Parliamentary oversight in romania, a guarantee of achieving separation of powers in the state

Author:Silvia Mihalcea
Position:Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Law, 'Nicolae Titulescu' University, Bucharest; Lawyer
Pages:149-165
Silvia Mihalcea
149
LESIJ NO. XIX, VOL. 2/2012
PARLIAMENTARY OVERSIGHT IN ROMANIA, A GUARANTEE
OF ACHIEVING SEPARATION OF POWERS IN THE STATE
Silvia MIHALCEA
Abstract
This paper focuses on the dimension of the relationships between the Parliament and other
state institutions in Romania (Government, chief of state, public administration authorities) from the
point of view of the parliamentary oversight. The reason and the necessity of the parliamentary
oversight comes naturally from the existence of the democratic principle of representation: using the
mandate entrusted by the people in the electoral elections, the members of the Parliament are
entitled and, in the first place, have the obligation to verify the public affairs related to the
safeguarding of the national interest and achievement of the well being. This mechanism is a flexible
one and involves collaboration, cooperation, balance and thus, it appears as the strongest form in
accomplishing the separation of powers in the state. The paper approaches the early developments
and the evolution of the parliamentary oversight, the wide range of tools used by the Parliament to
carry out this function (procedures and forms) according to the stipulations of the Constitution, laws
and European Treaties and emphasizes the role of the parliamentary practice in this field. The study
also puts forward a series of detailed recommendations aiming to improve the quality of this act. A
new element is the parliamentary oversight in the field of European affairs, introduced by the
implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, which consolidates the role of the national assemblies in order
for them to become important actors in the European constru ction by their active involvement in the
decision making.
Keywords: Parliament, parliamentary oversight, separation of powers, state, Constitution
Introduction
The people are the sole holders of the power, which is exercised by the state through its
institutions. A division1 of the powers occurs and we distinguish between the legislative power, the
executive power and the judicial power. The importance of this segmentation brings a balance, each
power has control instruments on the others, limiting and preventing the power seizure and thus,
avoiding abuses.
The parliamentary institution has remote origins, being recorded in Island in 1930 for the first
time, when it was founded and when the first national forum met under the name of Althing; in
Romania, the parliamentary history started in 1831 along with the Organic Regulations, in 1831 in
Wallachia and in 1832 in Moldavia.
The mission assigned to the parliament is very much connected to its functions, namely to
provide the citizens’ needs according to the mandate received from them. One of these functions is
the parliamentary oversight (control), which represents a democratic mechanism for ensuring that
necessary balance between the powers in the state in order to prevent the seizing of the . Using
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Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Law, “Nicolae Titulescu” University, Bucharest; Lawyer (e-mail:
scmihalcea@gmail.com).
1 Nicolae Popa, General Law Theory, (C.H.Beck Publishing House, Bucharest, 2008), p. 80
150 Lex ET Scientia. Juridical Series
LESIJ NO. XIX, VOL. 2/2012
specific means, the legislative authority exercises influence on the Government and the public
administration, but also on chief of state, pursuing the general interests of the society.
Even if there are very clear and precise provisions in the Romanian Constitution and other
laws, in practice things are very often different and this study aims to underline these aspects taking
into account the latest approaches and developments, identifying the slippages also targeting to put
forward proposals for future amendments of the actual legislation.
1. Evolution of the parliamentary oversight concept
The Parliament, „the supreme representative body of the Romanian people and the sole
legislative authority of the country”2, is composed of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, elected by
universal, equal, direct, secret and freely expressed vote according to the electoral rules, each of them
having different duties.
Professor Ioan Muraru identifies six tasks for the Parliament3:
a) adoption of laws;
b) establishment of the socio-economic, cultural, state and legal guidelines;
c) election, appointment or removal of some state authorities;
d) parliamentary oversight;
e) executive board in foreign politics;
f) own organization and operation.
The occurrence of the parliamentary control concept was born long time before the
development of modern political parties. Etymologically, the word control comes from the old
French, contreroller, undertaken from the mediaeval Latin word contrarotulare (to check by
registering in a second register). In English, scrutiny is used for defining this concept, undertaken
also from the French word scrutin, which comes from the Latin word scrutinium – exam and the verb
scrutari – to search, to look over.
Adopted by the French National Assembly on the 26th of August 1798, the Bill of Human
Rights and Citizens set at the art. 14 and 154 the principle of the governors’ accountability to people,
principle developed subsequently by the French Constitution from 1791, Title III About public
powers: „ministers are liable for all the crimes perpetrated by them against national security and
Constitution 5
meanwhile the regulatory power has the authority to prosecute ministers and main
agents of the executive body before the High National Court.
In our country, as well as in the other European ones, the transparency of the scrutiny
(parliamentary control concept) can’t have its origins but in the constitutional provisions, proceeding
from the competencies assigned to the state institutions and their inter-relations on the state power
separation-based principle.
Once the state power separation principle has been established in the Constitution, we can
analyze the existence, size and forms of the parliamentary control within that period of time.
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2 Art. 61 of the Romanian Constitution
3 Ioan Muraru, Simina Tnsescu, Constitutional Law and Politica l Institutions, C.H.Beck Publishing House,
Bucharest, 2009, p 154
4 The citizens have the right to find out by themselves or by their representatives, the necessity of the public
contribution and to willingly accept it, to follow its destination, to establish its quantum, bases, perception and time.
The society has the right to take a public officer to task for the way he/she meet his/her duties.
5 http://sourcebook.fsc.edu/history/constitutionof1791.html

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