The Constitution of Roumania contains one hundred and thirty-three articles, and is framed with great regard to justice and to national liberties. The following are some of its leading provisions. The country is divided into districts, the districts into arrondissements, the arrondissements into communes.1 It grants (Article 5) freedom of conscience, of instruction, of the press, and public meeting. Abolishes (10 and 12) 2 distinctions and privileges of class and foreign titles, such as Prince, Count, Baron, &c., as being contrary to ancient institutions.3 Capital punishment is abolished except under martial law in time of war (18). The property of the peasantry and the indemnity to landowners are invoidable (20). The Greek Catholic religion is made the State Church, but all other sects are allowed freedom of worship (21).Primarary instruction is gratuitous and compulsory (23), and primary schools are to be established in every commune. Freedom of speech, except as to breaches of the Criminal Code, is unrestricted ; offences must be tried by jury, and no journal can be `warned,' suspended, or suppressed ; neither is there any kind of `censure' of the press (24). Freedom of assemblage (26) and the right to petition (28) are confirmed; and the extradition of political exiles is forbidden. All crimes are to be tried by jury (105). The legislative power is vested in the Prince and the national repre- sentatives, namely, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies But money bills and matters relating to the army contingents must originate with the latter (33).
The executive power is vested in the prince (35) (now the king), who is hereditary in the male line only (82), and who must belong to the Orthodox Greek Church. He is inviolate, his ministers only being responsible, and one of them must countersign all his decrees (92). He sanctions, and may refuse his assent to, all laws ; has the right of amnesty (93); is the head of the army, makes war, conludes peace, and performs the other acts of a constitutional sovreign. Should a vacancy occur in the throne, various provisions exist for the eventuality, and in case of failure of issue the two Assemblies conjointly ' elect a prince of one of the sovereign dynasties of Western Europe' (84). (Rather vague, but very significant.)
The Chamber of Deputies consists of members elected by direct and by indirect voting. The constituency is divided into four 'colleges' or groups (58). The first college in each district comprises persons having incomes from property (foncier) of not less than 300 ducats, equal to about 141 l. (59). The second college includes those with an income ranging from 100 to 300 ducats (47 l. to 1411 l.) (60). The third (61) comprises persons in trade paying the State 80 francs (about 3l. 4s.) or upwards per annum. Members of the liberal professions, half-pay officers, and some others are exempted from the money qualification. These colleges elect each one Deputy, and the towns elect an additional number according to their importance, from such places as Pitesti two to Bucarest five. The fourth college elects indirectly. It consists of all persons who pay any taxes or contributions, however small. In this college each set of fifty electors names a delegate, and the delegates elect a Deputy. The Deputies (of whom there are to-day one hundred and forty-five) must be Roumanians, born or naturalised, must have attained the age of twenty-five, and must live in Roumania (66). The duration of the Chamber of Deputies is four years.
The Senate is elected by two colleges, being the two highest for the election of Deputies. It consists to-day of seventy-six members, and includes a number of high officials who are not elective, such as the archbishop and bishops. The qualification for a Senator is an income of 800 ducats (equal to about 376 l.) per annum, and he must have attained the age of forty years. The Senators are elected for eight years, one half retiring every four years, except in case of a dissolution of the Senate, when all must be re-elected, or, more properly speaking, a new Senate must be chosen (68 to 81).The Act of the Constitution deals with the judicial system, the Code Napoleon being in force in Roumania, with finances, army organion, and other important matters of national interest. The Act is signed by the Prince and his Ministers : the Minister of the Interior and President of the Council, L. Catargi ; the Minister of Finance, J. Bratiano ; the Minister of Justice, J. Cantacuzene ; the minister of Foreign Affairs, P. Mavrogeni; the Minister of Public Worship and Instruction, C. A. Rosetti ; the Minister of War, J. Ghika ; the Minister of Public Works, Agriculture, and Commerce, D. Stourdza.
1 This abstract is made from the French translation of the Constitution ; the actual divisions of the country are as follows : Judetu is a department or district, the head of which is a prefect. Of these there are at present thirty-two in all. Plasa, subdivision of a Judetu, the head of which is a sub-prefect. Comma, a parish. Urba, a city. Orage, a town.
2 The numbers in parentheses refer to the articles.
3 A few old families have retained their titles, but many who would have same justification for doing so have discontinued their use.
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