Local Government

Romania Table of Contents

Local government bodies, known as people's councils, existed on the judet, town, and commune level. The 1965 Constitution had also provided for subunits of state administration on regional and district levels, but a territorial-administrative reorganization voted by the GNA in 1968 replaced the 16 regions and 150 intermediate districts with a system of 39 judete and 44 independent municipal administrations. Judet lines in the southeastern part of the country were subsequently redrawn, creating a fortieth judet; the municipality of Bucharest, which had judet status; and a surrounding agricultural district.

In addition to the establishment of judet and municipal people's councils, local councils were also set up in 142 smaller towns, and communal councils were formed in rural areas. A number of smaller communes were combined in order to give them a larger population base. Boundaries of each judet were drawn to include about fifty communes consisting of 4,000 to 5,000 persons each.

Along with the territorial reorganization, the decision was also made to combine party and government functions on the judet level so that the same person acted both as party committee first secretary and as people's council chairman. In explaining this fusion of party and state authority, Ceausescu stated that there were many instances in which offices in both the party and the government dealt with the same area of interest, a practice that resulted in inefficiency and unnecessary duplication of party and state machinery. Despite fusion of party and government functions, however, the bureaucratic structure on all government levels continued to expand.

According to the Constitution and the 1968 Law on the Organization and Operation of People's Councils, the people's councils were responsible for the implementation of central government decisions and for the economic, social, and cultural administration of their particular jurisdictions. Deputies to the people's councils were elected for five-year terms, except for the communes and municipal towns, where the term was two-and-one-half years.

Organized to facilitate highly centralized control, the people's councils functioned under the general supervision of the GNA or, between assembly sessions, under the direction of the State Council. The Law on the Organization and Operation of People's Councils specifically placed the people's councils under the overall guidance of the PCR.

Each people's council had an executive committee as its chief administrative organ and a number of permanent committees with specific responsibilities. The executive committee, consisting of a chairman, two or more deputy chairmen, and an unspecified number of other members, functioned for the duration of the council's term of office. Each executive committee also had a secretary, who was appointed with the approval of the next-higher-ranking council and was considered an employee of the central government. The chairman of an executive committee in a city, town, or commune served as the mayor of that unit. The executive committee was responsible to the people's council that elected it and to the executive committee of the next higher council.

The executive committee implemented laws, decrees, and decisions of the central government; carried out decisions made by the people's council; worked out the local budget; and drafted the local economic plan. It was also charged with directing and controlling the economic enterprises within its area of jurisdiction and with supervising the executive committees of inferior councils. The executive committee was also responsible for the organization and functioning of public services, educational institutions, medical programs, and the militia.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress