Although the Constitution asserted the right of all citizens eighteen years of age and older to participate in the election of all representative bodies with a universal, direct, equal, and secret vote, it did not determine how elections were to be organized or specify who was responsible for conducting them. The Constitution did declare, however, that the right to nominate candidates belonged to the PCR, as well as to all labor unions, cooperatives, youth and women's leagues, cultural associations, and other mass organizations.
Elections were organized under the direction of the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front, the national entity that incorporated the country's numerous mass organizations under the leadership of the PCR. All candidates for elective office needed the approval of the front in order to be placed on the ballot.
The Socialist Democracy and Unity Front was established in November 1968 under the original name of the Socialist Unity Front. It succeeded the People's Democratic Front, which had existed since the communists began to organize effectively during World War II. The Socialist Democracy and Unity Front listed among its member organizations, in addition to the PCR, the labor unions; cooperative farm organizations; consumer cooperatives; professional, scientific, and cultural associations; student, youth, women's, and veteran's organizations; religious bodies; and representatives of Hungarian, German, Serbian, and Ukrainian minorities. In the late 1980s, chairing the organization was among Ceausescu's many official duties. In addition to a chairperson, the front had an executive chairman, one first vice chairman and six other vice chairmen, two secretaries and eighteen members.
The Socialist Democracy and Unity Front conducted a general election in March 1985, when 369 deputies to the GNA were elected. Of the 15,733,060 registered voters, 97.8 percent voted for front candidates, while 2.3 percent voted against them--about 33 percent more than in 1980, according to published results. Although this figure was the highest number of dissenting votes ever recorded, outside observers contended that the percentage would have been much higher in an open election.
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