State Council of Romania
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The State Council was created in 1961 with an amendment to the 1952 Constitution, replacing the Presidium of the Great National Assembly. It consisted of a president, three vice presidents and thirteen members. By the end of the Communist era, it comprised a president, four vice presidents, a secretary and 15 members.
According to Article 63 of the 1965 Constitution, the State Council was "the supreme organ of state power in permanent session." It was elected by the GNA from among its members and held office for the GNA's duration--in practice, five years. As with all government bodies in Romania, it was nominally subordinate to the GNA. In practice, by 1989, all but two of its members were also members of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party and also held important party posts.
The State Council exercised two kinds of power. Among its permanent powers (defined in article 63 of the Constitution) were:
- Setting election dates
- Ratifying any treaty that didn't entail changing Romanian law (all treaties that amended laws could only be approved by the GNA)
- Organizing referenda
- Appointing and recalling the commander of the armed forces and the heads of state organs
- Granting citizenship, amnesty and asylum
- Representing the state in international relations
- Appointing diplomatic representatives
- Establishing military ranks
- Establishing decorations and honorary titles
Under article 64, the State Council also assumed certain prerogatives of the GNA when that body was not in session or in case of emergency. When the GNA was not in session, article 64 gave the State Council the right to set guidelines for the laws and supervise the local councils. It could also issue governmental regulations in lieu of law. If such regulation was not approved by the GNA at its next session, it was considered revoked. In exceptional circumstances, the State Council could also exercise control over the budget and economic plan, appoint and dismiss ministers and justices of the Supreme Court, mobilize the armed forces and declare war. In practice, the GNA's infrequent meetings (it only sat for twice a year) as well as the philosophy of democratic centralism meant that the State Council's decisions had the force of law.
The State Council's prerogatives were significantly reduced by amendments to the 1974 constitution. Most notably, its presidency was upgraded to a full-fledged executive post, the President of the Republic. He continued to serve as ex officio president of the State Council, and was empowered to act on any matter that didn't require a plenary session of that body. He also assumed several powers that had previously been vested in the State Council as a whole, including conducting international relations and appointing and dismissing ministers and the heads of central agencies. When the GNA was not in session, the president could appoint and dismiss the president of the Supreme Court and the prosecutor general without State Council approval; indeed, under the 1974 amendments the president was not even required to consult his State Council colleagues when making such decisions. The State Council also lost the right to grant citizenship and asylum and to appoint the supreme commander of the armed forces. It also lost the right to grant amnesty when the GNA was in session.
In practice, after 1974 the State Council was largely emasculated by Nicolae Ceaușescu, who served as both leader of the Communist Party and President of the Republic. By using his power to assume State Council functions that didn't require a formal plenum, he frequently ruled by decree. He also usurped many of the State Council's powers, including the power to grant citizenship and asylum. However, his control over the country was so absolute that no one dared object.
Presidents of the State Council
|No.||Name||Portrait||Born–Died||Took office||Left office||Party|
|1||Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej||1901–1965||21 March 1961||19 March 1965||PMR/PCR|
|2||Chivu Stoica||1908–1975||24 March 1965||9 December 1967||PCR|
|3||Nicolae Ceaușescu||1918–1989||9 December 1967||22 December 1989||PCR|