National Salvation Front (Romania)

The National Salvation Front ( Romanian : Frontul Salvării Naţionale , FSN ) is the name of a political organization that was the governing body of Romania in the first days after the Romanian Revolution in 1989. It has become a political party, and won the 1990 election under the leadership of then-President Ion Iliescu .

In 1992, some members of the Front, including President Iliescu, broke away from it, forming the Democratic National Salvation Front . In 1993 the FSN was renamed as the Democratic Party .

The National Salvation Front is the common ancestor of the two most active political parties in Romania today: the Social Democratic Party and the National Liberal Party .


Training and rise to power

In March 1989 six prominent members of the Romanian Communist Party wrote an open letter to President Nicolae Ceauşescu That criticised His abuses of power and his economic policies. The so-called “ Letter of the Six “ was circulated in the Western media and read on Radio Free Europe .

In 1989, before the 14th Congress of the Romanian Communist Party, two letters signed „National Salvation Front“ began circulating. They were read on Radio Free Europe on 27 August and 8 November. [1] Ceauşescu’s mismanagement of the economy and human rights violations , while the second letter appealed to the Congress not to re-elect Ceauşescu. [1]

After the Romanian Revolution , the same name led to the question of whether the National Salvation Front existed as an underground organization. According to Silviu Brucan , this was not the case, as the letters were written by Alexandru Melian, a professor at the University of Bucharest , who had no connection to the leaders of the NSF. [1] This was contradicted by Nicolae Militaru , who claimed that he, together with Ion Iliescu, led a clandestine National Salvation Front which asked Melian to write this appeal. [2]

Ion Iliescu with FSN members Dumitru Mazilu (right) and Petre Roman (right) on December 23, 1989, one day after the formation of the FSN.

The creation of the FSN was officially announced to the public by Ion Iliescu in radio and TV addresses on December 22, 1989, after the overthrow of Ceauşescu. The FSN took power from the communist authorities . Within four days, the FSN formed an interim government with Ion Iliescu being the President and Petre Roman as interim Prime Minister. [3] The initial membership of FSN came from various backgrounds: intellectuals, students, army officers, but the leaders were mostly former Communist officials (see List of members of the National Salvation Front Council). [4]

Interim government

On 27 December, the FSN decrees the abolition of the one-party system and the calling of free elections. [4] Shortly afterwards, parties claiming to be the most important pre-communist Romanian parties, the National Peasants‘ Party (PN) and the National Liberal Party (PNL), were registered.

At first, the FSN announced that it would not be nominating candidates in the forthcoming elections. [4] However, Silviu Brucan then launched the concept of the big party and supported the transformation of the FSN into a political party. [5] Some members of FSN, like Dumitru Mazilu, Mircea Dinescu , Ion Caramitru , Andrei Pleşu , Dan Hăulică, Gabriel Liiceanu , Doina Cornearesigned before FSN became a political party. [6] [7]

On February 6, 1990, the FSN, is becoming a political party, in order to be able to run in the upcoming elections. Except for a few newspapers, FSN had extensive control over the Romanian mass media, particularly the state owned television company. [4]

Anti-FSN demonstrations were mounted by the opposition parties PNŢCD and PNL in late January and late February 1990, which degenerated into violence against state authorities. In turn, Iliescu called on the working class to support the FSN against what he noted as „fascist forces, trying to destabilize the country“. This has been in the process of being named after the first and second Mineriads .

However, to the other party The new governing body, the Provisional National Unity Council ( Consiliul Provizoriu of Uniune Naţională , CPUN), still dominated by FSN, would run the country from early February 1990 until the elections. [4]

Another, much larger, demonstration (the Golaniad ) against FSN’s participation in the elections was organized in April 1990 and lasted 52 days, until 13-15 June, when it was violently repressed by the third Mineriad . [8]

First elected government

The FSN had strong support among the peasants and the urban industrial workers, while the PNL and PNCDC had strong support among the intellectuals. [9]

Since the opposition has not had access to the state-owned media, the FSN has no specific program in the elections, being a catch-all party . [10]

FSN and its candidate Ion Iliescu comfortably won the legislative and presidential elections on May 20, 1990, to a majority in both the Assembly of Deputies and the Senate . Petre Roman remained Prime Minister, and its government started cautious economic reforms.


After growing tensions between Iliescu and Roman, on April 7, 1992, Iliescu and many other members left the FSN and created the National Democratic Salvation Front ( Frontul Democrat al Salvării Naţionale , FDSN), which eventually developed to the current Social Democratic Party ( Social Partidul Democrat , PSD).

Petre Roman remained leader of the FSN. On 28 May 1993, the party was renamed Democratic Party – National Salvation Front ( Partidul Democrat – Frontul Salvării Naţionale , PD-FSN), before shortening its name to Democratic Party (PD).


The National Salvation Front has had a major impact on post-1989 Romanian politics . The parties that emerged from the National Salvation Front (the Social Democratic Party , at that time Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and the Democratic Liberal Party , at that time Democratic Party) or participated in government coalitions from 1990 until today.

The President Traian Băsescu entered politics as an FSN member and served as Minister of Transport in several FSN governments. It is worth noting what Băsescu (from the Democratic Party ) remarked rhetorically in a live TV debate with Adrian Năstase (from the Social Democratic Party ) before the 2004 run-off presidential election : „You know what is Romania’s greatest curse is right now? that Romanians have to choose between forming Communist Party members. “

Election results

Assembly of deputies

year votes percentage seats Percentage of seats
1990 9089659 66.31% 263 66.41%
1992 1108500 10.19% 43 13.11%


year votes percentage seats Percentage of seats
1990 9353006 67.02% 91 76.47%
1992 1139033 10.38% 18 12.58%


year # candidate 1st round votes  % 2nd round votes  %
1990 1st Ion Iliescu 12232498 85.07%


  • Steven D. Roper, Romania: The Unfinished Revolution , Routledge, 2000, ISBN  90-5823-027-9
  • Dennis Deletant, Ceauşescu and the Securitate: Coercion and Dissent in Romania , 1965-1989, ME Sharpe, London, 1995, ISBN  1-56324-633-3 .
  1. ^ Jump up to:c Deletant, p.290
  2. Jump up^ Deletant, p.291
  3. Jump up^ Roper, p.65-66
  4. ^ Jump up to:e Roper, p. 66
  5. Jump up^ Vladimir Tismaneanu , Dubioasa convert to him Silviu Brucan („The Dubious Conversion of Silviu Brucan“)Archived9 March 2007 at theWayback Machine., InRevista 22, 29 September 2006
  6. Jump up^ Pamfletarul Dinescu acts at the Alianţă Archived15 October 2007 at theWayback Machine., Evenimentul Zilei , 8 May 2006
  7. Jump up^ „Doina Cornea recalls National Council of the FSN“, România Liberă , 24 January 1990
  8. Jump up^ Roper, p.68
  9. Jump up^ Roper, p.67
  10. Jump up^ Roper, p.68