Geography - note: controls most easily traversable land route between the
Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine
The constitution declares Romania to be a parliamentary republic and
provides for multiple political parties, a separation of powers between branches
of government, a market economy and respect for human rights.
The president of Romania is elected by direct, popular vote for a maximum
of two four-year terms. He or she represents the country in matters of foreign
affairs and is the commander of the armed forces. According to the 1991
constitution, the president may not belong to any political party.
The president appoints a prime minister to head the government; the prime
minister is generally the leader of the party with the majority of seats in
parliament. The prime minister is responsible for selecting a cabinet to help
carry out the operations of government.
Romania has a bicameral (two-chamber) parliament called the National
Assembly. Its lower house, called the Chamber of Deputies, maintains 343 seats,
of which 15 are reserved for ethnic minorities; the upper house, or Senate, has
143 seats. Members of both houses of parliament are elected for four-year terms,
according to a modified system of proportional representation.
The Supreme Court is Romania's highest judicial authority. Its members
are appointed by the president at the proposal of the Superior Council of
Magistrates. In each of Romania's 40 counties and in the special district of
Bucharest there is a county court and several lower courts, or courts of first
instance. The country also has 15 circuits of appellate courts, in which appeals
against sentences passed by local courts are heard; there is a right of appeal
from the appellate courts to the Supreme Court. Romania has a Constitutional
Court, charged with ensuring a balance of power among the organs of government.
The procurator-general is the highest judicial official in Romania, and is
responsible to the National Assembly, which appoints him or her for a four-year
term. The death penalty was abolished in December 1989 and is forbidden by the