Political Development in Eastern Europe

By Gabriel Almond; Jan F. Triska et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
PARTICIPATORY REFORMS AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT IN ROMANIA

Mary Ellen Fischer

Until 1975 elections to state organs in Romania -- the Grand National Assembly (GNA) and local people's councils-followed a procedure typical in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since World War II: One candidate for each office was nominated by the Socialist Unity Front and then elected by an overwhelming majority of the voters. In 1971 Ceausescu indicated that the electoral procedures should be improved to ensure "heightened responsibility" of candidates toward the masses.1 The first national elections after he made this suggestion were held in March 1975 and indeed almost 40 percent of the candidates for the GNA and 76 percent of all candidates were opposed in these elections.2

The purpose of this essay is twofold: First, to describe briefly the political reforms in Romania since 1965, and second, in the context of these reforms, to examine in as much detail as possible the first multi-candidate electionswhich candidates were faced by opponents, the occupations of these candidates, the nomination and election procedures, and the results of the voting. Unfortunately, the number of votes received by each candidate remains confidential; only the total votes cast and the names of the winners have been published (see Tables 8.1 and 8.2). Nevertheless, the available information reveals a great deal about the concept of multi-candidate elections as perceived in Romania. The published data have been supplemented by interviews with election officials and informal discussions with Romanian citizens, both before and after the elections.


CEAUSESCU'S REFORMS

The introduction of multi-candidate elections in Romania must be analyzed in the context of other political reforms in the last decade under

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