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THE HISTORY OF THE ROMANIAN SYSTEM OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION OF THE ROYAL DICTATORSHIP AND THE NATIONALITY QUESTION

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The goal of the present study is to explore a unique system of public administration that was carried out during the dictatorship of Charles II in Romania between the two World Wars. In a paradoxical manner, the only effort to solve the nationality
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  235 Abstract The goal of the present study is to explore a unique system of public administration that was carried out during the dictatorship of Charles IIin Romania between the two World Wars. In a paradoxical manner, the only effort to solve the nationality question through legislation took place under his royal dictatorship. In 1938, the government published its three-part collection of  laws, known as the Minority Statute, which de fi ned the rights of minorities. The Minority Statute was intended primarily for foreign publication, and it was addressed more toward a foreign audience,which is also illustrated by the fact that it was onlypublished in the of  fi cial newspaper, and censors had prohibited it from being published in either  the majority or the minority press. Among thecircumstances surrounding the creation of the Minority Statute, it is interesting to note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs played the largest rolein its drafting process. THE HISTORY OF THEROMANIAN SYSTEM OF PUBLICADMINISTRATION. THE PUBLICADMINISTRATION OF THE ROYALDICTATORSHIP ANDTHE NATIONALITY QUESTION Zsolt SZÉKELY Zsolt SZÉKELY Lecturer, College of Public AdministrationSt. George, Public Administration Department, Faculty of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences,Babe ş -Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, RomaniaTel.: 0040-267-315270Email: szekelyzs@yahoo.com Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences,27E/2009 pp. 235-249   236 1.1. Introduction In 1937, a far-reaching process of change started taking place, as the fl edgling Romanian democracy was replaced with the royal dictatorship. This new regime wasintroduced by King Charles II who, starting from the beginning of his rule (April 8,1930) had made a concerted e ff ort at introducing a system of authoritarian rule. His opportunity arrived a f er December 1937, when no political party reached the 40% minimum to form a cabinet. The king took advantage of this opportunity by askingthe National Christian Party, led by O. Goga and A.C. Cuza, which had come in thefourth place in the elections with 9.15%, to form a new government, rather than theNational Liberal Party that had won a plurality of the votes (Scurtu and Buzatu, 1999,pp. 333-334). Since the political forces of the new ruling party would not have adequate representation in the Parliament, a royal decree on January 18, 1938 dissolved the new Parliamentthat had not even assembled, and called for new elections in March. But the king didnot wait for these new March elections to take place. On February 10, 1938, Charles IIsaw that the time was ripe for establishing his authoritarian regime, and he dissolvedthe new Goga administration the same day. Not coincidentally, he chose the patriarchof the Romanian Orthodox Church, Miron Cristea, to form a new cabinet. This eventmarked the beginning of his personal rule and a series of actions and executive orderswhose goal was the strengthening of the royal authority. 1.2. The Constitution of 1938 Among the fi rst and most important steps toward royal authoritarianism was theabrogation of the Constitution of 1923 and the approval of a new law of the land. Thenew Constitution reserved a decisive authority to the royal power in every aspect of governance. The cabinet was appointed by the sovereign, and ministers reported solely to him. The Parliament became an absolute subordinate of executive power, since the king was only obligated to call it into session once a year, and could dissolve it athis discretion. According to the new Constitution, someone could be appointed to acabinet position only if he was at least a third-generation Romanian. This precluded the possibility of minorities being appointed to the cabinet position for minority a ff airs, established later (Nagy, 1944, pp. 32-38 and 70-75; Szász, 1938, pp. 66-76). Article 61 of the new Constitution, regarding the election of the legislature, should also be considered as a fi rst step toward establishing the new corporatist regime. As the article states, therepresentatives may be elected by “Romanian citizens with an occupation that is partof one of the following three categories: 1. agriculture and manual labor; 2. commerceand industry; 3. intellectual occupations” (Nagy, 1944, pp. 273). A legally binding royal decree was published on March 30, 1938 regarding thedissolution of all political associations, groups and parties (Ellenzék, 1 April 1938), followed by a decree ordering the con fi scation of all property previously owned by political parties (Ellenzék, 1 June 1938). According to these decrees, all political parties, including the National Hungarian Party, which had represented the interests of theHungarian minority since 1922, had to cease operations.  237 1.3. The Minority Statute In a paradoxical manner, the only a t empt to address the nationality question through the legislative process took place under the royal dictatorship. In 1938 the government released a collection of laws, consisting of three parts, later to be knownas the Minority Statute. The fi rst two parts of the Minority Statute placed the Bureauof Minority A ff airs 1  , previously working with the Ministry of Cults and the Arts, nextto the O ffi ce of the Prime Minister, and the o ffi ce was elevated to the status of a cabinetposition. The third part, comprised of 28 articles, was intended to solve educational,denominational, administrative, economic and cultural problems. The Minority Statute’s regulations concerning public administration and use of language were the following:“Article 12. The ethnic srcin or the linguistic and religious di ff erences of aRomanian citizen does not represent an obstacle for occupying state, county orlocal o ffi ces.Article 13. Any member of a minority in the local councils may express himselfin his native language at the council’s deliberations. The transcripts of thesecouncils’ sessions will be edited in Romanian.Article 14. Minority citizens who have not mastered the national language maypresent inquiries to the local administration in their native language. In this casethere will always be an o ffi cial Romanian translation a t ached to these documents.Article 15. O ffi cial correspondence is to be conducted in the national language.Article 16. The civil servants of the minority communities have to know thelanguage of the respective community.Article 17. In communities where Romanian citizens of di ff erent ethnic, linguisticor religious backgrounds represent a signi fi cant proportion of the community,the judge or its deputy is to be elected from these minorities” (Mikó, 1938, pp.177-192). The Minority Statute – as established earlier – was intended primarily for foreign publication, and was addressed more toward a foreign audience, which was also illustrated by the fact that it was only published in the official newspaper, and censors had prohibited it from being published in either the majority or the minoritypress. Among the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Minority Statute, itis interesting to note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs played the largest role in itsdrafting process (Nagy, 1944, pp. 38-40 ; 56-61). 1 The Romanian Bureau of Minority A ff airs was created in 1930, under the Maniuadministration, within the framework of the Ministry of Religious A ff airs. The Bureau wentthrough a number of changes and modi fi cations: during the Iorga administration (1931-1932)it was transformed into a State Secretariat, and later operated as the Agency for MinorityEducation. A number of people occupied leading positions within the Bureau of MinorityA ff airs until 1938, among them Zenobie P ă cle ş eanu, Brandsch Rudolf and Ş erban Mihai.  238 1.4. The One-Party State According to the Guild Act of October 12, 1938, in each province the laborers, privateo ffi cials and manufacturers were to associate in guilds. Obviously, in the introduction of the guild system, the King was in fl uenced by the Italian corporatist system. However,the general dra f of the Guild Act, which was debated in the Parliament only duringthe following summer and that failed to be put into e ff ect before the end of the royaldictatorship, in many ways di ff ered from the Italian model.The legal decree, published on December 16, 1938, which established the country’sonly political organization, the Front of National Rebirth ( Frontul Rena ş terii Na ţ ionale  in Romanian), represented a signi fi cant milestone toward the establishment of a fullyauthoritarian system of governance. Later, on January 5, 1939, a decree concerning the execution of the aforementioned law, which consisted of 37 points, was published, Section 1 of which declared, “the Front of National Rebirth is the sole political organization”, and Section 6 stated that “ethnic minorities signed up for membership in the Front may take advantage of all their legal rights, established through existing law, through theirrespective subdivisions” (Ellenzék 6 January 1939). A f er the publication of the executive order, the recruitment of the country’s population to the new political organization began. First to enroll in the Front were those, both majority as well as minority citizens, who – given their occupations – depended,directly or indirectly, on the state authorities (civil servants, professors, teachers, merchants). It became obvious, however, that the one condition for continued existence on an individual, as well as an institutional – and, in the case of minorities, on a national – level was enrollment in the Front of National Rebirth.Of the various minorities in Romania, this was fi rst recognized by the Germans,whose politics had already largely leaned toward the government. Thus, readers of Ellenzék (Opposition), could fi nd out from the January 14 issue that “based on an agreement with the government, the country’s German minority will collectively jointhe Front of National Rebirth” (Ellenzék, January 14, 1939). A f er the establishmentof the agreement, the government also recognized the German People’s Community( Deutsche Volksgemeinscha   ), which had already been functional under the previouspolitical conditions. At the same time there were discussions, starting at the end of 1938, with the representatives of the Hungarian minority as well. The principal negotiating partners, however, did not come from the leadership of the old Hungarian National Party (György Bethlen, Gábor Pál, Elemér Gyárfás) – due to the dismissive a t itude of the Romaniangovernment, which was justi fi ed by the assertion that they did not intend to renewthe old party framework – but rather, the role of representing the Hungarian minoritywas taken over by the Miklós Bán ff y – Pál Szász duo. From this point, the leaders ofthe Hungarian historical churches (the Reformed Protestant bishop János Vásárhelyi,the Roman Catholic bishop Áron Márton, and the Unitarian bishop Dr. Béla Varga)also started to play an important role (Mikó, 1941, pp. 218-219). On January 14, 1939, Silviu Dragomir, Government Commissioner for Minority A ff airs, and Hodor Victor, provincial secretary-general, held negotiations in Klausenburg  239 (Cluj) with the Hungarian representatives, the result being an agreement of principles on the Hungarian minority’s joining the Front of National Rebirth. The January 14 agreement was followed by an agreement with the government three days later. Thecontent of the agreement was announced to the public on the January 19, according towhich, Hungarians with Romanian citizenship could enroll in the Front of National Rebirth; they could establish private chapters in their localities, and these chapters could represent themselves with ten members in the Supreme National Council, and withone member in the Directory of the Front. The Hungarian professional organizationswould also join national professional institutions, and the agreement also allowed forthe creation of a cohesive economic-social-cultural organization (Ellenzék, January 20,1939). This role was fi lled by the Hungarian People’s Community of Romania. The Hungarian People’s Community of Romania held its statutory meeting on February 11, 1939 in Klausenburg, in the salon of the National Casino, where manyrepresentatives of Transylvanian Hungarian public life made an appearance, having been invited by Miklós Bán ff y. He opened the meeting and presented once more thepoints of the agreement made with the government. Then he elaborated on the factthat he believed that the situation would be a temporary one and that his charge wasonly until the “special regulations apply”. At the same time, he ensured the audiencethat he would submit, at the fi rst such opportunity, his mandate to a referendum ofthe Hungarian community in Romania. 1.5. The Election Statute and its Consequences A new juncture in the history of the royal dictatorship was the Election Statute, published on May 9, 1939. According to the fi rst section of the Statute, the new Parliament wouldalso consist of two chambers: the House of Representatives would have 258 members,and members of the Senate would be appointed in part by the sovereign, as well as exo  ffi cio, and some elected through popular elections. The sovereign would appoint half of the Senate, namely 88 senators. To these were added the Senators de jure  , i.e. ecclesiastical and state o ffi cials, the heir to the throne, the Royal Princes of age, the Patriarch and thecountry’s archbishops, the bishops of the Greek Oriental and Greco-Catholic Churchesand the heads of recognized denominations, if they represented churches with at least200,000 followers. The new statute raised the age of su ff rage from 21 to 30 years, andamong the conditions to have the right to vote was that the electors had to pursue one of the following professions: agriculture, industry or business, or the intellectual occupations. Only those who could read and write could vote. Section (f) of Article 18 of the ElectionStatute is a particularly interesting passage, according to which those people who hadtaken up arms against the Romanian army during the wars for national union could not be eligible to vote or run for o ffi ce (O ffi cial Monitor May 9, 1939).Based on the new Election Statute, elections for the House of Representatives wereheld on June 1, 1939, and Senatorial elections were held the next day, on June 2. Thecandidates lists put together under the guidance of Prime Minister Armand C ă linescuwere approved by the king as well, in a way in which a third of the Parliament seats
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