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National Liberal Party (Romania)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

National Liberal Party
Partidul Național Liberal
PresidentFlorin Cîțu
Secretary-GeneralDan Vîlceanu
First-Vice PresidentsRareș Bogdan
Lucian Bode
Gheorghe Flutur
Iulian Dumitrescu
Leader in the SenateCătălin-Daniel Fenechiu
Leader in the Chamber of DeputiesFlorin Roman
Leader in the European ParliamentRareș Bogdan
Founded15 January 1990 (re-established after the Romanian Revolution)[2][3]
Preceded byNational Liberal Party
HeadquartersModrogan nr 1, Sector 1, Bucharest, Romania
Student wingLiberal Student Clubs (CSL)
Youth wingNational Liberal Youth (TNL)
Women's wingLiberal Women National Organisation (ONFL)
Membership (2018)253,895[6][better source needed]
Political positionCentre[7] to centre-right[8][9]
National affiliationRomanian Democratic Convention
(1991–1992; 1993–1999)[10]
Justice and Truth Alliance
Centre Right Alliance
Social Liberal Union
Christian Liberal Alliance (2014)
National Coalition for Romania (CNR) (2021–present)
European affiliationEuropean People's Party[b]
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
European Parliament groupEuropean People's Party
Colours  Yellow
SloganPrin noi înșine!
("Through Ourselves!")
"Dewy Green"
38 / 136
Chamber of Deputies
79 / 330
European Parliament
10 / 33
1,232 / 3,176
County Presidents
17 / 41
County Councilors
474 / 1,340
Local Council Councilors
14,182 / 39,900
8 / 24

a. ^ + the current Prime Minister


b. Previously a member of the Alliance for Europe of the Nations (until 2006) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (for the period 2007–2014)

The National Liberal Party (Romanian: Partidul Național Liberal, PNL) is the largest nominally centre-right conservative-liberal[17] and liberal-conservative[18] political party in Romania, Refounded in mid January 1990, shortly after the Revolution of 1989 which culminated in the fall of communism in Romania, it claims the legacy of the major political party of the same name, active between 1875 and 1947 in the Kingdom of Romania. Based on this legacy, it often presents itself as the first formally constituted political party in the country and the oldest party from the family of European liberal parties.[19]

Until 2014, the PNL was a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).[20] The party statutes adopted in June 2014 dropped any reference to international affiliation, consequently most of its MEPs joined the European People's Party Group (EPP) in the European Parliament.

On 12 September 2014, it was admitted as a full member of the European People's Party (EPP),[21] and subsequently merged with the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL). The party was also a member of the Liberal International (LI)[22] before switching to Centrist Democrat International (CDI).[23] Currently, it is the second-largest party in the Romanian Parliament, with 79 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 38 in the Senate (after the foundation of Orban's faction), behind the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD). Additionally, the party currently has the largest number of MEPs in the European Parliament on behalf of Romania (more specifically 10 out of 33).

At local political level, the PNL has been very closely associated with either the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR), more specifically in parts of Banat and Transylvania, or, formerly, with the Christian Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNȚ-CD), in southern Romania.

After it won the 2020 local elections, the PNL became the first political party in Transylvania, Banat, and Bukovina, establishing new political alliances at national level with, most notably, USR PLUS shortly thereafter. Moreover, as of 2021, the PNL also holds the largest amount of incumbent county councillors and local councillors nationwide, making it, in these regards, the most influential political party in Romania at local level. Nonetheless, concerning the total amount of mayors, the PNL comes second behind the PSD.

In the meantime, as of late 2021, the PNL broke the alliance with USR PLUS (now simply USR) and continued under the party leader Cîțu a minority government alongside the Hungarian UDMR/RMDSZ (with the support of President Klaus Iohannis), contributing to the ongoing 2021 Romanian political crisis, until successfully negotiating with their historical adversaries PSD in early November 2021 a grand coalition government between themselves and UDMR/RMDSZ.[24]


Re-foundation and first governing experiences after the 1989 Romanian Revolution (1990–2000)

Flowchart showcasing the liberal political groups which seceded from and were subsequently integrated within the National Liberal Party during the 1990s (all with the exception of PNL-C).
Flowchart showcasing the liberal political groups which seceded from and were subsequently integrated within the National Liberal Party during the 1990s (all with the exception of PNL-C).

The National Liberal Party of Romania (PNL) was re-founded in January 1990, a few days after the end of the violent Romanian Revolution. During the early 1990s, the party primarily revolved around the presidencies of Radu Câmpeanu and Mircea Ionescu-Quintus, both former members of the historical PNL and liberal youth leaders during the interwar period as well as during and shortly after World War II.

At the 1990 general elections, the PNL became the third largest party in the Parliament of Romania and its then re-founding leader, Radu Câmpeanu, finished second in the same year's presidential elections, with 10.6% of the cast votes, behind Ion Iliescu. In December 1990, the Socialist Liberal Party (PSL) led by Niculae Cerveni established an alliance with the PNL and the latter became vice-president of the PNL led by Câmpeanu at that time.[25]

Shortly afterwards, at the main request and most notably alongside the Christian Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNȚ-CD), but to a lesser extent also with other smaller center-right parties and NGOs, the PNL managed to form the Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR) in an effort to assemble a stronger collective opposition and alternative governing body to then ruling National Salvation Front (FSN), which was, in many ways, the heir of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR). However, prior to the 1992 general elections, Câmpeanu decided to withdraw the party from the CDR electoral alliance and instead compete as a stand-alone political force. One of the main reasons for doing so was Câmpeanu's reluctance for the PNL to run on common lists with the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR).

Central headquarters of the PNL located on Modrogan Alley, Bucharest (September 2014)
Central headquarters of the PNL located on Modrogan Alley, Bucharest (September 2014)

This had ultimately proven to be an eventual major strategic error for the PNL, as the party did not manage to surpass the needed electoral threshold for parliamentary presence and as such was forced to enter extra-parliamentary opposition for the period 1992–1996. Furthermore, this political decision also resulted in several splinter factions leaving the main party, with some PNL deflecting groups opting to remain within the CDR while others still supporting Câmpeanu's side in a new party which was called PNL-C (Romanian: Partidul Național Liberal-Câmpeanu). Therefore, the factions which deflected from the main PNL and aligned themselves with the CDR were PNL-CD (led by Niculae Cerveni), PNL-AT, and PL '93. Other minor liberal political parties such as PAC and UFD (which later merged into the main PNL) were also part of the CDR throughout the late 1990s.

Nevertheless, after a change of leadership that saw Ionescu-Quintus as the new party leader elected in 1995, the PNL contested the 1996 general election once again as part of the CDR.[26] The 1996 general elections represented the first peaceful transition of power in post-1989 Romania, with the PNL, PNȚ-CD, Democratic Party (PD), and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) forming a grand coalition that pushed the PDSR (formerly the FSN and FDSN) in opposition for the period 1996–2000. Furthermore, the presidency was also won by the CDR's common candidate, more specifically Emil Constantinescu, who received support on behalf of all of the alliance's constituent parties (including the PNL political groups therein).

Opposition and second governing experiences (2000–2010)

Between 1996 and 2000, because of the lack of political coherence within the parties of the governing CDR coalition and the multiple changes of cabinets that followed throughout this entire period of time, the PNL decided once more to withdraw from the alliance just before the 2000 general election and, consequently, to compete alone instead. This time, the party managed to gain parliamentary presence but failed to form another centre-right government, finishing fourth in the legislative elections and third in the presidential election. However, a splinter group founded by Dan Amedeo Lăzărescu and led by Decebal Traian Remeș which was called PNL-T (Romanian: PNL Tradițional) decided to remain within CDR 2000 and contest that year's general election by supporting Mugur Isărescu as presidential candidate.

Therefore, during the mid 2000s, the PNL joined forces with the PD in order to form the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA)[26] so as to compete in the 2004 general election as an alternative to the then ruling PSD (formerly PDSR) government. The alliance managed to finish second by popular vote in the Parliament, subsequently form a centre-right cabinet, and also win the presidency during the same year.

Until April 2007, the PNL was the largest member of the governing Justice and Truth Alliance (DA), which enjoyed a parliamentary majority due to an alliance between the PNL, PD, the Conservative Party (PC), and the UDMR.[27] In April 2007, then PNL Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, who was also the party president, formed a minority government solely with the UDMR and the remainder PD ministers were reshuffled. This caused internal opposition within the party and led to the scission of a splinter group which turned into a political party under Theodor Stolojan, more specifically the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), eventually merging with the PD to form the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL).

After the 2008 legislative election, the party placed third and entered official opposition, winning 19.74% seats in the Parliament, while the new grand coalition, formed by their former enlarged ally, the Democrat Liberals (PDL) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD), obtained roughly 70% together. At the 2009 presidential election, the National Liberal Party's then newly elected leader, Crin Antonescu, finished third in the first round and the party would still find itself in parliamentary opposition for the three next years to come up until the accession of the Social Liberal Union (USL) to governance in mid 2012.

At the same time, Klaus Iohannis, at that time solely FDGR/DFDR president, was nominated twice by the PNL (along with their most sturdy and powerful allies, the PSD and the PC) in 2009, but was rejected by then state president Traian Băsescu.[28][29]

Transition from USL to ACL and third governing experiences (2010–2020)

On 5 February 2011, the PNL formed the Social Liberal Union (USL) political alliance with the PSD, the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR), and the Conservative Party (PC).[30][31] The PNL subsequently exited the USL on 25 February 2014, disbanding the alliance and returning to opposition.[32] On 26 May 2014, following the 2014 European elections, then PNL party president Crin Antonescu announced he was seeking membership within the European People's Party (EPP).[33][34] At the beginning of the 8th European Parliament, 5 of the PNL MEPs sat with the EPP Group, and 1 with the ALDE Group,[35] who later became an independent MEP within ALDE. In late May 2014 the party agreed to a future merger with the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), with the two parties main short-time goal being to submit a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential election.[36] The PNL-PDL presidential candidate was agreed to run under an electoral banner called the Christian Liberal Alliance (ACL).[37][38]

On 27 June 2014, former PNL chairman Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu announced his intention to found a separate liberal party to run for president, stating opposition to the upcoming merger with the PDL.[39] The breakaway party, called the Liberal Reformist Party (PLR), was founded by Popescu-Tăriceanu on 3 July 2014.[40] On 17 July 2014, it was announced that the future merger of the PNL and PDL would retain the National Liberal Party name, while being situated in the PDL's existing headquarters in Bucharest, and would be legally registered by the end of 2014.[41] On 26 July 2014, a joint party congress of the PNL and PDL approved the merger.[42]

In the first round of the 2014 presidential election on 2 November 2014, ACL presidential candidate Klaus Iohannis, PNL party president and Mayor of Sibiu was the runner-up.[43] Iohannis won the runoff election held on 16 November 2014 with 54.5% of the total number of votes.[44][45] At the 2016 local elections and legislative elections, the PNL managed to finish second, behind the PSD, and consequently in continuous opposition until 2019 when it regained executive power.

Electoral banner of the PNL for the 2019 European Parliament elections (which the PNL subsequently won) displayed in Bucharest (March 2019). The Romanian caption translates to: 'Romania first' or 'Romania in the first row'.
Electoral banner of the PNL for the 2019 European Parliament elections (which the PNL subsequently won) displayed in Bucharest (March 2019). The Romanian caption translates to: 'Romania first' or 'Romania in the first row'.

Regarding the 2019 presidential election, the party previously announced its formal support for a second term of incumbent state president Klaus Iohannis in March 2018 along with an official designation of Ludovic Orban, current party president, for the position of Prime Minister should the PNL win the 2020 legislative elections.[46][47] In June 2018, at an open air press conference in his native Sibiu, Iohannis publicly announced his intention to run for a second presidential term.[48]

The year 2019 saw two minor parties adhering to the PNL, namely the PND (led by Daniel Fenechiu) and PACT (led by Sebastian Burduja), thereby increasing its total number of members. In late 2019, the National Liberal Party acceded to governance under a minority stand-alone government led by Orban which was voted twice by the Parliament (under, most notably, a confidence and supply agreement with USR and PMP as well as most ethnic minority parties, including most importantly the FDGR/DFDR). At national level, the greatest two challenges that the Orban cabinet tried to monitor, control, and solve are the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as its affiliated recession.

Brief alliance with USR PLUS and fourth governing experiences (2020–present)

Electoral banner of the PNL (bottom) for the 2020 Romanian legislative election displayed in Bucharest (November 2020). The Romanian caption translates to: 'We develop Romania #Succeeding! Together'.
Electoral banner of the PNL (bottom) for the 2020 Romanian legislative election displayed in Bucharest (November 2020). The Romanian caption translates to: 'We develop Romania #Succeeding! Together'.

The PNL ran in several electoral alliances with the 2020 USR-PLUS Alliance for the 2020 Romanian local elections, winning the mayor of Bucharest (along with several of the capital's sectors) as well as many other municipalities throughout the countryside. Shortly thereafter, the PNL decided to form local alliances with, most notably, USR PLUS, PMP, and FDGR/DFDR (as well as with two local branches of the PNȚ-CD and UDMR in Hunedoara County). After the 2020 Romanian legislative election, the party agreed to form a coalition government alongside USR PLUS and UDMR in order to reportedly provide a stable governance for the next 4 years in Romania.

Furthermore, incumbent party president Ludovic Orban decided to step down as Prime Minister in early December 2020, letting Nicolae Ciucă acting until the new coalition received the confidence vote in the Parliament after the 2020 legislative elections concluded with concrete, positive results on behalf of a future center-right government. Subsequently, the newly proposed Prime Minister on behalf of the PNL was Florin Cîțu, who previously served as the Minister of Public Finance in both Orban cabinets between 2019 and 2020. Therefore, Cîțu took office on 23 December 2020, after an overwhelming confidence vote in the Parliament (260 for in counterpart to 186 against).[49]

In the meantime, it has been announced that a new party congress will take place on 25 September 2021 with 5,000 delegates.[50] At the forthcoming congress, incumbent party president Ludovic Orban will face incumbent Prime Minister Florin Cîțu for the leadership of the party during the upcoming years (although it has been rumoured that Dan Motreanu, former Minister for Agriculture in the First Tăriceanu Cabinet between 2006 and 2007, would also announce his candidacy at a later point during 2021 but the latter eventually declined it).[51][52] Furthermore, this new congress will also determine the leadership of PNL at each and every level within the party nationwide. Nonetheless, up until the date of the congress, Orban will still remain party president. At the same time, the struggle for power within the PNL between Cîțu and Orban (each one along with their respective teams of supporters) considerably bogged down the pace of reforms applied by the government.

Involvement in the 2021 Romanian political crisis

Florin Vasile Cîțu, the Prime Minister of Romania from December 2020 until October 2021 (currently acting Prime Minister) and the current PNL president (May 2021).
Florin Vasile Cîțu, the Prime Minister of Romania from December 2020 until October 2021 (currently acting Prime Minister) and the current PNL president (May 2021).

During early September 2021, several weeks prior to the new congress of the party, USR PLUS decided to exit the Cîțu Cabinet in protest to Cîțu's dismissal of the Minister of Justice; the initial coalition consisting of three centre-right parties was thereby disbanded and reduced to two, with the USR PLUS officially entering parliamentary opposition and even publicly declaring that they will support any motion of no confidence against Cîțu in the future, deeming him responsible for creating a major governmental crisis in the process.

Moreover, according to USR PLUS, Cîțu is also responsible for legalizing massive theft from public procurement money with the approval of PNDL3 (overtaking, in this regard, even convicted former PSD leader Liviu Dragnea) in the prospect of bribing PNL mayors to side with him for the upcoming party congress on 25 September.[53][54][55]

In response, Cîțu stated: 'only this [three-party] coalition is feasible for Romania. It's that political setup that can handle European Union's recovery plan, our local development, and make use of EU money,' after an emergency meeting of the party. He also stated that 'this is my message for the coalition talks later today, we have all promised Romania's investments.'[56]

Additionally, in response to sacking the Justice Minister, Cîțu mentioned in a late night news briefing the following: 'I will not accept ministers in the Romanian government who oppose the modernisation of Romania. Blocking the activity of the government only because you do not agree to develop the communities, means violating the mandate given to you by the parliament through the governing programme.', referring to a 50 billion lei ($12 billion) local development infrastructure financing scheme aimed at modernizing decrepit infrastructure in the countryside and the plan which needed the justice ministry's seal of approval.[57]

Eventually, the PNL was helped to maintain a minority cabinet along with the UDMR after they boycotted the no confidence motion initiated by the USR PLUS and AUR, with the help of both PSD and UDMR parliamentary groups. In the meantime, Cîțu posted a video portraying himself as Superman on Instagram.[58] In response, the Romanian internet community made a video in which he was portrayed as the psychopathic supervillain Joker.[59] Moreover, Ludovic Orban hinted a psychiatric consultation for Cîțu, in reaction to the Instagram videoclip.[60]

In addition, it was also in 2021 that, at local political level, the PNL lost other former allies, more specifically the PMP, who veered towards PSD and PRO Romania, establishing new political alliances in some counties (most notably Caraș-Severin) with the two centre-left political parties.[61] In the meantime, former Deputy Prime Minister Dan Barna said that 'if USR PLUS will remain in opposition, it will win the electorate of the right [in 2024]'.[62] Additionally, Marcel Ciolacu, the incumbent president of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and thereby the leader of the largest oppositional party, stated on 20 September 2021 that PSD will vote for the no confidence motion initiated by the USR PLUS and AUR.[63] In the meantime, PNL president Ludovic Orban clearly stated that 'Cîțu could only remain Prime Minister with the support of PSD which would be a catastrophe for both Romania and the PNL.[64] In stark contrast to Orban's statement, Iohannis declared that he still supports Cîțu and that he has no reasons whatsoever for resigning or for being ousted.[65] Nonetheless, in late September 2021, DNA officially started the criminal investigation in Florin Cîțu's case on the grounds of abuse of office and incitement to abuse of office as Prime Minister.[66]

Several noteworthy Romanian journalists such as Cristian Tudor Popescu, Lucian Mîndruță, and Ramona Ursu have also criticized Cîțu and his actions as Prime Minister and have described themselves totally revolted with respect to why would he still be left to serve as Prime Minister.[67][68][69]

All throughout this period of time, the political crisis had severe results in the economy of the country, with the euro rising consistently above the leu, as reported by the National Bank of Romania (BNR) in the beginning of the autumn of 2021.[70] Furthermore, during late September 2021, the USD had also risen consistently above the RON, as the political crisis kept on lingering. In addition, the finance department of Bloomberg also noted the record inflation levels which rose to the highest charting positions in the last three years in Romania in early September 2021.[71]

As of 12 September 2021, most of the initial PNL-USR PLUS local alliances established after the 2020 local elections have been disbanded, with the USR PLUS entering official opposition at all local levels towards the PNL. The PNL also has a local governing alliance with the PSD in Ialomița.

Cîțu's leadership (September 2021–present)

On 25 September 2021, at the PNL congress held at Romexpo in Bucharest, Oltenian 'libertarian' Florin Vasile Cîțu was elected the 10th post-1989 president of the PNL with 2,878 votes out of 4,848 total delegates, amidst significant heavy fraud allegations claimed, most notably, by previous PNL president Ludovic Orban and subsequently by Adrian Veștea.[72][73] Nonetheless, Orban congratulated Cîțu but also said that he no longer has a partnership with Iohannis. Furthermore, he also stated that he resigns from the office of the President of the Chamber of Deputies.[74] The Romanian press had also cited Cîțu's triumph as a Pyrrhic victory as, on the one hand, PSD announced that they will vote the no confidence motion initiated by USR PLUS and AUR and, on the other hand, USR PLUS also stated that they will no longer want to govern under Cîțu.[75]

On 26 September 2021, the party's new leadership team under Cîțu has been voted, validated, and consequently established as well.[76] Shortly after the congress, on 27 September, former president Ludovic Orban stated that Cîțu became persona non grata for a huge number of Romanian citizens and that he doesn't understand he will no longer be PM for too long, only with the mercy of PSD.[77] In the meantime, the PNRR (part of the Next Generation EU package and short for Romanian: Planul Național de Redresare și Reziliență) was signed and adopted in Bucharest on the occasion of Ursula von der Leyen's visit, mandated by the European Commission.[78] The Romanian PNRR is the 5th Next Generation EU plan adopted by volume of funds and most of the work and successful negations on it were carried out by USR PLUS ministers, in particular Cristian Ghinea. Most opinion polls conducted so far register a significant drop of trust both in Cîțu as PM and in the PNL in the perspective of the next Romanian legislative election. In the meantime, PSD initiated its own motion of no confidence which is scheduled to be debated on 30 September and voted on 5 October.[79] In addition, former party president Valeriu Stoica accused the recent political behaviour of PNL in the following manner: 'PNL acts like PSD', further stating that the party is operating on a catch all ideology and consistent party switching as well as currently defying and breaching the constitution.[80]

On 5 October 2021, the Cîțu cabinet was ousted by an overwhelming vote stemming from the PSD, AUR, and USR at the no confidence motion debated and voted that day. The no confidence motion was voted by 281 MPs, the largest number of votes to dismiss a government in Romania's post-1989 history.[81] Nevertheless, Cîțu will still serve as acting Prime Minister until a new government will be validated by vote in the Parliament and then subsequently sworn in (i.e. for at least one week from October 5 until still incumbent President Klaus Iohannis will call for party consultations).[82] In the meantime, former PNL president Valeriu Stoica heavily criticized Iohannis for allowing 'mediocre people at the leadership of the party' since 2014 onwards.[83] He previously also stated that the PNL would demonstrate lack of political maturity if they will still propose Cîțu as Prime Minister at future party consultations scheduled to take place at the Cotroceni Palace.[84] At the same time, he mentioned that Iohannis should have that the political status quo imposed his resignation, avoiding as such the motion of no confidence.[85]

On 11 October, still incumbent President Klaus Iohannis nominated USR leader and former Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș to form a new government.[86] Cioloș was subsequently rejected by the parliament and Iohannis appointed previous acting PM Nicolae Ciucă instead on 21 October 2021.[87] In late October, relatively shortly after his dismissal, Cîțu's approval rate hit 7% nationwide, a negative record for him. Given the matter, Cîțu resorted to buying Facebook likes from countries such as Vietnam, the ones from the ex-Soviet Union and from the Arab world, partly according to an analysis by former Health minister Vlad Voiculescu of Save Romania Union (USR).[88][89] In early November 2021, journalist Lucian Mîndruță heavily criticized Iohannis and PNL for making an alliance with PSD, also stating that PSD is the only political party in post-1989 Romania which acceded to governance by 'walking on corpses', a reference to the dreadful demographic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Romania.[90][91]

In mid-early November 2021, several noteworthy political sources hinted a very probable merger of PMP with PNL sometime in the near future (although incumbent PMP president Cristian Diaconescu publicly dismissed this scenario on his Facebook page) and even a possible, hypothetical absorption of ALDE afterwards (paradoxically enough, thereby subsequently producing the return of Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu in the party he had left in 2015), just after the exclusion of Ludovic Orban from the party on 12 November 2021 who stated that 'he is [now] free to build a new political force'.[92][93] At an official level however, Cristian Diaconescu later stated that there are indeed negotiations between the delegations of the two parties for a 'common political project'.[94] Shortly afterwards, incumbent party president Cîțu stated, in the context of the ongoing negotiations with the PSD, that 'it is a major compromise that PNL does' (i.e. to make a government with PSD).[95] In stark contrast, former PNL president Orban stated that 'a monster is being built' (in reference to the subsequent hypothetical longtime alliance between PSD and PNL) and that he has the obligation to the people who voted for PNL to represent them, as such siding with USR in the process.[96] Subsequently, Diaconescu totally dismissed the possibility of a hypothetical merger between PMP and PNL during his term as PMP president, instead expecting a future invitation to governance, even though PMP is currently extra-parliamentary.[97] On 22 November 2021, Nicolae Ciucă was officially designated as PM by Klaus Iohannis.[98][99] Shortly afterwards, on 23 November 2021, former PNL president Ludovic Orban had officially resigned from the party along with 16 others PNL MPs.[100]

Scissions and mergers

Diagram showcasing the political evolution of the National Liberal Party (PNL), from 1990 until 2016.
Diagram showcasing the political evolution of the National Liberal Party (PNL), from 1990 until 2016.

Parties seceded from PNL

Parties absorbed by PNL


The party adheres to the doctrine of liberalism in the form of conservative liberalism and liberal conservatism, advocating both economic and social liberalization.[103] The party also takes a pro-European stance.[104] In recent years, it has focused more on economic liberalism and a shift to a more catch all platform. The National Liberal Party (PNL) also supports conservative initiatives and policies and the state in moral and religious issues, as well as the privatization and denationalization of the economy, a trend which is currently[when?] taking place quite rapidly in Romania, as in other post-communist economies in Central and Eastern Europe.

The party has factions of adherence to christian democracy, national liberalism and social conservatism.[105][106][107][108][109][110]

In economic regards, it deems significant the fact that taxes must be lowered and that the private sector of the national economy must be expanded and helped by a series of new laws in order to generate more value.[111] It also advocates a decentralization of Romania's political structure, with greater autonomy given to the eight development regions.


According to the statute, the leading organs of the party are the following:[112]


The Congress, or The General Assembly of the delegates of the party's members (Romanian: Congresul; Adunarea Generală a delegaţilor membrilor partidului) is the supreme authority in the party. It leads the party and takes decisions at national level. Its members are elected by the local (territorial) organizations, and The National Consillium. The Congress meets every four years, after the parliamentary elections, or at any time needed. The Congress is convoked either by the Permanent Delegation (see below), at the request of the Central Political Bureau, or at the request of at least half of the Territorial Permanent Delegations. The Congress elects the President of the National Liberal Party, the 15 vice-presidents of the Central Standing Bureau (7 with specific attributions and 8 responsible for the development regions, 23 judges of The Honor and Referee Court (Romanian: Curtea de Onoare şi Arbitraj), 7 members of The Central Committee of Censors (Romanian: Comisia Centrală de Cenzori).

The last congress took place at Romexpo in Bucharest on 25 September 2021, when the 10th post-1989 president of the party was elected being Florin Cîțu.[113]

Permanent Delegation

The Permanent Delegation (Romanian: Delegaţia Permanentă – DP) is the structure that leads the party between two Congresses. It meets monthly, or at any time needed. Its members are the following; the President of the National Liberal Party, the members of the Central Political Bureau, the President of the Senate of the party, the Secretary General of the National Liberal Party, the presidents of the two Chambers of the Parliament (if the officeholders are members of the PNL), the leaders of the National liberal Party's parliamentary groups, the Senators and Deputies, the MEPs, the Ministers, the President of the National Liberal Youth (TNL), the President of the Liberal Women Organisation (OFL), the President of the Liberal Student Clubs (CSL), the President of the League of the Local Elected Officeholders of the National Liberal Party (LAL PNL), the President of the Coordinating Council of the Municipality of Bucharest, the European Commissioner (if the officeholder is member of the PNL).

National Political Bureau

The National Political Bureau (Romanian: Biroul Politic Național – BPN) of the National Liberal Party (PNL) proposes the party's politics and coordinates its application. It ensures the party's day-to-day leadership, and it is composed by the following: the President of the party, the 15 vice-presidents (7 with specific charges, and 8 responsible for the development regions). At the BPC's meetings can assist, with consultative vote, the president of the Senate of the PNL, the Secretary-General of the PNL, the Presidents of the two Chambers of the Parliament (if the officeholders are members of the PNL), the leaders of the National liberal Party's parliamentary groups, the President of the TNL, the President of the OFL, the President of the CSL, the President of the League of the LAL, and the Ministers. The BPC meets weekly, or at any time needed, convoked by the president of the PNL.

According to Article 70 of the PNL Statute, the BPN coordinates and evaluates the objectives of the territorial branches, of the parliamentary groups; it negotiates political agreements (within the limits established by the DP); it coordinates the elections campaign; proposes sanctions according to the Statute; proposes to the DP the political strategy of the party; proposes the candidates for the central executive or public offices; for certain territorial units, proposes to the DP the candidates for the parliamentary elections; proposes to the DP the candidates for the European Parliament elections; proposes the DP to dissolve or dismiss, for exceptional reasons, the territorial branch, or the branch's president; convokes the DP; coordinates the activity of the permanent committees of the National Council, validates or invalidates the results of the elections for the territorial branches; appoints the Secretary-Executive, the Foreign Secretary, and Deputy-Secretaries-General.

The BPN is assisted, in the organizing activity by the Secretary General of the PNL. This office ensures the communication between the central organisms and the territorial branches, ensures the management of the party's assets, is responsible for the informational system. The Secretary-General is assisted by the Deputy-Secretaries-General, appointed by the BPC at the suggestion of the Secretary-General.

As of 2018, the National Political Bureau is composed of the following members:[114]

In normal conditions, the term of the BPN members ends during the Party's Congress, when the president leaves the presidium of the Congress. The president of the Standing Bureau of the Congress is, formally, the acting president of the party until the new president is elected. The last acting president of the National Liberal Party (PNL) was Mircea Ionescu-Quintus on 20 March 2009, when Crin Antonescu succeeded Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu.

National Council

The National Council (Romanian: Consiliul Naţional – CN) is the debate forum of the National Liberal Party between two Congresses. It reunites twice a year, or at any time necessary, convoked by the president, by the BPC, or at the request of at least half of its members. Its members are: DP, including the members with consultative vote; the Secretaries of State and the equivalent officeholders; the Prefects and Deputy-Prefects; Presidents and vice-presidents of the County Councils; Mayors and Deputy-Mayors of the county capitals, of the sectors of Bucharest, the General Mayor and General Deputy-Mayors of Bucharest; the vice-presidents and Secretaries-General of TNL, OFL, CSL, the Senate of the Party, LAL; honorary members of the party; the President of the structures that deal with specific issues; the Presidents of the CN.

The CN has the following competences: acts to fulfill the decisions of the Congress; adopts the Governing Program; adopts the programs and sectorial politics of the party; approves the reports of the specialty committees; names the candidate of the National Liberal Party for the Romanian Presidency; gives and retracts the quality of honorary member of the party.

According to Article 65 of the Statute, the CN is organized and functions through its permanent specialty committees, constituted on social and professional criteria. The committees constituted on social criteria promote the interests of the correspondent social category. The committees constituted on professional criteria state the sectorial politics and the public politics in major fields, to express the options and solutions proposed by the National Liberal Party.


The President of the National Liberal Party (PNL) is the guardian of the political programme of the party, of the respect of the statute, and the keeper of the unity and prestige of the party.


The Secretary-General ensures the communication between the central leading structures and the territorial ones, ensures the management of the assets of the party, is responsible for the informational system. The Secretary-General is helped in its activity by Deputy-Secretaries-General appointed by the BPC, upon the suggestion of the Secretary-General.

Other national structures

  • The Senate of the party – consulting organism for the president regarding the continuity and development of the liberal traditions and concepts;
  • Court of Honor and Arbitration – the supreme court of the party;
  • Central Committee of Censors – checks the management of the party;
  • Ethics Commission – analyzes the candidates proposed for the legislative elections and for the offices in the Government as well as other central offices;
  • National Liberal Youth – coordinates the activity specific to the youth structures in the territory;
  • League of the Local Elected Officeholders – coordinates the activity of the PNL members in the local public administration (mayors and deputy-mayors, local councilors, county councilors, county council presidents, and deputy-presidents);
  • Liberal Women Organisation – coordinates the activity of the territorial women organizations;
  • Liberal Student Clubs – promotes the liberal ideas and political program of the PNL through the students.

Local leading structures

The local leading structures of the National Liberal Party (PNL) are the following:

  • the General Assembly of the Members (Romanian: Adunarea Generală a membrilor – AG) – applies at local level the necessary measures for fulfilling the Program and Strategy.
  • the Standing Bureau of the organization (Romanian: Biroul Permanent – BP) – leads the organization between two General Assemblies.


Romanian law requires all parties to present a permanent sign and a permanent electoral sign. The former is used to identify the party's buildings and press releases, and the latter to identify the party's electoral materials and the candidates on the elections ballot. Usually they differ slightly.

The main element of the party is a blue arrow pointing to the upper right corner of a yellow square, and the letters P, N, and L in blue, tilted to the right. The position of the PNL with respect to the arrow depends on the type of symbol, as shown below.


Florin CîțuLudovic OrbanRaluca TurcanAlina GorghiuKlaus IohannisCrin AntonescuCălin Popescu-TăriceanuTheodor StolojanValeriu StoicaMircea Ionescu QuintusRadu CâmpeanuCommunist RomaniaDinu BrătianuIon DucaVintilă BrătianuIon I. C. BrătianuDimitrie SturdzaDumitru BrătianuIon Brătianu
  Also served as state vice president in the Provisional Council of National Unity (Romanian: Consiliul Provizoriu de Uniune Națională) during the early 1990s;[115]
  Also served as ad interim (i.e. acting) President;
  Also served as President;
  Also served as Prime Minister;
  Also served as Senate President.
Born - Died
Portrait Term start Term end Duration
1 Radu Câmpeanu1
Radu Câmpeanu.jpg
15 January 1990 28 February 1993 3 years, 1 month and 13 days
2 Mircea Ionescu-Quintus2
Mircea Ionescu-Quintus.jpg
28 February 1993 18 February 2001 7 years, 11 months and 21 days
3 Valeriu Stoica
Valeriu Stoica.JPG
18 February 2001 24 August 2002 1 year, 6 months and 6 days
4 Theodor Stolojan
Conventia PD-L 2013 - Theodor Stolojan (2).jpg
24 August 2002 2 October 2004 2 years, 1 month and 8 days
5 Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu
Victor Ponta la semnarea declaratiei politice privind infiintarea USL 2.0 - 14.11 (4) (15621866127) (cropped 2).jpg
2 October 2004 20 March 2009 4 years, 5 months and 18 days
6 Crin Antonescu
Crin Antonescu Senate of Poland 01 (cropped).JPG
20 March 2009 2 June 2014 5 years, 2 months and 13 days
7 Klaus Iohannis
Klaus Iohannis at EPP Summit, March 2015, Brussels (cropped).jpg
28 June 2014 18 December 2014 6 months and 16 days
8 Vasile Blaga3
Vasile Blaga 2012-10-18.jpg
18 December 2014 28 September 2016 1 year, 9 months and 10 days
Alina Gorghiu4
Alina Gorghiu - Crin Antonescu (8760663906) (cropped).jpg
18 December 2014 12 December 2016 1 year, 11 months and 24 days
Raluca Turcan
Conventia PD-L 2013 - Raluca Turcan (cropped).jpg
13 December 2016 17 June 2017 6 months and 4 days
9 Ludovic Orban5
EPP Summit, Sibiu, May 2019 (47021082334) (cropped).jpg
17 June 2017 25 September 2021 4 years, 3 months and 8 days
10 Florin Cîțu6
Citu cdep.jpg
25 September 2021 Incumbent 2 months and 4 days


1 Câmpeanu had also subsequently served as Honorary Founding President within the party.
2 Ionescu-Quintus had also subsequently served as Honorary President of the party, after the death of Câmpeanu in 2016.
3 Co-president along with Alina Gorghiu until 28 September 2016 when he resigned from this dignity.
4 Co-president along with Vasile Blaga until 28 September 2016. Afterwards, sole party leader until the end of her term.
5 Orban has also served as Chamber President between December 2020 and October 2021.
6 Cîțu has also been serving as Senate President from 23 November 2021 onwards.

Presidency span (1990–present)

Florin CîțuLudovic OrbanRaluca TurcanAlina GorghiuVasile BlagaKlaus IohannisCrin AntonescuCălin Popescu-TăriceanuTheodor StolojanValeriu StoicaMircea Ionescu-QuintusRadu Câmpeanu

Notable members

Current notable members

Former notable members

Electoral history

Legislative elections

Election Chamber Senate Position Aftermath
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
1990 879,290 6.41
29 / 395
985,094 7.06
10 / 119
 3rd  Opposition to FSN government (1990–1991)
FSN-PNL-MER-PDAR government (1991–1992)
1992 284,678 2.62
0 / 341
290,866 2.66
0 / 143
 9th  Extra-parliamentary opposition to PDSR-PUNR-PRM-PSM government (1992–1996)
1996 3,692,321 30.17
28 / 343
3,772,084 30.70
22 / 143
(within CDR)1
CDR-USD-UDMR government (1996–2000)
2000 747,263 6.89
30 / 345
814,381 7.48
13 / 140
 4th  Opposition to PDSR minority government (2000–2004)
2004 3,191,546 31.33
64 / 332
3,250,663 31.77
28 / 137
(within DA)2
DA-PUR-UDMR government (2004–2007)
PNL-UDMR minority government (2007–2008)
2008 1,279,063 18.60
65 / 334
1,291,029 18.74
28 / 137
 3rd  Opposition to PDL-PSD government (2008–2009)
Opposition to PDL-UNPR-UDMR government (2009–2012)
USL government (2012)
2012 4,344,288 58.63
100 / 412
4,457,526 60.10
50 / 176
(within USL)34
USL government (2012–2014)
Opposition to PSD-UNPR-UDMR-PC government (2014)
Opposition to PSD-UNPR-ALDE government (2014–2015)
Supporting the technocratic Cioloș Cabinet (2015–2017)
2016 1,412,377 20.04
69 / 329
1,440,193 20.42
30 / 136
 2nd  Opposition to PSD-ALDE government (2017–2019)
Opposition to PSD minority government (2019)
PNL minority government (2019–2020)
2020 1,486,401 25.19
93 / 330
1,511,225 25.58
41 / 136
 2nd  PNL-USR PLUS-UDMR government (2020–2021)
PNL-UDMR minority government (2021)
PSD-PNL-UDMR government (2021–present)


1 The members of the CDR were the PNȚ-CD (with 25 senators and 81 deputies), the PNL, the PNL-CD (with 1 senator and 4 deputies), the PAR (with 3 senators and 3 deputies), the PER (with 1 senator and 5 deputies), and the Ecologist Federation of Romania (FER - with 1 senator and 1 deputy).
2 The members of the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA) alliance were the PNL and the PD (with 21 senators and 48 deputies).
3 De facto, the PNL became the 2nd largest political party in the Romanian Parliament in the wake of the 2012 Romanian legislative election.
4 The Social Liberal Union (USL) was a larger political alliance comprising two other smaller political alliances as follows: the Centre Left Alliance (ACS) and the Centre Right Alliance (ACD). The Centre Left Alliance (ACS) members were the PSD and the UNPR (with 5 senators and 10 deputies). The members of the Centre Right Alliance (ACD) were the PNL (with 51 senators and 101 deputies) and the PC (with 8 senators and 13 deputies).

Local elections

National results

Election County Councilors (CJ) Mayors Local Councilors (CL) Popular vote % Position
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
2008 1,521,191 18.20
297 / 1,393
1,721,834 19.50
706 / 3,179
1,576,214 19.80
8,529 / 40,297
1,537,840 18.08  3rd 
2012 4,203,007 49.68
723 / 1,338
2,782,792 33.99
1,292 / 3,121
2,630,123 32.74
12,668 / 39,121
N/A N/A  1st 
(as USL)
2016 2,529,986 30.64
504 / 1,434
2,686,099 31.50
1,081 / 3,186
2,478,549 29.60
13,198 / 40,067
2,529,986 30.64  2nd 
2020 2,212,904 30.76
474 / 1,340
2,578,820 34.58
1,232 / 3,176
2,420,413 32.88
14,182 / 39,900
2,334,039 29.78  1st 
Election County Presidents (PCJ) Position
Votes % Seats
2000 596,017 6.96
1 / 41
2004 1,445,674 15.99
6 / 41
2008 1,537,840 18.08
5 / 41
2012 4,260,709
(as USL)
15 / 41
(as USL)
2016 2,529,986 30.64
8 / 41
2020 2,261,157 31.07
17 / 41

Mayor of Bucharest

Election Candidate First round Second round
Votes Percentage Position Votes Percentage Position
1992 Crin Halaicu N/A N/A N/A N/A
1996 Victor Ciorbea1 N/A
 1st  N/A
2000 George Pădure 45,861
 4th  not qualified
2004 Traian Băsescu2 417,153
2008 Ludovic Orban 64,636
 4th  not qualified
2012 Sorin Oprescu3 430,512
2016 Cătălin Predoiu 64,186
2020 Nicușor Dan4 282,631

1 PNȚ-CD candidate (endorsed by PNL as part of CDR)

2 PD candidate (endorsed by PNL as part of DA)

3 Independent candidate endorsed by USL

4 Independent candidate endorsed by PNL & USR PLUS

County Council

County Election % Councilors +/- Aftermath
Alba 2020 51.04
19 / 32
Steady PNL majority
Arad 2020 48.11
17 / 32
Increase 1 PNL majority
Argeș 2020 28.32
11 / 34
Increase 3 Opposition
Bacău 2020 27.00
8 / 36
Decrease 3 Opposition
Bihor 2020 56.86
22 / 34
Increase 5 PNL majority
Bistrița-Năsăud 2020 33.36
12 / 30
Increase 3 Opposition
Botoșani 2020 34.15
12 / 32
Decrease 3 Opposition
Brăila 2020 26.53
10 / 32
Decrease 2 Opposition
Brașov 2020 36.97
16 / 34
Bucharest 2020 19.31
12 / 55
Increase 5 USR PLUS–PNL
Buzău 2020 18.79
7 / 32
Decrease 2 Opposition
Călărași 2020 37.26
9 / 30
Decrease 8 Opposition
Caraș-Severin 2020 44.90
16 / 34
Increase 3 Opposition
Cluj 2020 46.54
19 / 36
Increase 1 PNL majority
Constanța 2020
15 / 36
Covasna 2020
3 / 31
Dâmbovița 2020
13 / 34
Dolj 2020
13 / 36
Galați 2020
12 / 34
Giurgiu 2020
18 / 30
0 PNL majority
Gorj 2020
11 / 32
Harghita 2020
2 / 30
Hunedoara 2020
6 / 32
Ialomița 2020 29.0
10 / 31
Steady PSD–PNL
Iași 2020
17 / 36
Ilfov 2020 50.0
16 / 32
5 PNL majority
Maramureș 2020
13 / 34
Mehedinți 2020
11 / 30
Mureș 2020
9 / 34
Neamț 2020
11 / 34
Olt 2020
11 / 32
Prahova 2020
8 / 36
Sălaj 2020
11 / 30
Satu Mare 2020
10 / 32
Sibiu 2020
18 / 31
4 PNL majority
Suceava 2020 50.0
18 / 36
Decrease 3 PNL majority
Teleorman 2020
17 / 32
0 PNL majority
Timiș 2020
16 / 36
10 PNL majority
Tulcea 2020
13 / 30
Vâlcea 2020
13 / 32
Vaslui 2020
12 / 34
Vrancea 2020
15 / 32

Presidential elections

Election Candidate First round Second round
Votes Percentage Position Votes Percentage Position
1990 Radu Câmpeanu 1,529,188
1992 Emil Constantinescu1 3,717,006
 2nd  4,641,207
1996 Emil Constantinescu1 3,569,941
 2nd  7,057,906
2000 Theodor Stolojan 1,321,420
 3rd  not qualified
2004 Traian Băsescu2 3,545,236
 2nd  5,126,794
2009 Crin Antonescu 1,945,831
 3rd  not qualified
2014 Klaus Iohannis3 2,881,406
 2nd  6,288,769
2019 Klaus Iohannis 3,485,292
 1st  6,509,135


1 Emil Constantinescu was the common centre-right candidate that was endorsed by the PNL in both 1992 and 1996 as part of the larger Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR).
2 Traian Băsescu was the common centre-right candidate that was endorsed by the PNL in 2004 as part of the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA) alongside the now defunct Democratic Party (PD).
3 Although Klaus Iohannis was a member of the PNL, he was the common centre-right candidate that was endorsed by the party in 2014 as part of the Christian Liberal Alliance (ACL) alongside the now longtime defunct Democratic Liberal Party (PDL).

European Parliament elections

Election Votes Percentage MEPs Position EU Party EP Group
January 2007 N/A 20.0% Steady
7 / 35
 2nd  ALDE ALDE Group1
November 2007 688,859 13.4% Decrease
6 / 35
 3rd  ALDE ALDE Group
2009 702,974 14.5% Increase
5 / 33
 3rd  ALDE ALDE Group
2014 835,531 15.0% Increase
6 / 32
 2nd  ALDE2 EPP Group
2019 2,449,068 27.0% Increase
10 / 32
 1st  EPP EPP Group


1 During the 2004–09 EU parliament session, the Parliament of Romania sent 7 delegates on behalf of the PNL to Brussels, Belgium.
2 Subsequently, sought permission to adhere to the European People's Party (EPP) and had been successfully accepted within it as a full member in the meantime.

See also


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Further reading

  • PNL website retrieved 8 September 2012
  • Cliveti, Gheorghe, Liberalismul românesc. Eseu istoriografic, Editura Fundației "AXIS", Iași, 1996;
  • Istoricul PNL de la 1848 până astăzi, București, 1923;
  • Rădulescu – Zoner, Șerban (coord.), Cliveti, Gheorghe, Stan, Apostol, Onişoru, Gheorghe, Șandru, Dumitru, Istoria Partidului Național Liberal, Editura All, București, 2000;
  • Stan, Apostol, Iosa, Mircea, Liberalismul politic în România. De la origini până la 1918, Editura Enciclopedică, București, 1996;
  • Naumescu, Valentin, Despre liberalism în România. Realităţi, dileme, perspective, EFES, Cluj-Napoca, 2001;
  • Șomlea, Vasile-Florin, Mișcarea liberală din România post'1989, Editura Ecumenica Press, Cluj-Napoca, 2006;

External links

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