, even if it did not have this name, was constituted by the Organic Regulations (1831-1834). These represented an old initiative, also tried by ruler Grigore Ghica, but perfected under the influence of the Russians, of the Court of Petersburg, by two drafting commissions under the presidency of the Russian consul general Minciaki.

Although they cannot be considered a Constitution in its concrete sense, given the drafting procedure and the Russian influence on the contained regulations, the Regulations reflected in their contents a separation of powers in the state, as follows: the ruler holds the executive power, the Public Assembly on the legislative and the judicial system acquires new values ​​through the establishment of county courts, appeals courts, the corpus of lawyers and prosecutors.

As the Organic Regulations did not have the status of a Constitution, there are opinions that the Developing Statute of the Paris Convention could be considered as a Constitution of Romania, but it is not properly a constitution, but an act with constitutional value, since, on the one on the one hand, considering the procedure for its elaboration, and on the other hand, due to the insufficiency of the regulations regarding ensuring the functioning of a system based on a framework law, as is the case with a fundamental law.

This law includes 18 articles. According to its contents, the initiative of the laws belongs only to the ruler, who exercises the legislative power together with the Elective and the Weighted Assembly. The latter is composed of 64 members, half of them being appointed by the ruler. A draft law rejected by the Elective Assembly can only be submitted to its debates in another session. Regarding this aspect, there is similarity with the current constitutional provisions, a rejected draft law reaches the working table of the Parliament’s chambers, at the earliest in the next session.

Another argument in support of considering the respective Statute as a Constitution is contained in Article 17 which says “all civil servants, without exception, upon their entry into office, are obliged to swear obedience to the Constitution and the laws of the land and loyalty to the Ruler”. Practically, the statute represents an attempt by ruler Cuza to create a fundamental law in accordance with the national will, but also with the suzerainty situation of the Principalities.

Amalia Micsodan

Legal Intern R&R Partners Bucharest

If you would like to address more questions or if you need a legal consultation, you can contact us at office@rrpb.ro or by accessing our site www.rrpb.ro for more information.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel where new and updated content is posted monthly on various current topics!

Keep up to date with our latest articles!