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Grand National Assembly

The Grand National Assembly was nominally the supreme organ of state power and supervised and controlled the functions of all other state organs. It consisted of 369 deputies elected by universal adult suffrage from an equal number of electoral districts for a five-year term of office. In accordance with a 1974 constitutional amendment, the GNA met in regular session twice a year, and special sessions could be called by the State Council, the Bureau of the GNA, or, in theory, by one-third of the total number of deputies. If circumstances prevented the holding of elections, the GNA was empowered to extend its term of office for as long as necessary.

The GNA had the constitutional authority to elect, supervise, and recall the president of the republic, the State Council, the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court, and the attorney general. The GNA had ultimate authority for regulating the electoral system, debating and approving the national economic plan and the state budget, and overseeing the organization and functioning of the people's councils.

The GNA was empowered to establish the general line of the country's foreign policy and had ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of public order and national defense. The Constitution gave it the authority to declare war, but only in the event of aggression against Romania or an ally with which Romania had a mutual-defense treaty. A state of war could also be declared by the State Council.

Other GNA powers included adopting and amending the Constitution and controlling its implementation. Empowered to interpret the Constitution and to determine the constitutionality of laws, the GNA was in effect its own constitutional court. To exercise its authority as interpreter of laws, the GNA elected the Constitution and Legal Affairs Commission, which functioned for the duration of a legislative term. The 1965 Constitution specified that up to one-third of the commission members could be persons who were not GNA deputies. The 1974 amended text, however, omitted this provision. The primary duty of the commission was to provide the assembly with reports and opinions on constitutional questions.

The GNA elected a chairman to preside over sessions and direct activities. The chairman and four elected vice chairmen, who formed the Bureau of the GNA, were assisted in their duties by a panel of six executive secretaries. In addition to the Constitution and Legal Affairs Commission, there were eight other GNA standing commissions: the Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Administration Commission; the Credentials Commission; the Defense Problems Commission; the Education, Science, and Culture Commission; the Foreign Policy and International Economic Cooperation Commission; the Health, Labor, Social Welfare, and Environmental Protection Commission; the Industry and Economic and Financial Activity Commission; and the People's Councils and State Administration Commission. Their functions and responsibilities were substantially increased during the 1970s and 1980s. Reports, bills, or other legislative matters were submitted to the standing commissions by the GNA chairman for study and for recommendations on further action.

To conduct business, the GNA required a quorum of one-half of the deputies plus one. Laws and decisions were adopted by simple majority vote with the exception of an amendment to the Constitution, which required a two-thirds majority of the full assembly. Laws were signed by the president of the republic and published within ten days after adoption.

Until the early 1970s, election to the GNA and to the organs of local government was based on the Soviet model, with one candidate for each seat. A 1972 decree stated that thereafter more than one candidate could be nominated for a deputy seat in the GNA or in the people's councils. In 1975, of 349 seats in the GNA, 139 were open to "multiple candidacy," and in 1980 the ratio was even higher--190 of 369. A total of 594 candidates were nominated by the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front for the 369 GNA seats in the 1985 election. But the front emphasized that the introduction of multiple candidacies was never intended to offer the electorate a choice of political platforms.

Data as of July 1989

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