1937 Romanian general election

General elections were held in Romania in December 1937.[1] The Chamber of Deputies was elected on 20 December, whilst the Senate was elected in three stages on 22, 28 and 30 December.[1] Voting was by universal male vote,[2] making them the last elections held before female suffrage was introduced.

1937 Romanian general election

 1933 20 December 1937 (1937-12-20) 1939 

All 387 seats in the Chamber of Deputies
All 113 seats in the Senate
  First party Second party
Leader Dinu Brătianu Iuliu Maniu
Leader since 1934 1937
Last election 105 S / 300 D 0 S / 29 D
Seats won 97 S / 152 D 10 S / 86 D
Seat change 8 S / 148 D 10 S / 57 D
Popular vote 1,103,353 D 626,612 D
Percentage 36.5% D 20.7% D

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Corneliu Zelea Codreanu Octavian Goga
Party TpȚ PNC
Leader since 1933 1935
Last election New party 0 S / 18 D
Seats won 4 S / 66 D 0 S / 39 D
Seat change 4 S / 66 D 0 S / 21 D
Popular vote 478,378 D 281,167 D
Percentage 15.8% D 9.3% D

Prime Minister before election

Gheorghe Tătărescu

Elected Prime Minister

Octavian Goga

The National Liberal Party remained the largest party, winning 152 of the 387 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 97 of the 112 the Senate seats. The party's unexpectedly poor showing prevented it from creating a government on its own (obtaining 40% of the vote would have automatically awarded them a large parliamentary majority), and a coalition with their arch-rivals, the second-placed National Peasants' Party or with the third-placed Iron Guard's Everything for the Country Party, was not taken in consideration. King Carol II invited the fascist Octavian Goga to form a government, though his National Christian Party finished fourth and had an avowedly anti-Semitic platform. Goga's government was formed on 29 December 1937.

Unlike all previous Romanian elections organised by partisan governments, the 1937 result did not provide the governing party—in this case, the National Liberals—with an outright majority. They were the last elections held under the nominally democratic 1923 Constitution, and the last free multi-party elections until 1990.[3]

Results of the 1937 general elections at county level

Electoral system

The members of the Chamber of Deputies were elected from multi-member constituencies with between two and twenty seats. Seats were allocated on a proportional basis, unless a party received over 40% of the vote nationally. If this happened, the party in question was awarded half of the seats in each constituency, with the other half divided proportionally amongst the all parties (including the victorious one), with an electoral threshold of 2%.[4]

The Senate was elected on a plurality basis. Voters had to be at least 21 to vote in the Chamber elections and 25 to vote in Senate elections. Candidates for both bodies had to be at least 40 years old.[4]


The campaign was marred by violent clashes between the two fascist groups, the National Christian Party's Lăncieri and the Iron Guard.[5] During the first round, clashes occurred at Orhei and Târgu Mureş, when four were killed and which led to 300 arrests.

After the vote, the Electoral Commission surprised observers by deciding, in its allocation of seats by proportional representation, to count the entire country as one district, rather than use smaller districts, as had been the norm.


Party Chamber Senate
Votes % Seats +/– Votes % Seats +/–
National Liberal Party1,103,35336.5152–14897–8
National Peasants' Party626,61220.786+5710+10
Everything for the Country Party478,37815.866New4New
National Christian Party281,1679.339+2100
Magyar Party136,1394.519+112–1
National Liberal Party-Brătianu119,3613.916+600
Radical Peasants' Party69,1982.39+300
Agrarian Union Party52,1011.70–500
Jewish Party43,6811.40000
German Party43,6121.40New0New
Social Democratic Party28,8401.00000
People's Party25,5670.80000
Traders Council1,2190.00000
Other parties16,9120.600
Invalid/blank votes45,555
Registered voters/turnout4,649,16366.1
Source: Sternberger et al.,[6] Nohlen & Stöver

Chamber of Deputies:

39 66 9 16 19 86 152


4 10 97


At Goga's request, Carol dissolved parliament on 18 January 1938 with a view toward holding new elections that winter. However, Carol became alarmed with overtures being made by the National Christian Party towards the Iron Guard,[7] and on 10 February 1938, he ended Goga's government after only 45 days, suspended the Constitution, canceled the elections, and instituted a royal dictatorship. Elections were not held until 1939, at which voters were presented with a single list from Carol's National Renaissance Front.

By the time of the next elections held under the 1923 Constitution, in 1946, Romania had passed through three dictatorships and a fourth, Communist one was rapidly consolidating.


  1. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1591 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. Nohlen & Stöver, p1610-1611
  3. Reaves, Joseph A. Romanians Hope Free Elections Mark Revolution's Next Stage. Chicago Tribune, 1990-03-30.
  4. Nohlen & Stöver, p1582
  5. Background and Precursors to the Holocaust, p. 26
  6. Dolf Sternberger, Bernhard Vogel, Dieter Nohlen & Klaus Landfried (1978) Die Wahl der Parlamente: Band I: Europa, Zweiter Halbband, pp1062–1064
  7. Michael Mann, Fascists, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 288-289
  • Kurt W. Treptow (1996) "Alegerile din decembrie 1937 şi instaurarea dictaturii regale" in Romania and World War II, Centrul de Studii Româneşti, Iaşi (in Romanian)
  • "4 Die as Rumania Votes", The New York Times, 21 December 1937, p18
  • "Cabinet Aims to Rule Rumania", The New York Times, 24 December 1937, p4