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Council of Ministers

Defined in the Constitution as the supreme body of state administration, the Council of Ministers exercised control over the activities of all state agencies on both the national and local levels. Although the size and composition of the Council of Ministers fluctuated, its basic elements were the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the ministers, and the heads of certain other important government agencies. Unlike the 1952 constitution, which listed twenty-six specific ministries, the 1965 version fixed neither the number of ministries nor their particular areas of competence.

In 1989 the Council of Ministers had sixty-one members including the prime minister, three first deputy prime ministers, six deputy prime ministers, twenty-eight ministers, and twenty-four committee chiefs or state secretaries with ministerial rank. Elena Ceausescu held two positions in the council--first deputy prime minister and chairman of the National Council for Science and Technology. All but one of the members of the council were also members or candidate members of the PCR Central Committee, and the nine first deputies or deputies were members or candidate members of the PCR Political Executive Committee, usually known as Polexco (see Glossary).

The Constitution gave the Council of Ministers responsibility for the general implementation of the nation's domestic and foreign polices, the enforcement of laws, and the maintenance of public order. As the supreme governmental body, the council coordinated and controlled the activities of the ministries and other state organs at all levels. The council directed economic matters by drafting the Unitary National Socioeconomic Plan and state budget and providing for their implementation. In addition it directed the establishment of economic enterprises and other industrial and commercial organizations.

The council's responsibilities also included the general administration of relations with other states and the conclusion of international agreements. Its prerogatives in the area of defense, however, were diminished by the 1974 constitutional amendments. The council's right to act for the general organization of the armed forces was replaced by the provision that it could take measures in that area only "according to the decision of the Defense Council."

Formally elected by the GNA at the beginning of each new assembly session, the council's term of office continued until the election of a new council by the succeeding assembly. Both collectively and individually, the council members were responsible to the GNA or--between sessions--to the State Council. The Constitution asserted that the Council of Ministers was to operate on the principle of collective leadership to ensure the unity of its political and administrative actions.

After the promulgation of the 1965 Constitution and especially after Ceausescu was elected president of the republic in 1974, the Council of Ministers underwent numerous reorganizations. The number of ministries almost doubled. Several of them, for example, the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum, and Geology, were repeatedly split and merged. Some of the departments in separate ministries were combined to form new ministries or central organizations. In 1989 Romania had the largest number of ministries and central organizations of any East European state.

Agency reshuffling and the reassignment or dismissal of large numbers of officials plagued the ministries. Between March 1985 and the beginning of 1988, there were over twenty government reorganizations affecting such key functions as defense, finance, foreign trade, and foreign affairs. In 1984, at least twelve ministers were removed. The following year, the ministers of foreign affairs and national defense were replaced, and in 1986 the ministers of foreign affairs, foreign trade, and finance lost their positions following criticism from high-level PCR officials for trade shortfalls. In 1987, in the largest government reshuffle to date, eighteen ministers were dismissed over a four-week period, and some were expelled from the party.

Data as of July 1989

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