Nearly nine out of ten residents of Romania belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Over half of Hungarians in the country are Protestant Calvinists while most others are Catholics. In addition, there are also Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals and just under 10,000 Jews and about 55,000 Muslims with Turkish or Tatar backgrounds.
Christianity came to Romania already in the Roman era 106-227 AD. The proximity to Constantinople caused the Orthodox branch to dominate. In the 1880s, an independent Orthodox church was established in the country with its own patriarch. In Romania, there is also a so-called unified church that emerged among former Orthodox members of Transylvania in the late 17th century, when the area belonged to the Habsburg Empire. Unified, or Greek-Catholic, churches have the Pope as head but have retained the Orthodox liturgy.
During the communist era (1948–1989), all religious activities were controlled by the state and many Christians were persecuted. In 1948, the Romanian Union Church was banned and a large number of its priests were imprisoned. The Orthodox Church was loyal to the regime. The Christian leaders who opposed the authorities belonged to other communities.
After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, religious freedom was introduced and the importance of churches in society increased. The United Church was re-admitted in 1990. The government has registered and approved 18 religious groups. There are also a large number of smaller faith communities, but according to a law from 2006, only those whose membership number corresponds to one per thousand of the population and who have been continuously active in the country for at least twelve years are recognized. The Romanian Orthodox Church has in some cases exploited its dominant position and, among other things, has been able to delay the return of property confiscated during the communist era by other religious groups, especially the Greek Catholic.
The officially recognized religious groups have the right to state support and to, among other things, open schools and broadcast religious programs on radio and television.
In 1999, Pope John Paul II visited Romania and participated in an outdoor worship service in Bucharest with the orthodox patriarch Teoctist. It was the first time since the Eastern Church broke with Rome in 1054 that a Roman Catholic pope visited a country with a predominantly Orthodox population.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Romania, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Increased wages and pensions cause budget problems
The government is introducing a new tax on banks and energy companies in an attempt to keep the budget deficit below the 3 percent of GDP required by the EU. The deficit is likely to be higher due to the tax cuts implemented during the year while raising public sector pensions and salaries. Banks that take more than 2 percent interest on loans will now have to pay a fee and the energy companies’ turnover is taxed. At the same time, the price of gas and electricity is frozen for all individuals, but only for certain industries.
Ex-President Iliescu is being prosecuted
Ion Iliescu is being prosecuted for crimes against humanityfor his role in the bloody uprising that resulted in the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1989. Ilisecu, now 88 years old, was a minister in the government of Ceaușescu and came to lead the National Rescue Front which took over the rule of the country since Ceaușescu was executed. Iliescu was elected president in 1990. In addition to Iliescu, four other persons are indicted, including the then Deputy Prime Minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu. According to prosecutors, Iliescu and Voiculescu, during the uprising, disseminated incorrect information at press conferences, resulting in chaotic firing and conflicting military ordering. Over 1,100 people are estimated to have lost their lives in connection with the uprising. A total of 275 people have been prosecuted for their role in fighting the uprising, but according to the groups that support the relatives of the victims, only a few dozen have been convicted.
The ruling PSD conducts a government transformation that is perceived by the outside world as a way for party leader Liviu Dragnea to strengthen his influence over the government. Dragnea is convicted of electoral fraud and thus prevented from leading the government himself. Six ministers are dismissed and two may change ministries. However, the Minister of the Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs may remain. The government sets forth the forthcoming EU Presidency as a reason for the transformation. “We need experienced people to lead the EU from January 1,” says Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă.
The European Commission criticizes judicial reform
In a critical report, the European Commission notes that Romania has developed backwards in terms of legal reform. The government is urged to immediately resume the fight against corruption and secure the independence of the judiciary. Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans says that the Romanian government should repeal the new rules for appointing judges and not implement the changes in the criminal code previously criticized by the EU (see 12 October and 19 June).
The Minister of Justice to attack the Prosecutor General
Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader asks President Iohannis to dismiss State Prosecutor Augustin Lazăr. The Minister presents a report in which Lazăr is accused of attacking Parliament and the government by defending wrongs committed by prosecutors in anti-corruption cases. Lazăr calls the report a threat to the prosecutor’s independence. The minister’s attempt to get the prosecutor dismissed comes just a week after Lazăr criticized new rules for the appointment of prosecutors. The conflict between the government and the judiciary has been going on for a long time. In July, Laura Codruţa Kövesi, head of the country’s corruption unit, was dismissed. Under her leadership, many people were convicted of bribery. The government believes that anti-corruption investigators are going too hard and damaging Romania’s reputation abroad.
Prosecutors in corruption cases are dismissed
The government issues a regulation which means that many prosecutors working with corruption cases are forced to resign. According to the regulation, a prosecutor is required to have at least ten years of experience in order to work on the prosecutor’s office or on the anti-corruption unit DNA. Another government regulation states that the Chief Prosecutor must have 15 years of experience. The new rules allow at least 90 prosecutors to leave their jobs. State Prosecutor Augustin Lazăr says the regulation will complicate a number of important investigations, including the one concerning police violence against protesters at a large protest on August 10.
The Constitutional Court approves legislative changes
The Constitutional Court finds that a number of the legislative changes implemented by the ruling party PSD (see June 19) violate the Constitution. The Court rejects 60 amendments to the Criminal Code, which were previously criticized by the EU and President Iohannis. In its verdict, the Constitutional Court writes that many of the legislative changes favor those suspected at the expense of the victim. The changes are also criticized for making investigations more difficult. Other critics of the change have argued that they can make it easier for convicted politicians, such as PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, to have their case tried again and also escape future charges.
Plan for increased pensions
The government announces that pensions will double by 2022. Pensions in Romania are among the lowest in the EU, averaging EUR 240 per month. The government says the increase in spending will be covered by continued economic growth, but economists warn that that plan may fail, pointing out that Romania is already struggling to meet the EU budget deficit target of 3 percent.
Action against same-sex marriage fails
A referendum is being held on a proposal to change the law’s definition of marriage. In the current legal text, marriage is described as a union between “spouses”, but in practice people of the same sex cannot enter into marriage. The campaign group that has initiated the referendum wants to change the definition from spouses to men and women and thus make it possible to further interpret the concept of spouses. 92 percent of those who cast their votes support the publisher to change the law, but turnout is below 20 percent, which means the result will not be valid. The low turnout is a setback for the ruling party PSD who has chosen to organize the referendum despite criticism from the EU and human rights organizations (see also 27 September and 5 June i).
Court supports same-sex marriage
Just over a week before a controversial referendum on who has the right to marry, the Constitutional Court states that gays should have the same rights as heterosexuals when it comes to family issues. The Court bases its ruling on a judgment of the European Court of Justice (see June 5).
The PSD leader remains despite internal criticism
Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling party PSD, survives a rebellion against his leadership. 55 members of the party’s governing body vote for him to continue as party leader. Eight members vote against. The vote takes place after three leading party members openly demanded Dragnea’s departure for “becoming a huge burden on the party”. Dragnea led PSD to victory in the 2016 election but could not become head of government because he was convicted of cheating in connection with a referendum. In June he was also convicted of abuse of power and he is being investigated further for cheating with EU grants.
Prosecution for police violence against protesters
Representatives of the country’s judiciary announce that four people will be charged with police violence against protesters in August (see August 10). Prosecutions for abuse of power are being brought against the head of the police force who turned down the protests as well as against two other police officers and an official of the Interior Ministry. More than 450 people were injured when police stopped the demonstration. Some of the protesters attacked the police, but prosecutors say the police used unreasonably much force when they fought back. In a comment to the EU, Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă previously defended the police’s actions, citing that the demonstration was “an attempt to overthrow the government”.
Hundreds of people injured in protest against changed corruption laws
Between 80,000 and 100,000 people are demonstrating in Bucharest against the changes in the country’s legal system (see June 19). The protesters believe that the changes undermine the rule of law and demand the resignation of the government. Smaller groups of protesters attack the police and try to break into government buildings. When the police strike back with batons, tear gas and water cannons, about 450 people are injured, including 30 police officers. Around 30 people are arrested. The police are charged with assault and the prosecutor initiates an investigation.
The anti-corruption chief is dismissed
President Klaus Ionnais submits to the Constitutional Court’s decision of May 30 and dismisses the head of anti-corruption unit DNA, Laura Codruţa Kövesi. Thus, the government wins the tug of war for Kövesi. During Kövesi’s leadership for DNA, many high-ranking authorities have been accused of corruption and the government has tried to get rid of her throughout the year. Iohannis, for his part, refused to dismiss Kövesi, even after the Constitutional Court’s ruling, which led members of the ruling party to start talking about national law. In a statement, the President’s Office now states that “the Constitutional Court’s decision must be respected in a rule of law.”
Milder corruption laws are approved
After a record-breaking reading, Parliament finally approved the legal reform package adopted in a first vote on June 19. According to anti-corruption investigators quoted by the news agency AFP, the new laws could lead to the closure of about 200 corruption cases (read about the reforms in the listing from June 19). President Iohannis and the opposition announce that they will ask the Constitutional Court to review the legislative changes.
The government survives distrust
166 of Parliament’s 329 members vote against the government in a vote of no confidence but fail to get the government down. A further 77 votes were required. The opposition that initiated the vote accuses the government of weakening the country’s judiciary. Earlier in June, Parliament had voted in favor of legislative amendments that make it more difficult for prosecutors to pursue corruption cases (see June 19). One of those brought to trial is the ruling party PSD leader Liviu Dragnea.
The leader of the ruling party again convicted
Liviu Dragnea, leader of the PSD government party, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for abuse of power as he made sure two women got pretend jobs at a government institution while in fact working for his party. This is the second time Dragnea has been convicted of a crime. In 2015 he was sentenced to two years in prison for election fraud. Dragnea announces that he will appeal and continue as leader of PSD.
Anti-corruption laws are loosened up
Approves controversial measures that cut prosecutors’ ability to prosecute persons suspected of corruption; The number of crimes for which suspects can be detained is limited, and a time limit is set for investigations. If an investigation does not lead to prosecution within one year, the suspicions of crime are written off. Further decides that the requirements should be tightened on evidence that appears during interception; The rule on time limits is assumed to have a particular effect on corruption investigations as they usually extend over several years. Furthermore, abuse of power will not be counted as a crime unless you can prove that the accused acted to enrich himself or some close family member. Bribery involving sums less than EUR 407 in earnings will not be investigated and the penalty for such crimes will be reduced from seven to five years. According to the opposition, some of the new rules could be used by the ruling party leader Liviu Dragnea to demand that the judgments against him be reviewed. Dragnea has previously been convicted of electoral fraud and has a verdict for abuse of power hanging over him. The legislative changes upset President Iohannis, who says he will use his power to try to stop them. Two days after the vote in Parliament, tens of thousands of people in the capital are protesting against the new laws.
Government led march against the judiciary
The government is organizing a protest march against alleged abuses by the country’s legal system, which has in recent years dropped a number of high-ranking politicians and officials for corruption crimes. The participants are shuttled in from all over the country to the capital. The state news agency puts the number at 150,000. The leader of the ruling PSD party, Liviu Dragnea, and Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă are taking part in the protest. Dragnea, who himself has been put on trial for abuse of power and is awaiting his verdict, says prosecutors go too far and warns protesters of what he calls “the parallel state”, that is, “corrupt prosecutors, the head of the anti-corruption office DNA and judges with associations to the security service ”.
Ex-minister sentenced to prison for corruption
A former Minister of Tourism is sentenced in his absence to six years in prison for receiving bribes in connection with the organization of a sports event in 2011. Elena Udrea, who has taken refuge in Costa Rica, is also sentenced to repay EUR 900,000 to two local businessmen and EUR 1.7 million in damages to the national tourism authority.
The government is rebuked for the right of same-sex couples
The European Court of Justice gives Romania a snap when it states that the right to reside within the Union with a non-European spouse also applies to same-sex couples. The court raised the case after Romania, which does not allow same-sex marriage, rejected an application for a residence permit from an American married to a returning Romanian.
The Constitutional Court takes the government’s party
The Constitutional Court states that President Iohannis must agree to dismiss Laura Codruţa Kövesi, popular director of the country’s anti-corruption unit (DNA). Ioannis has previously opposed the government’s attempt to dismiss Kövesi (see April 2018). Under Kövesi’s leadership, the anti-corruption unit has dropped many high-ranking politicians and officials for corruption. The government welcomes the decision, while the opposition, to which Ioannis belongs, calls it a severe blow to the court’s credibility. When the decision becomes known, around a thousand people gather in the capital to show their support for Kövesi. The conflict remains unsolved as Iohannis does not adhere to the court’s decision.
The government loses the parliamentary majority
The government coalition between the Social Democratic PSD and the center-right alliance Alde loses its majority in Parliament after a number of PSD members have moved to the newly formed Party For Romania. The coalition thus becomes even more dependent on cooperation with the Hungarian Democratic Union (UDMR).
New trouble about embassy move
The foreign policy quarrel between President Iohannis and the government is gaining momentum when the government decides not to endorse an EU statement criticizing the US President Trump’s decision to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Ioannis questions the government’s decision and believes it marginalizes Romania’s foreign policy. This is the second time that the embassy issue has led to public quarrel. When the government in April announced plans to follow Trump in the tracks, it also aroused opposition from Iohannis.
Ponta exempt from corruption charges
Former Gov. Victor Ponta is exonerated by the Supreme Court from corruption charges. Ponta was indicted in 2015 for fraud, money laundering and tax evasion during the years 2007 to 2011 when he sat in parliament but also worked as a lawyer.
The president rejects legal reform
President Iohannis refuses to sign the set of legal reforms adopted by Parliament in December 2017. Critics, including the president, believe that the reforms reduce the independence of the judiciary and make it more difficult to fight corruption (see November and December 2017). Iohannis states that he will ask the Constitutional Court to look at the proposals and also send it to experts at the Council of Europe.
The anti-corruption chief remains in his post
President Klaus Iohannis announces that he does not agree to dismiss the head of the country’s anti-corruption unit, Laura Codruţa Kövesi. In February, the government initiated a process to try to get rid of Kövesi on the grounds that she would be “authoritarian” and have “damaged Romania’s reputation abroad” (see February 2018). Iohannis says he was not convinced by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s argument for dismissing Kövesi.
Controversy over embassy move in Israel
President Klaus Iohannis opposes the government’s plans to follow the United States in its tracks and move the Romanian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After the Foreign Ministry announced that a process was initiated with the aim of moving the embassy, Iohannis says that such a measure would run counter to international law. Iohannis also points out that under the Constitution, the President is to decide on the opening and closing of the country’s diplomatic institutions.
Russian diplomat expelled
Romania expels a Russian diplomat as a result of a nerve poisoning attack on a Russian former spy and his daughter in the UK in early March. It is taking place in concerted action with some 20 countries, mainly in the EU, in solidarity with the British government accusing Russia of being behind the attack. In total, over 100 Russian diplomats are expelled, 60 of whom are from the United States. Moscow denies all involvement in the poison attack and threatens with countermeasures.
Anti-corruption boss gets support from court
A court that oversees the judiciary’s independence, the Supreme Court of Magistrates (CSM), supports Laura Codruţa Kövesi, considered head of the Anti-Corruption Unit (DNA), when it denies the Justice Minister’s attempt to get her dismissed for “damaging the country’s reputation in the outside world”. DNA has dropped a number of high-ranking holders of corruption, including several top politicians within the ruling party PSD. However, the Court’s statement is not binding. The decision lies with President Iohannis.
Thousands support anti-corruption bosses
Around 3,000 people gather outside the government building in Bucharest to show their support to Laura Codruţa Kövesi, popular director of the country’s anti-corruption unit (DNA). Three days earlier, the PSD government initiated a process of trying to dismiss Kövesi, which the government accuses of being “authoritarian” and of “damaging Romania’s reputation abroad”. Even in several smaller cities, people are protesting against the government’s plans to remove the head of DNA, which in recent years has dropped many high-ranking politicians and civil servants for corruption. Several of the convicted have been members of the PSD or closely allied with the ruling party. In Romania, however, it is the president who decides to dismiss a head of government, and President Iohannis has said he is satisfied with Kövesi and DNA.
Former finance minister is jailed for bribery
Darius V â lcov, finance minister for a few months until the beginning of 2015 and is now an advisor to the government, was sentenced to eight years in prison for bribery. He is found guilty of receiving the equivalent of $ 1.7 million in bribes from a company that, in return, was awarded a contract at state procurement. Mutbrotten should have taken place during the V â lcovs time local politicians between 2009 and 2013. The verdict is seen as another success for the state unit to fight corruption, DNA.
The legal reforms get the homework of HD
30th of January
The Supreme Court (HD) states that parts of the legal reform package that the PSD government seeks to implement are contrary to the Constitution and must be amended. The judicial reforms are primarily aimed at reducing the powers of the reputed anti-corruption body. They also abolish the president’s ability to veto the appointment of high-ranking prosecutors nominated by the government. According to HD, the new laws are too vague and need to be clarified. The disputed reforms have been pushed through the PSD-dominated parliament, but President Iohannis has not yet signed them.
The government of Dăncilă takes office
Prime Minister Dancila’s new government takes office since Parliament approved it with 282 yes votes to 136 no votes.
Romania gets its first female head of government
Romania gets its first female head of government when Parliament approves PSD’s election of Viorica Dăncilă as new prime minister. Dăncilă belongs to the ruling party PSD and has previously been a member of the European Parliament.
Prime Minister Tudose resigns
Prime Minister Tudose resigns after losing support within his own party, the ruling Social Democratic PSD. This is the second time in seven months that Romania will change its head of government because the PSD leadership no longer supports them. In June 2017, Sorin Grindeanu was forced to submit her dismissal application. Behind the prime minister replacements lie difficult power struggles within the PSD. Both Tudose and Grindeanu, according to party sources, fell into disgrace at PSD’s powerful chairman Liviu Dragnea, who is accused of running the government behind the scenes.
Supreme police chief dismissed after scandal
Interior Minister Carmen Dan dismisses the country’s highest police chief since several police officers are suspected of having protected a colleague who now acknowledged sexual abuse against two children inside an elevator. He also must have admitted a rape of a seven-year-old girl in 2012 and two other crimes committed in 2009 and 2015. According to Dan, police officers could possibly have been unaware of the cases. Nevertheless, the police have remained in service until recently.