Founded on May 24, 1875 under the lead of Ion C. Bratianu (1875 - 1891), the National Liberal Party (PNL) is the oldest political party in Romania. In 1947 PNL stopped its activity as a result of the abolition of political pluralism by the communist regime. It was recreated on January 15, 1990 and in these 30 post-communist years the party's existence has been marked by multiple splits and reunifications. After 1989 PNL was successively led by Radu Campeanu, Mircea Ionescu Quintus, Valeriu Stoica, Theodor Stolojan, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Crin Antonescu, Klaus Iohannis, Alina Gorghiu, Raluca Turcan, Ludovic Orban.Historical PNL
The National Liberal Party was formed as a political party in 1875, at the initiative of several Liberal leaders including Ion C. Bratianu, Mihail Kogalniceanu, Alexandru G. Golescu, George Vernescu, Tache Anastasiu etc., shows the history briefing on the party's official website, https://pnl.ro/.
The first party Chairman was Ion C. Bratianu (1875 - 1891), followed after his death by Dumitru C. Bratianu, Dumitru A. Sturdza, Ion I. C. Bratianu, Vintila I.C. Bratianu, I.G. Duca, Constantin I. C. Bratianu, as shown in the volume "Political Parties" published by the National News Agency "Rompres" in 1993.
The most important events in Romania's modern history are linked to the name and history of the National Liberal Party: the gain of state independence (1877), the raise to the status of kingdom (1881), the First World War and the creation of Greater Romania (1918), the land reform (1921), the adoption of the 1923 Constitution, the economic rebound after the world economic crisis (1929 - 1933), shows the book "Political Parties" (1993).
At the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century, the National Liberal Party had a significant contribution to the development and reform of the Romanian society, and liberalism became the main ideological concept modern Romania was built upon. The Liberals' guiding principle in all their actions was "Through ourselves!" which is currently the formation's motto.
The Liberal governments from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century were as follows: 1867 - 1868; 1876 - 1888; 1895 - 1899; 1901 - 1904; 1907 - 1910; 1914 - 1917; 1918; 1922 - 1926; 1927; 1933 - 1937, according to the cited volume.
After the establishment of the communist regime, the PNL was forced to officially stop its political activity, and in November 1947 a large part of the party leaders were imprisoned.
PNL's recreation after 1989
The founders of post-1989 PNL include Dan Amedeo Lazarescu, Nicolae Enescu, I.V. Sandulescu, Radu Campeanu, according to the concise history presentation on the website pnl.ro. In the early days of 1990, PNL registered as a political party, a fact sanctioned by the Bucharest Court Ruling No. 4 of January 15, 1990. The '90s represented for PNL a period of multiple spinoffs, the National Liberal Party-Young Wing (PNL-AT), the Liberal Party 93 (PL '93), the National Liberal Party (PNL-CD) , the "Bratianu" Liberal Union (ULB), PNL-Campeanu being just a part of the formations that broke away from PNL during this period. The first part of the 2000s was a period of reunification of the liberal forces, followed by the splintering, in 2007, of PLD/PDL from the PNL. In 2014 PNL and PDL merged by absorption, with the formation retaining the name of National Liberal Party.
1990-2000: the years of PNL splinters
For Romania's liberals the '90s were a time of numerous splinters caused by disagreements between the leaders over either the ideological orientation, the alliance policy, or the party structure.
PNL's first Chairman after the party's re-establishment was Radu Campeanu, who served as Secretary general of the formation beginning January 6, 1990 and was confirmed as PNL head at the National Conference on March 31, 1990. Campeanu held this position until February 28, 1993, according to the volume "România. Date şi fapte (1989-2009)/Romania. Dates and facts (1989-2009)" put out by the National News Agency AGERPRES in 2010.
PNL participated in the first parliamentary election after 1989, entering Parliament with 6.41 percent in the Chamber of Deputies and 7.6 percent in the Senate. After the fall of the Romanian government (September 1991), between October 1991 and November 1992, PNL participated in the government together with the National Salvation Front (FSN), with independent Theodor Stolojan as Prime Minister.
On November 26, 1991, when the foundations of the Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR) were laid, PNL joined the Christian Democratic National Peasant Party (PNTCD), the Social Democratic Party of Romania (PSDR), the Romanian Ecological Party (PER), the Civic Alliance Party (PAC), the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) and several civic groups in signing the protocol for the Convention's establishment.
In April 1992 Radu Campeanu decided to exit the PNL from CDR, so that the party ran on separate lists in the September 27, 1992 parliamentary election; with just 2.63 percent for the Chamber of Deputies and 2.10 percent for the Senate, PNL failed to enter Parliament. As a consequence of Campeanu's decision, a group led by Nicolae Cerveni, who wanted PNL to stay in the CDR, broke away from PNL and formed the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention (PNL-CD) / Liberal Democratic Party of Romania (PLDR). Following several attempts to merge with other Liberal groups, on March 8, 2002 Niculae Cerveni announced the merger of PLDR with the Greater Romania Party (PRM).
On February 26-28, 1993, the National Conference was held in Brasov, which approved the party statute and elected Mircea Ionescu Quintus as chairman, something that drew a wave of dissatisfaction within the party from Radu Campeanu and his supporters, the volume "Romania. Dates and Facts (1989-2009)" also shows.
After being ousted from the PNL, in December 1993, Radu Campeanu together with other supporters convened an extraordinary congress, on February 5-6, 1994, in which he was appointed leader of the political party: PNL-Campeanu. The confrontation between the political groups led by Mircea Ionescu-Quintus and Radu Campeanu was settled in court, in March 1995, with the party led by Mircea Ionescu-Quintus keeping the name of the National Liberal Party, and the one led by Radu Campeanu received the name of PNL-Campeanu, which was the Liberal party that delayed the most the merger with PNL. The merger by absorption protocol between PNL and PNL-Campeanu was signed on August 28, 2003.
In November 1996, PNL entered parliament and governing within the Democrat Convention of Romania (CDR), together with the Social Democratic Union (USD) and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR).
Mircea Ionescu-Quintus was re-elected as leader of the PNL at the Congress on May 16-17, 1997, and Valeriu Stoica was elected as Vice-President.
At the PNL Extraordinary Congress, on March 28, 1998, the merger with the Civic Alliance Party (PAC) was validated, following which PNL retained its name, logo, electoral symbol and programme.
In March 1999, the National Liberal Party was admitted to the Liberal International, and the chairman of the party became the latter's vice-president.
2000s: years of the Liberals' reunification
On August 18, 2000, Theodor Stolojan's candidacy for president of Romania in the November 2000 presidential elections was validated at the PNL Extraordinary Congress.
At the parliamentary elections on November 26, 2000, PNL participated on its own lists, following its withdrawal from the CDR in the summer of the same year. It obtained 6.89 pct of the votes in the Chamber of Deputies and 7.47 pct in the Senate. Moreover, the PNL presidential candidate, Theodor Stolojan ranked third, with 11.78 pct of the vote.
At the Congress of February 17-18, 2001, Valeriu Stoica was elected chairman of the party, with Theodor Stolojan at the helm of the PNL National Council.
On January 19, 2002, through an extraordinary Congress, the merger by absorption between PNL and the Alliance for Romania (ApR) was confirmed, the volume "Romania. Dates and Facts (1989-2009)" also noted.
On August 24 and 25, 2002, the extraordinary Congress of the party was held, during which Theodor Stolojan was elected as PNL leader.
On April 19, 2003, another extraordinary congress of merger was held between PNL and UFD (Union of Right Forces), during which the absorption of the party of the Union of Right Forces by PNL was unanimously approved. A few months later, on September 27, 2003, the Extraordinary Congress of the PNL approved, by unanimous vote, the merger by absorption with PNL-Campeanu.
From the D.A. Alliance to the creation of PLD and PDL
September 27 to 28, 2003, the congresses of the Democratic Party (PD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL) took place simultaneously and approved the establishment of the PNL-PD "Justice and Truth" Alliance (The D.A. Alliance)
On October 2, 2004, after the withdrawal of Theodor Stolojan as chairman of the PNL and candidate of the D.A. Alliance in the presidential elections of 2004, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu became the interim chairman of the PNL, co-chair of the Alliance, together with Traian Basescu.
In the parliamentary elections of November 28, 2004, the PNL-PD D.A. Alliance won 31.77 pct of the votes expressed for the Senate, and 31.33 pct of the votes expressed for the Chamber of Deputies, thus winning the governing act. The presidential elections were won by the candidate of the D.A. Alliance, Traian Basescu, and, according to the D.A. Alliance protocol, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, the new leader of the PNL, received the position of Prime Minister.
Calin Popescu-Tariceanu was elected chairman of the PNL at the Congress that took place on February 4-5, 2005. The Congress also adopted the motion proposed by Tariceanu by which he requested the postponement of a potential merger between PNL and PD until a favorable moment, according to the volume "Romania. Dates and facts (1989-2009)."
In September and October 2006, Raluca Turcan, Cristian Boureanu, Theodor Stolojan and Valeriu Stoica were expelled from the PNL following an appeal they made for the unity and relaunch of the PNL (July 17, 2006). The string of expulsions ended with the launch, by Theodor Stolojan, the former PNL chair, of the Liberal Democrat Party (PLD), on December 7, 2006.
At the Extraordinary Congress of the PNL of January 12-13, Calin Popescu Tariceanu was re-elected chairman of the party. On March 26, 2007, following the exit of PD from the governing act, Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu announced that the D.A. Alliance ceased to exist.
On December 23, 2007, the PLD merged with the PD, giving birth to the Democrat Liberal Party (PD-L).
In the 2008 parliamentary elections, PNL obtained 18.57 pct of votes in the Chamber of Deputies and 17.74 pct in the Senate, thus ranking third after the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the PD-L.
Following the Congress of March 20-21, 2009, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu was replaced from the helm of the party by Crin Antonescu. Ludovic Orban became first deputy chairman. The chairman of the party, Crin Antonescu, was also the PNL's candidate in the presidential elections of November 22, 2009, placing third, with a score of 20.02 pct. The Extraordinary Congress of the PNL of March 5-7 reconfirmed Crin Antonescu as chair of the party.
PNL, ACD and USL
The leaders of the PNL and the Conservative Party (PC) signed, on January 10, 2011, the protocol establishing the National Liberal Party - Conservative Party Center-Right Alliance (ACD PNL-PC) which envisaged the collaboration of the two parties in the local and parliamentary elections of 2012, as well as in the 2014 presidential elections, according to the www.pnl.ro website.
On February 5, 2011, the protocol that established the alliance between the ACD and the PSD, under the name of the Social Liberal Union (USL) was signed.
After the dismissal, by censure motion, of the Mihai Razvan Ungureanu Government, on May 7, 2012, PNL entered governing, in the Victor Ponta I Government together with the other parties of the USL (PSD and PC).
Following the parliamentary elections of December 9, 2012, when the USL won a comfortable majority in Parliament, PNL continued to govern, in the second Ponta cabinet, together with the other parties of the USL (PSD, PC and the National Union for Romania's Progress - UNPR).
On February 22-23, 2013, the Extraordinary Congress of the PNL took place, during which Crin Antonescu was reconfirmed as party chairman and Klaus Iohannis was elected as first deputy chair, a position newly re-established.
During the meeting of the PNL Permanent Delegation of February 25, 2014, it was decided to withdraw the PNL ministers from government, the announcement being made by the PNL chair, Crin Antonescu. The leader of the Liberals announced, on the same day, that the moment of withdrawal of the Liberal ministers from government equates to the disbandment of the USL.
In the election to the European Parliament of May 25, 2014, the PNL received 15 pct of the votes. On May 26, 2014, Crin Antonescu resigned as head of the PNL, invoking the weak results obtained in that ballot. Thus, at the Congress of June 27-28, 2014, Klaus Iohannis was elected head of the PNL. Furthermore, the Congress adopted the proposal for the PNL and the PD-L to be merged. The same congress also voted the resolution to move the PNL from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) to the European People's Party (EPP).
The protocol of the merger of equals between the PNL and the PDL was to be endorsed unanimously by the Liberals and Liberal-Democrats' joint Congress of 26 July 2014. According to the protocol, the new party's name is the National Liberal Party, with the PNL abbreviation. The two political parties' joint Congress was preceded on the same day by the PNL Extraordinary Congress that had approved the merger with the PDL. Klaus Iohannis became the presidential candidate of the two parties' alliance, dubbed the Liberal Christian Alliance (ACL), according to https://pnl.ro/.
On 18 December 2014, Alina Gorghiu became the PNL chairwoman, within the National Political Bureau, following the resignation of Klaus Iohannis as Chair of the party since he had been elected President of Romania. Alina Gorghiu stepped down from the PNL highest position on 12 December 2016, due to the December 2016 parliamentary election poor results. On 14 December 2016, Raluca Turcan was designated within the PNL's National Political Bureau as interim chairperson, a position she vacated on 17 June 2017.
At the party's Congress on 17 June 2017, Ludovic Orban became the new PNL Chair.
At the election to the European Parliament of 26 May 2019, the PNL ranked first with 27pct of the valid votes, thus achieving its best result after 1989.
After ousting the Dancila Gov't through censure motion, the Liberals' leader, Ludovic Orban, was designated Prime Minister on 16 October 2019, and the PNL entered governing.