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ParliamentaryElection2020 / Evolution of voting system in Romania in parliamentary elections after 1989

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In the Romanian parliamentary elections after 1989, two voting systems were applied: voting by list and distribution according to the principle of proportional representation (1990-2004 and 2016 elections) and mixed system, in which the vote was uninominal and the distribution of the mandates was of the proportional representation type (2008 and 2012 elections). With the exception of the first parliamentary elections after 1989, on May 20, 1990, when there was no electoral threshold condition, in all other elections there was such a condition for parties to have parliamentary representation, according to AGERPRES.

Thus, in the first legislative elections of May 20, 1990, the members of the bicameral parliament were elected by list ballot and proportional distribution of seats, without the existence of an electoral threshold. Regarding the independent candidacies, each such candidate had to be supported by at least 251 citizens with the right to vote (Decree-Law no. 92 of March 14, 1990 for the election of Parliament and the President of Romania).

Election by list entails that each party or electoral alliance draws up lists of candidates, depending on the party's score, the people ranking higher having more chances. The higher the percentage obtained by a party in elections, at national level, the more candidates on that party's list will have a chance to obtain a seat. The principle of proportional representation involves that the parliamentary seats are distributed proportionally to the percentage of votes obtained by the party in national elections, so that parliament reflects as much as possible the vote expressed by citizens, according to the volume "Electoral Law" (Gheorghe Iancu , CH Beck Publishing, 2012).

In the parliamentary elections of September 27, 1992, the election by list and seat distribution based on parliamentary representation were maintained, but an electoral threshold of 3 pct of the total votes cast at national level was also introduced. The electoral threshold represents the minimum required number of valid votes cast at the national level for the parliamentary representation of the parties. In the case of electoral coalitions, a percentage of the total valid votes cast across the country for each member of the coalition was added to the 3 pct threshold, starting with the second party or political party, without exceeding 8%, though. The representation quota set by the legislation for the 1992 election was one deputy per 70,000 inhabitants and one senator per 160,000 inhabitants (Law no. 68/1992 for the election of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate).

The following election, of November 3, 1996, was broadly conducted according to the same rules as in 1992, maintaining the same voting system, the same electoral threshold and the same representation quota (Law no. 68/1992 for the election of Chamber of Deputies and the Senate).

The parliamentary elections of 26 November 2000 also maintained the voting by and proportional representation system, as well as the representation quota, but increased the electoral threshold to 5 pct for parties and established a special one for coalitions, of a minimum of 8 pct and a maximum of 10 pct (Law no. 68/1992 amended by Law no. 115/1996 for the 1996 elections and emergency ordinances no. 63/2000, no. 129/2000 and no. 154/2000 for the 2000 elections).

In 2004, the elections for the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies took place in a new constitutional framework, marked by the revision of the Constitution in 2003, being the last time when the parliamentary elections took place at the same time with the presidential elections. According to the Constitution of 2003, the presidential elections would take place once every five years, while the parliamentary elections would take place every four years. The voting system, the electoral threshold and the representation norm remained unamended.

As a first after 1989, in the elections of November 30, 2008 the voting system changed. Thus, the electoral system specific for these elections, which was applied to the elections of December 9, 2012 as well, was a mixed one, featuring both first-past-the-post voting, but maintaining a proportional representation of mandates as well. In other words, although persons were voted for, the proportionality of party representation in the legislative was kept. Thus, each party would have in Parliament a number of representatives according to the percentages obtained at the level of the entire country, according to Law no. 35/2008 regarding the elections for the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, says the "Electoral Law" volume.

The elections of December 11, 2016 also brought with them significant changes, by the fact that there was a return to the list-type electoral system and proportional representation. Another legislative novelty in this poll is the amending of the representation norm, from one deputy to 70,000 citizens, as the old legal provision said, to one deputy to 73,000 citizens. In the Senate, the representation norm was increased from one senator to 160,000 citizens, to one senator for every 163,000 citizens. Although the electoral threshold remained unchanged, according to Law no. 208/2015, it can be calculated in two ways: either by comparing vote totals to the threshold of 5 pct of votes expressed at the national level, or through achieving 20 pct of the valid votes expressed in at least four electoral circumscriptions for all electoral competitors.

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