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The State Council

The Constitution stipulated that the State Council was the supreme body of state power in permanent session, and that it assumed certain GNA powers when that body was out of session. As of mid-1989, the State Council consisted of the president of the State Council, four vice presidents, a secretary to the president, and fifteen members. At its first session, the newly elected GNA selected the State Council from its own membership. The council remained in office until another was elected by the succeeding GNA. Although the president of the State Council was simultaneously the president of the republic, the Constitution dictated that the council was to function on the principle of collective leadership. In 1989 all but two members of the State Council were also members of the PCR Central Committee and held other important party posts.

Amendments to the Constitution adopted in 1974 reduced the scope of the power of the State Council power in favor of the power of the president. In this connection, Article 63 listed only five permanent powers for the State Council, as opposed to eleven in the 1965 Constitution. Among the powers that were deleted were appointing and recalling the supreme commander of the armed forces; representing the republic in international relations; granting citizenship, amnesty, and asylum; and appointing and recalling diplomatic representatives.

Other permanent powers of the State Council were establishing election dates; ratifying or rejecting international treaties (except for those whose ratification or rejection was within the purview of the GNA); and establishing decorations and honorary titles. The provision in the 1965 text of the Constitution giving the State Council the right to appoint and recall the heads of central bodies of state administration (excluding the Council of Ministers) was replaced with the nebulous stipulation that the State Council "organizes the ministries and other central state bodies," another limitation of its prerogatives.

GNA powers that devolved to the State Council between assembly sessions or when exceptional circumstances prevented the GNA from acting included the authority to appoint and recall members of the Council of Ministers and members of the Supreme Court. The right to appoint or recall the prosecutor general was omitted in the 1974 amended Constitution. The State Council could also assume powers to establish legal norms, to control the application of laws and decisions passed by the GNA, and to supervise the Council of Ministers, the ministries and the other central bodies of state administration as well as the activities of the people's councils. In the event of a national emergency, the State Council could also exercise the GNA's power to declare a state of war.

In December 1967, the GNA elected PCR General Secretary Ceausescu president of the State Council, thereby making him head of state. The rationale for concentrating party and government power in Ceausescu's hands was to provide unitary leadership and thereby improve efficiency and ensure full party control at the highest level of government. The decision to unite the two posts, as well as to combine a number of party and government positions on lower administrative levels, had been taken at a national party conference. Outside observers saw the move as one of a series of steps designed to ensure the continued subordination of both the party and the state apparatus to Ceausescu's personal power.

Data as of July 1989