The Romanian Constitution was modified in 2003, in particular to take into account the modalities concerning the integration of the country into the European Union and NATO, as well as the legislative procedure by designating the first chamber referred to, according to the subject of the text, suppressing the intermediation procedure between the two chambers, and establishing a last word procedure used by either chamber.
I - COMPOSITION
143 senators elected by direct universal suffrage.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
42 plurinominal constituencies which elect between two and 13 senators (there is one senator per 160,000 inhabitants).
Proportional list system.
The lists must obtain at least 3% of the vote in order to be represented (more for coalitions, but not greater than 8%).
Age at which allowed to stand for election: 35.
Compatibility: Senators can also be members of the Government.
Term of office: 5 years.
Last renewal: November 28th 2004.
III - SESSIONS SYSTEM
A - ORDINARY SESSIONS
Two ordinary sessions per year:
- The first from February to June,
- The second from September to December.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
- On request by the Romanian President,
From the permanent Office of each chamber,
By at least one third of deputies or senators.
C - SESSIONS AS OF RIGHT
- within 24 hours after the triggering of an armed aggression;
- within 24 hours after a declaration of war or a mobilization;
- within 48 hours after establishing a state of siege or emergency.
IV - RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER
1) Legislative initiative
Senators have joint legislative initiative with the Government, the deputies and at least 100,000 citizens entitled to vote and belonging to at least ¼ of the country's counties (5,000 signatures shall be collected in each county as well as in the town of Bucharest) (the citizens have no initiative concerning budgetary and international legislation, amnesties and pardons).
2) Right to amendment
3) Legislative procedure
a) Submission of drafts
Are first submitted to the Chamber of Deputies: drafts and private member's bills designed to ratify treaties and international agreements, legislative measures resulting from their implementation, organic draft bills concerning the radio-TV public service, the Advocate of the People, the legislative Council, the creation of independent administration bodies, incompatibilities regarding members of the Government, electoral, defence or jurisdictional provisions, military obligations. Other drafts or private member's bills shall be submitted to the Senate in the first place.
b) Shuttle procedure
The first chamber informed in the matter shall decide within 45 days. This deadline shall be extended to 60 days for some complex texts. When the deadline is over, the text is considered as adopted.
The texts adopted shall be sent to the other chamber. When the second chamber which has been referred to amends the text, the modified provisions shall be sent back to the first chamber, which then shall decide definitively in an emergency procedure.
Organic laws shall be adopted by the majority of the members in each chamber, and ordinary laws by the majority of present members.
c) Promulgation and new debate
The President of Romania shall promulgate the bill within 20 days after its reception.
Before promulgation, the President may ask once to the Parliament to re-examine the bill.
The promulgation deadline shall then be reduced to 10 days.
d) Competence of the Legislative Council
The Legislative Council is an advisory body of the Parliament. It provides advice on draft normative acts in order to harmonize, unify and coordinate the legislation.
It keeps the official register of the Romanian legislation.
4) Enabling legislation
a) Ordinary law only
Ordinances become null and void if they have not been ratified by the Parliament within the fixed deadline, in the case the empowering statute would request it.
b) Expeditious ordinances
The Government may adopt expeditious ordinances with a specific motive, for extraordinary situations only in which the rules cannot be suspended.
Expeditious ordinances shall come into force only it was brought in Parliament. If the Chambers are not sitting, they must be convened within 5 days after it has been tabled or sent. If the Chamber informed in the matter does not take a decision on the ordinance within a maximum period of 30 days after it has been tabled, this one is considered as adopted and is sent to the other chamber which shall also decide through an emergency procedure. Expeditious ordinances which contain norms such as in organic laws shall be approved by a majority of deputies and senators.
Expeditious ordinances cannot be adopted regarding constitutional laws, and cannot be detrimental to the State fundamental institutions system, to the rights, liberties and duties provided by the Constitution, to the electoral rights, nor be aimed at measures of seizure of some public properties.
5) Specific provisions regarding the budget
If the Parliament has not yet adopted the State and welfare budget at least 3 days before the end of the fiscal year, the previous year's budgets shall be implemented until their adoption.
B - CONTROLLING POWER
1) Power to create select committees
2) Investiture of the Government
By a vote of confidence - in a joint session with the Chamber of Deputies- in the programme and the composition of the Government, on request from the candidate for the function of Prime Minister, within ten days of that person being designated.
If Parliament twice refuses the confidence vote within 60 days, Parliament can be dissolved by the President of Romania. This right cannot be exercised more than once per year, and cannot operate during a state of siege or a state of emergency nor during the last six months of the term of office of the President of Romania.
3) Responsibility of the Government before Parliament
a) The Government can declare its responsibility before a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on its programme, a declaration of general policy, or a bill.
A motion of censure can be deposited within three days. If it is adopted, the government is stripped of its functions. If the motion is rejected, the bill presented is considered as having been adopted and the programme or the declaration becomes compulsory for the government.
b) A motion of censure can be adopted by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate in a joint session.
The motion has to be presented by at least a quarter of the total number of deputies and senators.
4) Questions and interpellations can be formulated by the senators. The Government is obliged to respond.
The Senate can adopt a motion by which it expresses its position on the matter that was the subject of the interpellation.
5) Informing Parliament
a) The President of Romania shall inform the Parliament about the measures which will be taken in case of an armed aggression.
b) The government and the other branches of public administration are obliged to present information or documents requested by the Senate or its parliamentary committees through their presidents.
6) Monitoring implementation of the finance law
a) Right of the Senate to request that the Court of Audit verify the management of public resources and present a report on the matter.
b) The Court of Audit shall present the budget execution each year to the Parliament.
7) Intelligence services
During a joint session, both chambers shall supervise the activities of intelligence services.
8) European integration
a) The European Union membership of Romania depends on the adoption of a bill by the House of Deputies and the Senate, during a joint session, with a 2/3 majority of parliamentarians.
b) Information to the Parliament
The Government shall give to both chambers draft binding acts of the Community before their adoption by the Union institutions.
9) International treaties
The NATO membership of Romania depends on the adoption of a bill by the House of Deputies and the Senate, during a joint session, with a 2/3 majority of parliamentarians.
V - OTHER ARRANGEMENTS
A - CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
1) The initiative to revise the Constitution can be proposed by a minimum of a quarter of senators (or deputies, the Government and at least 500,000 citizens with the right to vote from at least half of the country's administrative departments and with 20,000 signatures at least recorded to support this application) to the President of Romania who begins the procedure.
2) The revision procedure
The Senate (as well as the Chamber of Deputies) must adopt the bill or the non-governmental bill for revision by a majority of at least two-thirds of senators.
If there is disagreement between the two chambers and the conciliation procedure fails, a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate takes a decision through a vote which must obtain at least a three-quarters majority of deputies and senators.
The revision is definitive after approval by referendum, which shall be organized within 30 days after the adoption of the draft or the reform bill.
B - REFERRAL TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT by the President of the Senate or at least 25 senators:
- To declare or not the constitutionality of laws before they are promulgated, or of Parliament's rulings.
C - THE PRESIDENTIAL FUNCTION
1) Impeachment of the President of Romania
The President (who takes an oath before a joint session of the two chambers after his election is confirmed) can be impeached for high treason by a vote of at least two-thirds of the total number of deputies and senators by a joint session of the two chambers on the initiative of the majority of parliamentarians.
2) Suspension of the President of Romania-If the President commits serious acts that violate the Constitution- by a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, after consulting the Constitutional Court on the proposal of at least 1/3 of deputies and senators (a referendum is then organised within a maximum of 30 days to relieve the President of his functions).
3) Interim for the President of Romania by the President of the Senate if the President is away, suspended or temporarily incapacitated.
4) The President communicates with the Parliament through messages.
D - CRIMINAL POWERS (with the Chamber of Deputies and the President of Romania) to request the bringing of criminal charges against members of the Government for acts committed while in office.
E - POWER IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES
Prior authorisation (unless in exceptional circumstances), in which cases the Parliament's assent shall be required within 5 days after its decision) from the Parliament for the partial or general mobilisation of the armed forces.
Approval -by the Parliament with a maximum of five days- of the state of siege or the state of emergency.
F - NOMINATIONS
1) Nomination by the Senate:
- Three of the nine judges of the Constitutional Court.
2) Nomination by the Parliament
- members of the Court of Audit for a 9 year term no renewable. 1/3 of the Court is re-elected every 3 years. Six members are revoked by the Parliament.
a) In joint session:
- the Advocate of the People,
- directors of Intelligence Services on the proposal of the President of Romania.
b) Election by the Senate:
- two members from the Superior Council of the Magistrature representing the civil society, and lawyers;
- validation by the Senate of the election of 14 members by general assemblies of judges.
G - CONSTITUTIONNALITY OVERSIGHT
1) The President of the Senate or at least 25 senators may intimate the Constitutional Court with regard to the constitutionality:
- of laws before their promulgation (in case of unconstitutionality, the Parliament must re-examine the provisions at issue);
- of international treaties and agreements;
- of assemblies Standing Orders.
2) The President of the Senate may intimate the Court with regard to legal constitutional conflicts between public authorities.