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The return to the democracy and the restitution of the land property.

1. Historical background (1866-1918)

The social reform in Romania coincided with the radical political measures for the improvement of the international legal status according to the fulfillment of the wishes of Revolution of 1848, the national territorial unification and political independence.

The understanding of the socio-economic reconstruction stages required a basic analysis of the economic structures and the associated structures, trying to solve the complex problems identified in the Romanian society of the period 1859-1918 (Berindei, 2003: 56).

A main characteristic of the Romanian society is the influence of the political and economical factors having a medieval origin, perpetual economic dependence principalities of the Ottoman Empire, which, contrary to international regulations, engaged in Romanian domestic politics (Platon, 1985: 210).

Modernizing desires of a part of the nobility were used by the Habsburgs and Russians as evidence capable of supporting a probable territorial occupation, leaving these constructive initiatives in theory, weak in practice finality by low penetration capacity of the original message.

Great mass of people were dependent peasants, a small part were merchants, artisans (usually foreign subjects), while a minority owned most of the property, which gives political power.

The essential purpose of the study was the main features of the Romanian society, from the union in 1859, to the proclamation of the Kingdom in 1881. During this period, the most important commitments made by policymakers in Romania, starting in 1821 and continuing with the reforms of Alexander John Cuza, the adoption of the 1866 Constitution, legislative strengthening and independence (Durandin, 1988: 132).

We insisted on discussing the particularities of Romanian society, whose evolution from medieval to modern was accelerated after 1831, especially after the double election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Its bold reforms have been maintained, but the pace was rather slow. Essential contradiction independent Romanian society was that the gap between peasants, landowners and the bourgeoisie, the last two classes holding by the poll tax vote, political power, not willing to share with most people, on whose shoulders a press excessive taxation, poverty acute shortage of health services, consumer goods, the poor condition of communication. The two issues, rural election, which give added the third, Hebrew question were those that generated the main currents of thought: liberal, conservative, socialist (Osiac, 1997: 76).

We expose the main reasons that influenced the social and political stratification of different social classes. Our study gives researchers important data on the number and proportion of social structures in rural and urban areas. The sheer volume of information has been used in speech logic and the presentation of Romanian realities of the period studied. Social instability in the village and city of the Old Kingdom has been explicitly presented in terms of social classes will. Landowners and the bourgeoisie in the process of organizing and ideological maturity, promoted reform and progress, while peasants change their status and become a class that asks political rights. The workers are organized and start fighting for economic, social and political rights. Strengthening internal state determined internationally affirmation in a world where the great powers had shared their areas of influence and authority. Making nationally was essential, since Romania gets its official independence, managed to get out to sea in 1878 to take over Southern Dobrogea, in 1913. Part of the Triple Alliance political-military bloc, Romania makes peeling the allies in 1914, following national desire, which it carries out in 1918.

Internally, at the beginning of the study period (1860 census), about social structures, we can mention that 1,871,800 people working agriculture which accounted for 86.2% of the population, industry 114,900 (5.3%), transport 2,000 (0.1%), commerce and credit 44,900 (2.1%), education, worship, culture 8,300 (0.4%) in health care administration and 24,400 in army (0.1 %). Towards the end of the period (1912 census) in the same line of work parallels 3.1934 million representing 79.5% of the population, 8,200 industrial, 1,900 in transport, trade and credit 3,100, in education, worship, culture 800, Safety Sanitation 300, government, army 3,500 (Berindei (coord.), 2003: 598).

Regarding the constitutional evolution of the Romanian state, we note that the fundamental act of 1866 had two intended to preserve the social status of Romania. Article 7 shall deprive Hebrew nationality, and Article 12 prohibiting any change in property ownership, except for expropriation in the public interest for infrastructure projects. This is the paradox of Romanian society, a country governed by the few in their interest, while the majority of the population was at subsistence level, being deprived of political power. A special category, which could counteract the influence of the ruling minority financial bourgeoisie, was kept out of political power. Lack of land remains a constant of the nineteenth century, partly mitigated by the agrarian reform of 1864.

The law of rural property in August 1864 assigned an area of 1,766,258.2 ha of land to a number of farms 467,840 while remaining "expropriated landowners" 7,305,718.3 hectares of arable land, forests and pastures "in one place". After the reform, the peasantry owned 3,226,334 ha which is less than half of which had large land area. However agrarian reform of 1864 has sparked interest untied the peasant masses that saw the group work and allotted (Creanga, 1913: 79; Dobrescu, 1999: 6572).

This reform, the first in modern history had, as was natural limits. Peasants received land areas or "agricultural inventory" they needed for their maintenance and their families, and some were not given land at all. As a result, agriculture remains a number of feudal remnants that have been an obstacle to capitalist development in Romania. With the concentration of a significant amount of money in the hands of landlords workforce, the large landed estates gradually began to take place villager consented (Scurtu, 1968: 499-521).

The governors, who on the eve of independence war broke promised surfaces of land to the peasants, were forced by the imposing victories on the battlefield, to amend the law agricultural compacts. Thus, a total of 48,342 families of married couples and other villagers who had not received land in 1864 might receive the promised surfaces. Under the pressure of the masses of peasants had to vote Liberal cabinet in February 1880 a decision under which the soldiers received land application of state lands and Dobrogea, but few have accepted to be displaced from their native land to be given land, demanding the give land in estates close. Arbitrary application of the agrarian reform of 1864, the lack of property for new-married people or their appropriation of land located far from their native land, the harsh conditions of agricultural compacts, in the spring of 1888 led to the outbreak of a powerful revolt, which included a number of counties in Walachia.

The impressive number of petitions to the authorities made the ruling circles of the time to take some action: changing the law farming arrangements, concern municipalities to pay damages from the war and others. Most complaints made by farmers were that they had to dispose of some of the land received by rural law of 1864, they still pay "land taxes".

At the beginning of the twentieth century according to historical data, there were 408,502 families (48,27%) of taxpayers establish rural communities who lacked land. Among counties, the largest numbers of farmers deprived of land were in Dolj--30,130, Ilfov--26,361, Vlasca--22,623.

The situation of the Romanian village that was completed by 4,171 large owners having up to 100 ha of which 66 with over 5,000 ha had the highest percentage of arable land, with the Conservative Party decision-making power still subject to limitation by the bourgeoisie class who led the modernization and national reunification.

Lack of agricultural inventory, price increase grazing tithe rent in increasingly higher prices for agricultural work listed in decreasing pacts on most estates, abuse authorities, tenants and owners of estates extremism led the peasants who grew the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century (Osiac, 1999: 147).

A form of struggle of the peasantry, manifested after the war of independence, was the abandonment by the villagers of the homeland and establish in other parts of the country or emigrate to other countries.

The information in the period 1878-1888, recorded several cases where peasants made their own hands. The officers have been punished lessees, tenants, mayors, notaries, and innkeepers. The causes of violent behavior of the peasantry, in time, be reflected in the ways in which reforms have been implemented in 1864 and 1879.

The abolition of servile peasantry nearly 500,000 peasant families was added smallholders. Payment of compensation, insufficient inventory dead and alive, raising the taxes to the state, county and led common slow formation of a strong peasant classes. GD Vernescu mention in the House of Representatives in June 1875 "peasant state, which is down by burdening taxes".

Winning national independence of Romania led to the removal of one of the main obstacles standing in the way of the country's capitalist development: dependence on the Ottoman Empire. The ability to freely conclude commercial treaties and customs of different countries has enabled the adoption of economic policies that favor industrial development of the country, a prerequisite for advancement modern Romanian state. In turn, the development of capitalist industry has direct consequences on other sectors of the economy: agriculture, capitalist banking system, internal and external trade, means of communications and transportation, etc. (Berindei, 2009: 317-323).

CD Creanga in 1907 estimates that the vast property of 100 hectares was owned by 4,171 estates with a total of 3,180,351 ha (54.72%). 920,739 farmers with up to 10 ha property had 3,153,645 ha (45.28%), without taking into account the woods, where a major role was played by the freeholders (condominium ownership) (Dobrescu, 1999: 65-72).

2. The enforcment and the decline of the democracy (1918-1945)

The most important achievement of the Great Union of Romanian politics after independence was the result of the interaction of the classes. The major role was that of the bourgeoisie and landlords as progress classes. A role becoming more visible in the implementation of the national and social program of the Revolution of 1848 began to be peasants, laborers that influenced political events and large-scale national and international events of the period (Iordache, 1987: 237).

They saw the real causes of discontent in part by proposing solving problems from the standpoint of class. Landowners proposed that land be given only to those "leaders" series that are able to work the land, the bourgeoisie villages rising during this period. Also, it further provides a series of measures inapplicable. To control and prevent abuse agricultural landowners and leaseholders will be established in one County Court magistrate acting as a control pacts agricultural, authenticate them, to supervise the use of communal pastures, to authenticate the documents for the sale of land. Agriculture was compacts price at the discretion of the owners, the court refraining from fixed rates to determine districts or regions. Rebels directed their complaints to local and county officials going to change and install them instead of people committed to their cause.

After the 1900, unrest and riots continued more intensively, especially in 19051906, because in the spring of 1907 to culminate new large-scale rebellion. The 1860 and 1912 censuses and surveys 1901-1902 industrial structure gives us a mirror of the active population spread over large areas of the economy. Note that is specialized population with a certain degree of training significantly increased more than twice, from 1860 1912. Industrial Survey of 1901-1902 mentions 37,746 people working in large industries (24,4%), 105,031 people working in small industries, handicrafts (64.6%), 17,853 Handful who worked in special industries , mills, saws, fuelling (11%). Administrative and technical sector of large industry in 2,421 was served by people who came after, fell into the middle class. Considering ethnicity, of these, 1268 were Romanian, 633 foreigners and 520 without a passport ("unprotected") (Stan, 1979: 5562).

The middle class has experienced significant changes due to the modernization of the Romanian state. The above mentioned document gives the number of 71,000 enterprises, representing small industries and special industries. We mentioned that there were, at the beginning of the twentieth century 71,000 employers, representing the middle class. In the early twentieth century, the professions represented a significant part of the middle class. Thus, there were 1,325 lawyers and more than 100,000 people, professors, teachers, doctors, government officials. All this adds to the peasants who owned 10-50 hectares of dull and tenants. Representatives of the middle class were tributary but the imbalance between needs and possibilities of development of society maintained throughout the period 1859-1918.

The Countryside Act of 1864 and sales laws adopted by 1901, 629,389 peasants have obtained 2,562 ha as follows: 1864--467,840 peasants 2,826 ha in 1878 to 1,879 "the law of the new-married"--48,342 farmers with 9728 ha in 1881--4,970 to 23,069 peasants, 7,936 ha; 1889--1,615 peasants with 526,233 ha. All these laws have allowed the appropriation of up to 10 ha/lot. Also in 1881 and 1889, to 1,716 peasants were given 4,339 hectares. Their loads exceeding 10 ha. This remained unmodified until 1906

The sale of estates of the state was insufficient to meet the need of land for the peasants and assumed political and economic goals.

In 1904, it was decided to set up the village communities, who could rent estates. In 1913, it was estimated a total of 495 rural communities with 77,000 members, but they only have 1/6 of the total area controlled by tenants.

In the Parliament of 1911, 50% of seat occupants deputies and senators were for large landowners. Gradually, amid increasing as a share of tenants, more properties will be controlled by people eager to win, willing to use coercive forms of the peasants who worked on the estates, which criticized the C. Dobrogeanu Gherea as new-serfdom. Radu Rosetti emphasized the unconstitutional nature of the agricultural compacts that penalize farmers and opens the way to abuse.

United bourgeoisie increased organizational power and because the National Bank Law, the Law of encouraging industry, the 1887 Mining Law of 1895.

There is the growing attraction of large landowners to industrial, commercial and bancare so that the separation between "bourgeois" and "landlords" would gradually fade (Iosa, 1982: 207).

At the end of the nineteenth century, the two currents, liberal and conservative political struggle continued on the peasant question. Conservatives declared themselves against fragmentation surfaces in small batches, demonstrating that 920,000 peasants who had about 50 of the country in small areas is a step backwards more than the 300,000 landless peasants . The desire to solve the agrarian question and riots were blamed on liberals. The latter, consistent doctrinal ideals, believed that a country with a well-defined social structure could not have a developed bourgeoisie and poor peasantry. Neither before nor after 1907 vigor liberal reforms was not expected. As profiling framework gaining independence made possible reform of 1864, the external environment and this time could be the trigger fundamental reforms and electoral property.

After secularization of church clergy remuneration issue, as well as maintenance of places of worship has become increasingly pressing. The initial solution to the allocation of land parishes failed to improve the situation. To redefine the role of the Church in society, the Romanian state has engaged increasingly more institutional reorganization of the Church, both in the church hierarchy and the regular clergy. Successive reforms of the second half of the nineteenth century have transformed the internal organization of the Church, now suffering a process of "rationalization " but also to impose state control at all levels.

The reorganization process in the Church life in the principality (later in Romania) has affected not only monahi18 but ordinary clergy. As a result of secularization, the Church runs most of its heritage and the support of the clergy is a problem becoming more dramatic. Long debate, a lay clergy Law was adopted only in 1893. As a result, the proportion of clergy in the population was gradually limited, purely economic considerations of efficiency: the number of parishes, and the ordinations was limited. The law defines the number of parishes in 3,031, he may only increase with population growth (a parish at least 400 families of believers), priests who exceed this number being considered supernumerary existing continuing to work in parishes, but he limited the number of ordinations. By this law, the clergy were treated as servants. It was also crept differentiation criterion based clerical education. The law establishes the principle of funding from the state budget (or, depending on the category, the local community) to pay the priests, differentiated by type of community (urban/rural), depending on education (seminar/university) and the role fulfilled parish (parish priest or auxiliary) (Dragusin, 1957: 92; Bujoreanu, 1872: 172).

With population growth, the number of parishes increased again so that in 1913 there were 3,834 parishes from the 3,031 set twenty years ago in law lay clergy. The number of churches in the same period amounted to 6766 (including churches subsidiaries) and the number of priests had approx. 380,020.

In the census of 1860, the data analyzed by Leonida Colescu the United Principalities were registered 30,417 traders, 59,869 artisans, 22,811 civil servants, 6,066 teachers, 9,702 priests, laity, 318 lawyers. Although the statute could not be personal property, due to the training, we can consider among the bourgeoisie and a number of 8,750 monks and nuns.

"Middle class" of rural peasants were represented by the 10-50 hectares of land owners, merchants, priests and teachers. They are supplemented by tenants who stood by income class approached the large landowners.

The economic situation of this social class was hard. Thus, between 1860 and 1912, the percentage of stone and brick farmhouses evolved from 1.8 to 9.5% and 1,4 rooms, to 2,2. They are added to 270,000 homes with a single room and 42 000 huts.

Social and political status of Romania, in the first decade and a half of the twentieth century show the concentration of political power is in the hands of large landowners, followed by bourgeois and wealthy peasantry, a large gap from the general population, to bear taxation regime compacts, military obligations, living in poor conditions with limited literacy education. Exponents current conservative rhetoric (especially Constantine Argetoianu) continue to be redundant in the sense that they require "educating peasants" and agrarian reform and election, while the Liberals, from 1913, considered in their political program that was necessary to reduce this gap. It is in this context that the National Liberal Party took the initiative constitutional revision in 1914, the purpose of the expropriation of landowners within certain limits and adopting single Electoral College Knowing the book. The initiative was designed to bring new doctrinal clarifications to the Conservative Party and a tough political battle in Parliament, the press, public meetings. If all politicians recognized the need to amend the disparity between the high and the low property and improve the situation of the peasantry by assignment, differences arise as to how to achieve them. Liberals were in power advocates expropriation landowners, specifically the large land properties, the compensation limits agreed with the opinion of conservatives and Democrats (Maciu, 1973: 343). Conservative Party's traditional supporters considered sufficient allotment lands in possession of state lands dead hand, purchased the Rural House, expropriation is illegitimate, unnecessary and dangerous to the mood of the Romanian society. Apart from the principle of unique college supported by liberals, conservatives democrats they thought more suitable system of two colleges, and traditional conservatives preferred the existing system of three electoral colleges.

With the outbreak of World War I, the reforms have been left in the background. In 1917, when two-thirds of the national territory was occupied by the enemy, the government, the army and some people were in Moldova, the Parliament of Iasi, due to the need to ensure the participation enlivened the last resistance of the peasants, but also dangerous because of spectrum order of destabilization caused by the socialist revolution in Russia, decided to resume the project of reforms in a more extensive manner. They were considered the expropriation of more than 2 million ha and universal suffrage. Despite the continuing political confrontations and differences, the results have exceeded expectations. Romanian society, in addition to the need for democratization, has to face the possibility of materializing national aspirations of unity of all Romanians who, at the end of the war, became a reality. If representatives of the National Liberal Party have found the ability to adapt to weather through these reforms, Conservative leaders were aware that the struggle for survival, which in early interwar became impossible, and because the label of "collaborationist" given to the Marghiloman government, which remained in Bucharest (Iosa & Lungu, 1977: 243).

Expropriation decrees of 15 and 16 December 1918 (followed by the agrarian reform laws of 17 and 30 July 1921) and the organization in November 1919 the first parliamentary general elections based on universal suffrage represented the end of a political process started in, 1864. Need to strengthen the Romanian national state impose a new Constitution with a strong democratic, on 29 March 1923. Basically, we believe that the principles of the Constitution of 1866 dominated the Basic Law of 1923, that in fact it was not only an improved version, driven by new social and political-territorial configuration of Romania.

In 1921, Romania had the major reform of its entire history. Were expropriated properties bigger than 250 ha, in plain, 100 ha of the properties rented at the date of introduction of law. Until 1937, in Romania were expropriated 4 millions ha. In Romania only 2700 properties had more than 500 ha, and 9,500 properties under 100 ha (Hitchins, 1994: 363-364).

This was generally speaking the situation of the land property until the end of democracy in 1945.

The nationalization and collectivization (1945-1952)

In the field of the land property, the process of land nationalization started in 1945 being known as "collectivization". Initially, this reform was imagined to take 1.5 million ha from the owners who detained properties over 50 ha to be redistributed to peasants, which conducted at a medium land property of 5 ha.

In 1948, the nationalization was extended to all landowners with no regard to the dimension of the property. A small number of peasant in the mountain who remained un-collectivized. The action of "collectivization" consisted in "convincing" peasants to enter collective farms, until 1948, by imposing a quota of their crop benefits to enter in the state property (Directorate General for Internal Policies policy department, 2010: 98).

After 1952, the state authorities used force and imprisonment against the peasants which refused the idea of collectivization.

The democratical renaissance

At the end of 1989 state collective farms had 86% of the agricultural land of Romania (Directorate General for Internal Policies policy department, 2010: 98).

In the contemporary history of Romania we can make a distinction between three major periods (Scurtu, 2010: 123):

I. 1989-1996--the period of a left-wing governance, on which the problem of the restitution was not considered a priority

II. 1996-2000--restitutio in integrum--a right-wing governance which did not succeeded to accomplish this difficult task

III. 2000-2005--the period of a left wing governance in which the major objective was the entrance of Romania in NATO and EU when the reforms were strongly recommended by the European Commission.

IV. 2005-2010--the problems of restitution of the property were in attention of CEDO and other international judgment institutions.

The main legislative acts of the restitution of the property were the Governmental Decrees (42 and 43 in 1990) by granting property rights to members of the collective farms (CAP) within the limits of 0.5 ha per property.

In 1991, Law 18/1991 on land resources was issued to remove partially the Decree 42/1990. The law entrusted local commissions a the level of each commune, town or municipality, under the supervision of a county level commission appointed and lead by the prefect. He coordinated local commissions which were led by the mayor/deputy mayor and was formed of the general secretary of the town hall, citizens representatives of property owners, specialists in forestry, water, agriculture, legal advisers working in the town hall or other state institutions.

In 1991, the entrusted people could receive lots of up to 10 ha per person with additional limits on land ownership to 100 ha per family, but no less than 0.5 ha, whit interdiction to sell the land for 10 years.

During the communist regime, the agricultural sector was divided into state farms IAS (28%, 411 state farms), and collective farms CAP (65%, 3,776 cooperatives).

If we discuss the legislation progress, we consider that the major milestones are the Law on Land, Law no.18/1991, Law 1/2000 and the Law no. 247/2005.

We generally consider that the institutional and legislative background applicable to the land ownership in Romania has been major influenced by the political factor.

The communist regime of Romania used as a radical measure the nationalisation of the land property. After the Revolution of 1989, the restitution of the land was considered by the contemporaries as a natural measure, because it could influence the situation of the social structure of Romania.

The destruction of the former Agricultural Production Cooperatives and the State Agricultural Enterprises conducted to the restitution of many land properties Our study proposes to reliefate the way in which Romanian society was influenced by the partial reconstruction of the private property. The communist regime influenced the majority of young people to become workers and cooperator peasants. After the Revolution, the clash of the great industrial centers generated a return in the rural area of a great part of people which lived in the urban area, but this migration could not change radically the perspective of the social structure of Romania (Mogos, National Journal: 2011).

The government of the Romania tried to make a procedure to keep the land united, as in process of "comassation". In Romania, the restitution of the property was the object of the following institutions: National Authority for Property Restitution, Ministry of Agriculture, National Agency of Cadastre and Real Estate Publicity Fund "Property" R.A.P.P.S., The Union Notaries and the National Order of Surveyors.

Acording to the Law 18/1991 counties Covasna, Sibiu, Prahova, Braila, Buzau, Constanta Tulcea, Bistrita-Nasaud, Neamt, Bihor, Salaj, Satu Mare, Arad, Hunedoara, Timic, Dolj accomplished their restitution of the woods surfaces.

According to Law 1/2000, the restitution of woods properties were accomplished until 2005 in counties: Sibiu, Constanta, Carac-Severin, Dolj ci Mehedinti. In other counties, the process passed the year 2005, being enregistred the following situations: Braila (28.7%), Buzau (55.5%), Bacau (51.9%), Iaci (47.9%), Bihor (56.8%), Satu Mare (57.6%), Arad (66.6%), ci Hunedoara (28.5 %) (Nichiforel, 2005: 35).

The total percentage in the field of woods properties restitution was 82.7% (85.2% physical persons, 86.4% associations, 89.0% churches and 78,7 territorial-administrative units).

Concerning the PIB, the agriculture and the woods industry offered in 1989 13.7 % and in 2000-11.4% (Nichiforel, 2005: 35).

In 1989 in the rural area were 27.5% of population and in 2000, the percentage grew up at 40.6%.

In 2000, the private sector had 8.098,3 thousand ha agricultural field, from 9379,74 ha, 500 thousand ha of wine, fruit land.

From 736 IAS (State Industrial Enterprises) in 1989, in 2000, were privatized 113 and 158 closed by judicial decision, 67 were in procedure of closing and 398 were in process of privatization (Position Document of Romania: 23-25).

The laws adopted in Romania had many articles which did not offer a clearly determination.

In the first ten years after the revolution, in Romania produced a change in the occupational profile of Romania. After closing of the great industrial centers, after the failure of many privatisation procedures, a lot of the inhabitants of the cities came in the rural areas at the houses of their parents.

In 2010, from a total surface of 14,8 millions ha, 6,8 millions are not laboured (Batca, Evenement of the Day: 2011). 30 % of the active population works in agriculture. The failure of the privatisation, and of the restitution process conducted to the small surfaces, the absence of modern technology and the dependence of the crop by the evolution of the weather.

The intriduction of the SAPARD funds helped the development of the IMM (Midle and Small Entreprises) in rural area. It was generalised the system of rent. In the wine, fruits and vegetables area, there were a lot of factories closed and a good part of production goes to the sustenability of the small peasant property.

We can consider as a conclusion that the governments of Romania did not have the intention to make a real procedure of restitution. It was more important to ensure a "political capital", for the former workers and peasants instead of restitution to former landowners many of them living across the frontiers of the country.


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Article Info

Received: July 19 2014

Accepted: August 30 2014

Florin Nacu, PhD, "CS Nicolaescu Plopsor" Social Humanistic Research Institute, Craiova, Phone: 0040761617067, E-mail:
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Title Annotation:Original Paper
Author:Nacu, Florin
Publication:Revista de Stiinte Politice
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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