The National Salvation Front



After Ceausescu’s escape, Romania was characterised by lack of leadership and a general status of disorder. A group of the former communist elite took advantage of the situation. They called themselves the National Salvation Front (NSF) and, with the help of state television, they presented themselves as the authors of the revolution.

The generals who were involved in the reprisal of the revolution joined the National Salvation Front and made a deal with those communists, in order to escape punishment for the crimes that they had committed in the first days of the revolution.

In the evening of December 22nd new fightings started. The official statement of NSF was that “terrorists” – troops loyal to Ceausescu - were trying to bring him back in power. During these fightings 942 persons died – almost six times more than in Ceausescu’s attempt to put the revolution down.

In December 25th Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were subjected to trial. They were accused of “killing of 60,000 people” and “stealing billions of dollars from the country”. They were sentenced to death and executed the same day.

In the following 13 years no proof was found that those troops loyal to Ceausescu had ever existed. No such loyalist was found, either dead or alive. The NSF freed those who had been arrested as loyalists initially. The accusations during the Ceausescu trial proved to be inventions. It was true that Ceausescu had tried to put down the revolution, and he was clearly responsible for the 162 people killed before December 22nd. However, there was no proof that he organised a resistance after his escape from the Communist Party headquarters, and the number of 60,000 people killed was a pure invention.

In my opinion, the NSF leadership staged all the fightings that occurred after Ceausescu’s arrest. Thus they were able to present themselves as heroes of the revolution who were endangering their lives in the fight against Ceausescu’s loyalists.

However, some people sensed that something was wrong with the NSF. A lot of people were suspicious about the new rulers, but when there were fightings, you had to stop criticism, as the country was in danger.

As soon as the fighting against the presumed loyalists had stopped, the demonstrations against the NSF began. Questions about who the terrorists were and who was guilty of killing people during revolution were raised. However, most Romanians did not participate in the revolution directly, they only watched it on TV. As the TV was under NSF control, they believed the NSF version of the history of revolution and that the main merit for it belonged to the NSF leaders.

After taking power, the NSF behaved like Santa Claus. Any social category that wanted a pay rise received it, irrespective of the economic consequences.

As a result, the NSF gained popularity. Most people were very happy with their increased salaries and did not want to ask the new authorities about their role in the revolution. At the elections held in May 1990, president Iliescu won 85%, and the NSF 66% of the votes. The workers, especially the miners from Southern Transylvania, supported the NSF fanatically, helping the authorities to crush the demonstrations organised by the opposition.

However, the “Santa Claus” economic policy had bad secondary effects. Inflation started in 1990 (after the elections) and many people saw their economic status worsening at a level below the one during Ceausescu’s time. Statistics show that even after 13 years from the revolution, many people, especially the older ones, earn less than in Ceausescu’s days.

In 1991, the NSF divided in two parties (the Democratic Social Party led by president Iliescu, and the Democratic Party led by prime minister Petre Roman). At the elections held in 1992 the fraction led by Ion Iliescu won. In 1996 the opposition won the elections (the National Peasant Party, the Liberal Party, the Democratic Union of the Hungarians and the Democratic Party of Petre Roman).