Coordinated by Gheorghe STOICA

 “National Renaissance”, “Ideologisation”, “Political Sacralisation” and the “Ideological Think-tank”  under the New Regime and the First Single Party  in the Political History of Romania

Florin GRECU
“Hyperion” University of Bucharest


Abstract: The creation of a single-party ideology by the new Romanian authoritarian monarchical regime, institutionalised and approved constitutionally on the 27th of February 1938, was aimed against the former democratic representative regime, and described itself as pursuing the common, not the individual interests. The authoritarian monarchy, through ideological monopoly, seized the majority of the dogmatic concepts of the period, and introduced mystical believes, based on orthodoxy and spirituality. Through the corporate concepts of the period, of an economic, political and social class, politicianism and parliamentarism were fought through a vehement nationalist rhetoric by the representatives of the new regime. The newly founded institutions, especially the Circles of Studies, were striving to create and spread the ideology of the single party, however, at the same time it was taken into account that these facilities were undergoing political police activities, by monitoring members and informing the Ministry of the National Renaissance Front of their activities, who were enrolled in the organisation of the first single party in the political history of Romania.

Keywords: doctrine, orthodoxism, saviour, ideological monopoly, youths.



The current article proposes to analyse, by resorting to political science references, the way in which an ideology is created under a single-party regime. The present study analyses the Romanian authoritarian monarchical regime, which came into being through the coup d’état of the monarch during the night of 10/11 of February 1938. How exactly is an ideology for a political regime created and how does a regime produce its own piece of rhetoric? These are the questions to be answered and demonstrated, that is the authoritarian monarchy created its own politically and ideologically influenced institutions in order to spread its believes, and it even resorted in this manner to the Romanian Orthodox Church. The coalition between state and Church is brought to the fore through the monarch’s naming of Miron Cristea, the patriarch of Romania, as head of the council of ministers. The spread of the regime’s ideology was the mission of the single party and of the instruments it was provided with: the National Guard and the Circles of Study. The hypothesis to be proven here consists of the fact that the more numerous the regime’s representatives interferences were, the ideas and messages turned into state and party doctrine, the base being represented by the constitutional order introduced on the 27th of February 1938, representing the judicial and ideological frame of the new authoritarian regime, turned into an undemocratic and unconstitutional one.



Why did the regime, through its single party, call itself of national salvation?

The concept of national renaissance and the temporary character of authoritarian regimes are analysed both by Giovanni Sartori and Chantal Millon-Delsol, who believe that dictatorship and the authoritarian regime are circumstantial phenomena, and they cannot last more than the life span of the monarch or ruler of the respective regime. The creation of the concept of national salvation, the national renaissance, justifies, imposes and sanctions the emergence of the authoritarian regime. Delsol believes that “the national salvation dictatorship has always been temporary and provisory, circumstantial and not permanent”[1]. Dictatorship identified itself with oppression and functioned, in most of the cases, for short periods of time. The national renaissance represented the device of reinstating order, in order to allow another regime, in this case, the Romanian monarchical authoritarian regime to gain standing. The masquerading of party activities stands from the fact that “the new regime could not make use, in its national renaissance scheme, of a classical political party, which would only represent a vector, widening the gap and mimicking national solidarity”[2]. The national renaissance was the fundamental concept of the new authoritarian King Carol II’s regime.

The concept of national renaissance takes inspiration from the myth of the saviour[3]. The rhetoric of the new regime introduced by the king as the nation’s saviour, this being the pretext for enforcing the dictatorship, the monarch wanted ever since his arrival in the country, in 1930. The new regime, lead with an iron fist, where the institutions of the state were taken over by colonels and generals, disbanded political parties, and in their place the monarch proclaimed himself absolute leader of the political system through the founding of the National Renaissance Front, a nondemocratic political and corporatist organisation. National salvation stood for the national renaissance of Romania. As Delsol states, “all the prerequisites of the traditional dictatorship are present here: the country needs to be rescued, and the saviour only works out of duty for the general interest”[4]. The instability produced in the country by the political parties in the ferocious battle for power, as well as the frantic demagogy, but also the internal and external threats to the very existence of the Romanian state determined the monarch to overthrow the old democratic regime through a coup d’état and proclaim himself, through state propaganda, the saviour of the nation, uplifting the country from the decline it was engulfed in due to the turmoil created by political parties. The ones to blame for this state of things were the former political parties, which were accused of corruption and selfish political interests.

Any renaissance involves a severe setback prior to it. This setback represents a concept of evil, while renaissance represents a positive concept. The renaissance, in the sense of King Carol II’s period, represented the doctrinal dictatorship in the way Delsol formulates it: “The doctrinal dictatorship consists of an anti-liberal vision, the critique of political and economic liberalism and individualism, the denial of truth, enthusiasm for insane doctrines, the disaster of philosophy and the birth of subjectivism”[5], but also a corporate social doctrine based on the rejection of modernity. In Lucian Blaga’s own words, “a period called renaissance is a sort of enlightenment under the influence of a grandiose past”[6]. The myth of decadence was the popular philosophical concept debated in that age in Western Europe. Decadence came from liberalism and the institutions created by it, the parliament and political parties, in short, it stemmed from democracy. The renaissance was possible only by invoking a decadent past, through fictitious construction, and through the promise of a secure future in which the country would resurge spiritually, economically and socially. The collapse of the country was considered to be the work of political parties, and her uplifting was the mission of the providential man who wished to cleanse the individuals of society’s evil. The providential man was regarded as the saviour of “people and civilisation, he is the one who will ignite the flame of national and spiritual renaissance. The grandeur of the authoritarian project, of order and discipline, justifies absolute power and the kick start of social cleansing, and the legitimacy of dictatorial reforms will fortify absolute power”[7].

The lawfulness of exerting power is based on justifying the role of the monarch to herd his royal subjects. Delsol considers that “authoritarian power is based on and legitimised by the connection with the people. Power does not need elections, because it exists in osmosis with the nation”[8]. The monarch institutionalised the new regime through the plebiscite of the constitution of February 27, subject to the vote of the people, and thus, the population of the kingdom of Romania voted for the new regime from a judicial and a symbolic point of view, but also for the legalisation of further actions through the force of the monarch and the new authoritarian institutions.



The National Renaissance Front failed to impose its ideological program, proclaimed over its more than two years of existence, neither at the party level, nor at the social level. The front’s ideology was meant to represent the regime, and the party was a personification of the monarch. Therefore, “the single-party regime is based on the ideological side which the state imposes on society through the party”[9]. Thus, the NRF was the party that wanted to hold the monopoly of the political activity and control of the state, for the purpose of imposing its own ideology on each and every organisation. The single-party ideology dominated all the speeches and agendas of the single-party’s new organisations. The organisation and reorganisation of the guilds evoked the influences of the front’s ideology. The only purpose of the ideology was to uphold the principles of the new authoritarian state. Through the voice of Mihail Ralea, the minister of Labour, a former member of PNT’s radical wing lead by Armand Călinescu, it was stated that the guilds are those institutions which will not be influenced by political parties and will not offer their space for ideological proliferation. The ideological monopoly was not only influential in the spheres of the party, because, from the organisations’ level, the important element was the monopoly union, which dimensions translated into the concentration of union life. Trying to express the ideological conception of the regime, Mihail Ralea pointed out the fact that “the multiplicity of political parties encouraged political demagogy, and union multiplicity gave way for overbidding on social demagogy. Today, in the new regime, in the entire union area there can be seen a tendency to a single union”[10]. The single party and the single union, as well as the parliament, were tools of the regime, all of them bearing the mark of monarchical and corporate ideology.

Through the state, “the party spread its ideology by using means of coercion, publicity and propaganda”[11]. The party’s ideology was intended to be an instrument of unity and wholeness, crossing social boundaries and political and cultural affiliations. The introduction of the regime’s ideology in the entire strata of society was the attribute of the single party and its instruments, the National Guards and the Circles of Studies. The new institutions were politically influenced and served the purpose of bringing order to the country, through the means of the coercive surveillance and control components: the army, the police, the gendarmerie and the court.

The construction and the fabrication of the regime and of the single party were intended to be an alternative to the ideologies of those times which were threatening the order of the state and announced its demise. The regime instated through the coup d’état of 10/11 February 1938 did not take into account any ideological program or a specific doctrine, it only represented the will of the monarch and its entourage against internal and external threats. The new political direction of patriarch Miron Cristea’s government, concentrating on order and discipline, represented the answer which the monarchy gave to the stir created by political parties, especially the party “Everything for the Country” (Totul pentru Ţară). King Carol II’s regime did not pose itself neither as a dictatorship, nor as a totalitarian regime. The state’s authority and the exertion of legitimate violence on individuals from a certain territory is Weber’s definition of the modern state[12]. The Romanian state, through the regime it installed, did nothing else except exert its authority as the legitimate power holder, unwilling to cede it. Political power, in any state, democratic, authoritarian or totalitarian is not ceded, it is preserved. Political power is continuous, it cannot be handed over, it can only be renewed.  Georges Burdeau explains the fact that “the people try to impose their reign through violence, but having nothing to do with it they relegate its use and responsibility to a person or a group, on grounds of an impression, not a rational choice”[13]. This pattern can also be applied to King Carol II’s authoritarian regime. The people seized the power on the day of the plebiscite, but failing to make use of it they transferred it to the monarch, not to the parliament, legitimising the new regime through the constitution, thus transferring to the monarch the power held by the entire state. The period between 1938 and 1940 was one of monarchical authority, chief of the party-state, being based on an authoritarian legislation.

The law decree of the 16th of December 1938, through which the new law of establishing the National Renaissance Front was promulgated, was accompanied by an explanatory memorandum of the government lead by Miron Cristea, the patriarch of Romania, and, after his passing away, by Armand Călinescu. In the opinion of the prime minister-patriarch, “the NRF was the sole entity, from within which the parliamentary, administrative and professional foundations were laid, on which the entire life of our state is to be supported in the future. The NRF will open the gates of the public life to all young Romanian potentials. It was reckoned that any activity outside that of the NRF is harmful to the state, and its authors must be punished as criminals of national and social order and civic corruption”[14]. The explanatory memorandum of the government continued with the rhetoric of the political parties and democracy. Thus, except political unification of establishing political monism, the new regime called for the elimination of political ideologies and the creation of a peaceful and favourable climate. “The NRF was established from the need to create and organise the elite and to watch over the expansion of the new institutions”[15]. Political monism proclaimed the unity of the new regime, of the leading class, but was similar to the methods of authoritarian and totalitarian political organisation introduced in 1930’s Europe.

The new constitution, promulgated on the 27th of February 1938, nailed down the principles from which the political life of the country could flow. The old parties and the entire democratic political construction prior to the voting of the constitution were disbanded. In their place, political life was to organise itself on professional grounds, according to constitutional stipulation. This principle was satisfied through the establishment of the NFR whose purpose was to “muster the national conscience for a united and sympathetic Romanian course of action. The NFR is to replace in the future and under legal circumstances the former political parties”[16].

The political, economic, and social crisis is not specific to Romania, but to all the countries of South-eastern Europe. The social and economic crisis was also deepened by the effects of the Romanian elections of December 1937, the consequence of which being the establishment of the monarchical dictatorship, one which was not of the fascist or NSDAP type. The rallying of the authoritarian monarchical regime to the fascist configuration was not something new for the political architecture of the period. The new regime was not a pure Romanian phenomenon, because “one by one, there were changes in the type of government of Balkan countries and they all had an almost similar content to that existing in Romania. Chronologically, Romania was the last one in the Balkans to follow this path[17]”. Most regimes and European political movements that claim a dictatorship doctrine in the period of the two World Wars are fascist or related to fascism rather than showing traditional Christian values, a centrifugal corporatism which will become state-related in its own logic; rather a moral than a temporal saving of human kind. All authoritarian or totalitarian regimes show predominantly the Christian or corporate ideal, the nostalgia of pre-urban and pre-individualistic society[18].

The temptation of establishing one-party systems was a tendency in the Central and Eastern Europe, but also in democratic Western Europe. This fashion of a one-party state was imported to Romania as well by the establishment of King Carol II’s personal dictatorship:

“In Southern Europe, the dictatorships of Primo de Rivera and Franco, the dictatorship of Salazar in Portugal, that of General Pangalos then of General Metaxas in Greece; in Central Europe the “Order and Tradition” movement in Switzerland; the governments of monsignor Seipel, then Dollfuss then Schuschnigg in Austria, those of Hlinka and monsignor Tiso in Slovakia, the power of general Horthy, then that of Gömbös in Hungary, C. Z. Codreanu’s  Archangel Michael Legion in Romania and the authoritarian regimes of King Carol II in Romania, King Boris the 3rd in Bulgaria, King Aleksandru in Yugoslavia, Pilsudski’s conservative regime in Poland and even Degrelle’s Rexist party in Belgium, from the name of Christ the King or Doriot’s Popular French Party in France”.[19]



A regime of personal monarchy was and still is in history treaties and political sciences an authoritarian regime, because it cannot give an official ideology “of the religious type” in a sartorial sense. Giovanni Sartori thinks that “a dictator proclaims an official ideology, but only on limited criteria or not with a persuasive ability”[20]. The ideology of the single party, just like the regime itself, existed only as long as the king was on the throne, “because simple authoritarian dictatorships will not outlast the person’s life, i.e. that of the dictator”[21].

Political life in the 1930-1940s was organised by the state and by the one-party, thus managing to turn the organisation in the direction that the monarch devised and wished. Therefore NRF becomes a state organism and political life focuses on the monarch. NRF was re-defining the notion of homeland and this was to be implanted in the minds of all who were considered Romanians. Public law professor Anibal Teodorescu references the text of the new constitution which reminded the citizens’ duties and that “living Romanians should put their own country above anything else in life”[22]. The notion of home land was closely related to Romanian spirituality and way of thinking. By definition, the rule over the bodies of individuals was the right of the state and of the party, carried out through the force of the Police, order officers, Army and law courts, while the rule over the soul was the exclusive right of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which was charged with caring for the people’s souls through their priests and religious canon.

Starting from the premise of the party’s spirituality and inter-connection with religion, I shall show the mystical elements of the NRF doctrine, that is the connection between State-Church-Nation-Party-King. In this respect certain texts will be relevant to enhance the ideology of the first state-party in Romania’s political history. Consequently,

“[…] between the Nation and the State (between the Romanian authoritarian orthodox state and the Romanian nation) there is an absolutely necessary and explicit organic relationship; today we go back to the old connection which existed between the state and the people, which form an inseparable and untouchable whole, and this organic formula, absolutely necessary between the State and the Nation existing in the same form between the Church and the Nation, is the very formula of the National Renaissance Front”.[23]

The fusing of religion, especially the Orthodox Church, with politics was achieved by the appointment of patriarch Miron Cristea as prime minister that is president of the Council of Ministers. The concept of religious politics is defining for authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. The sanctification of politics will reach its highest point with the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. “Nazism and fascism contributed to the sacralisation of politics, but fascism was built and evolved as a political religion”[24].

For any regime, be it totalitarian or authoritarian, ideology was the instrument of power in the fight with political adversaries. The modern state is built as a legitimate institution and is the one which determines the creation of ideological dimensions. Religion, on the other hand, was represented by the Orthodox Church, which contested the democratic parties’ powers by dint of a radical totalitarian rhetoric. On the other hand, the State constitutionally and lawfully limited civil rights and freedom by establishing censorship and the state of emergency, a fundament for the new party’s ideological order. The one party, that is the state, did not identify itself with the Church or with any other military religious order, but some doctrines promoted by the party had religious elements, with ideological features or the other way around.

The political religion promoted by the new party at propaganda level materialised by the nomination of the patriarch as Prime-Minister. He forbade the priests to conduct any sort of political activity in churches. “Political propaganda in places of worship or with the occasion of religious events is not allowed to anybody”[25]. The one party, NRF and its armed branch, the National Guard promoted the regime’s religious ideology through the Church and priests, although the spreading of political ideas was forbidden[26].

The Church was the party’s propaganda institution, not the Ministry of Propaganda or the one party’s National Guard. The idea promoted by the triad Church-Party-Ministry was that of subordinating the individual and his private interests to collective state interests, which were considered to be superior.

As for the acceptance of the authoritarian monarchic regime by the Romanian Orthodox Church, the speech delivered by Armand Călinescu in the superior council of NRF sheds light on the support the authoritarian regime had from the Church, and the nomination of the Patriarch as prime-minister was calculated as a manoeuvre to take over the clergy. In his speech in the National Superior Council, the Internal Affairs Minister thanked the Church for the support it gave to the new regime and for the adhesion to the new political orientation of the Romanian authoritarian state. Thus, “at the call of the heads of the two sister Churches in Transylvania, archbishops Bălan and Niculescu, on February 27th 1939 tens of thousands of citizens gathered in the city of the Unification and with unusual enthusiasm professed their devotion to the King and their permanent connections to the newly established regime”[27]. By this speech the Prime Minister was proving that the regime was supported ideologically and religiously by the two Churches.

If in Western Catholic democratic or liberal states the phenomenon occurs reversely in its minute details and contradicts the Eastern Orthodox Romanian authoritarian state:

“In our authoritarian Orthodox state, the concept of State becomes the same as the concept of People and is given meaning by the Nation as an organic body. The connections in this National organic body in the Romanian Orthodox authoritarian State is made through the National Salvation Front, which eliminates all elements of class, numbers and rights (as in liberal-democratic states) and promotes the pre-eminence and existentiality of the ideas of People, Ethnicity and Orthodoxy by way of real absolute freedom, as a feeling and focus of total adhesion and full forming”.[28]

The definition of state is of an authoritarian nature, in which the principles of democracy find no place as NRF was the element of cohesion between individuals no longer affiliated to political organisations. The whole authoritarian architecture turned around the palace, the regime confiscating thus almost all ideological concepts, be they foreign or autochthonous. As such, we can say that NRF’s ideological sources are heterogeneous.

The attacks on political parties were nothing but attacks on democracy, looked down upon by the new party’s members. Even Prime-Minister Armand Călinescu’s speech was impregnated with mystical elements praising Orthodoxy and spirituality. He thought that “NRF is more of a spiritual movement, aiming to create a spirit of national unity”[29]. He also mentioned that “NRF rests on Christian faith. Being a Christian movement, it aims at giving life a meaning and a Christian value”[30]. One can easily see that the regime was confiscating at that time the ideology through a speech with Orthodox meanings in order to counteract the discourse and actions of the Iron Guard. The Guard saw itself as the representative of Orthodoxy and for this reason it came into collision with the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Miron Cristea.

The regime and the only-party developed the concept of nationalism by invoking the ideas of Dacianism and Romanian ethnic pre-eminence and also by highlighting the relationship between the earthly power represented by the King and the Church’s heavenly power embodied by its representative on earth, Patriarch Miron Cristea. All these ideas and clichés were induced on party members and public clerks as part of the NRF’s ideology. The National Renaissance Front identified itself with the history, culture and spirituality of the Romanian people, as claimed by the theorists of the regime and King Carol II’s party. This party confiscated any element which could be beneficial to its propaganda in order to consolidate the notion of mother land. As such, “the National Renaissance Front was the Romanian action of Dacian renaissance of the Monarchic revolution”[31]. Hackneyed expressions are not relics from the communist era, they can be traced back to the clichés forming the basis of the NRF’s doctrine.

According to its own official doctrine, the National Renaissance Front was the party of social revolution. It claimed to be of a revolutionary nature. The revolution done by the foundation of a new party was the King’s doing, so he was considered the “chief revolutionary”- as proof, he was appointed supreme ruler of his own party. This organisation wanted to give back to the country the pristine, honest spirit stolen by former political parties and to rebuild the old Romanian solidarity. The single party, “NRF, wanted to reunite in the Parliament a single nation which would be coaxed into serving a single purpose, namely that of doing their duty to the mother land”[32]. Both the actions of party members and the ideology associated with it were chaotic and had as main purpose the establishing of control and surveillance over party members and citizens alike. The aim was that in a very short time frame all social conflicts would be ended by imposing the state ideology, which was thought to be able to revolutionise a Romanian’s life. The NRF’s ideology acquired collective concepts and the individual did not have the right of free thinking anymore, but he was always there to fully obey the party and the monarch. Collectivism created the base for establishing ideological control and monopoly over the elites and at the same time over the masses.



The new regime’s discourse, through the voice of Prime-Minister Patriarch Miron Cristea was directed against the previous regime’s political organisations. The only party and the new face of the state doctrine were based on ideology, as Chantal-Delsol thinks, and sought the adhesion of the masses to the new regime. “The doctrinal state is characterised by the fact that it considers itself the only keeper of the common project and of social and political morality”[33]. The regime was overtly opposing the Iron Guard and the way by which it could be eliminated or at least have its influence and adhesion reduced by attracting the youth into the Front’s structures. The way in which they wanted to attract the young generation into the new regime’s structures was by organising a political life that could be modelled in the spirit of the new constitution, voted by plebiscite on January 27th 1938[34].

The possibility that the new regime borrow practices from the old parties or from the former multi-party regime was unconceivable, at least at the official rhetoric level, because NRF aimed at being a party of morality, spirituality and following the era’s political trends. Although it didn’t manage to mobilise the youth despite its attempts to discipline them in the Circles of Studies, in order to avoid being influenced by the Legionary ideology, NRF was infiltrated with members of former political parties and in this way the single party became a screen for the democratic parties’ illegality, and unofficially it legally sanctioned their activity and meetings.

The militarisation of the National Renaissance Front was done through the National Guard, and the act of supervising and control was carried into effect by analysis groups which in the era were called Circles of Studies. The NRF’s activity didn’t mean just the propaganda through which the masses were adhering to the monist political body, but it also strove to supervise and influence it politically and ideologically according to the regime’s requirements. All these features lead to the image of a single-party State dominated by an authoritarian leader.

By organising the Circles of Studies, NRF aimed at establishing the doctrine and ideology of the single party. The relevant document for the role of ideology in the mobilisation of elites is “Regulations for the organisation and functioning of NRF”. From these regulations we can discover that the Service of Studies and Documentation made reports on political, social and economic issues. The Circles of Studies “made propositions about the coordination of the Ministry’s general lines of activity, created the legislation referring to the Front’s organisation, did research and gave presentations about the ideology and purposes of NRF”[35].

Through the Service of Security and Propaganda, the National Renaissance Front had major attributions regarding the organisation of mass media and the propaganda’s manner of spreading the party’s ideology suggested the adequate ways of diffusing this ideology in the mass media through conferences and public meeting. Additionally, the propaganda agents presented plans on how to organise the party’s mass media, they kept in touch with various newspapers all over the country through the party’s local representatives, kept track of newspapers and articles describing the party’s activity, made and proposed brochures and other propaganda materials to be distributed throughout the country and abroad[36].

NRF became an authoritarian party with totalitarian tendencies, because at the party level it established a sort of political police through the Service of Information and Statistics which gathered information about the state of mind and lives of party members, as well as about internal and external political events. There was even a special bureau which centralised all the data on party members, having them classified by profession and the functions they held in the party, and always sending updates to the NRF Ministry with the changes intervened in each member’s case. This bureau also stored the results of elections for each constituency and for each professional category[37]. The NRF prepared these statistics in order to have a better control over its members. Thus, party members were placed in special registries, in two different categories: the first contained the 21 to 30 years old, who could not take part in the elections, and the second contained those over 30 years, who had the right to vote. Not only NRF members were monitored, but also members of the legislative – each had an entry mentioning the activity they had and also their titles in the party and the parliament.

The single party made lists of candidates by principles and criteria according to the Front’s doctrinal requirements. Each candidate had a personal file created for him regarding each position he intended to occupy. Thus, citizen Ioan P. Ioan intended to run for the Council of the town of Focsani and his personal file contained the following data: he was a lawyer, was 54 years old, had gone through the Army training and was a lieutenant, had majored in Law and had graduated the Academy of Commerce. Morally, it was specified that he had no criminal record; in the skills section, he was mentioned as being energetic; in the popularity section it was mentioned that he had enough popularity. As for his political activity, alongside mentioning the parties he was part of and the positions he held, he was listed as adept of the Peasant Party and a supporter of Vaida[38]. After his election as senator in the corporate party, Ioan P. Ioan was appointed Secretary of the Senate on the March 7, 1940 session and made several interventions from the tribune of electors over different laws in progress, especially regarding agriculture law.

In order to have a comparative view on the candidates’ files I shall present, from the data taken from NRF’s propositions for the same town Council, another file made by the local authorities. Ion Basgan also ran for the Council of the Town of Focsani – he was a 38 years old engineer, had graduated from the Polytechnic and held the army rank of sub-lieutenant. In the skills section, it was mentioned that he was a “man to be trusted” and “had enough popularity”. In the political activity section, it was mentioned that he had been a “Georgist”[39], Gheorghe Brătianu’s liberal wing. The activity of the Circles of Study consisted in making papers useful during the elections while keeping track of candidates and results[40]. The camouflage of the Circles of Study was the regime’s involvement in the close supervision of the June 1st and 2nd 1939 elections by borrowing and adopting methods and practices from other totalitarian and authoritarian regimes that were establishing themselves in Europe at that time. From the ordinary clerk to the minister or senator, the NRF was monitoring everybody and knew everything that was happening inside and outside the party. 

The Service of Information and Propaganda also dealt with the activity of various politicians who were not members of the NRF or were just pretending to support it for the sake of appearances so that they could continue their work of libel against the regime, while being sheltered by the NRF. All information was brought to the upper leaders. The regions centralised them by counties and kept track of these elements. The events monitored for the NRF by the Circles of Studies were of social or political nature. They monitored the people’s state of mind, the activities of various politicians who were or who were not members of the Nation’s Party, the actions committed against the ideology and doctrine of the Nation’s party, the ideas or opinions which circulated on hidden paths, from man to man, in writing or viva voce, police and legal information, actions that were meant to bring down the social order through acts of terror, espionage, subversive actions – in short, anything that was against the internal and external state security[41].

From the arguments given by Constantin C. Giurescu, Minister of the National Renaissance Front, we can see what was the role of the Circles of Study, of the ideology and propaganda in the new regime: “The Circles of Studies were only focused on the work of adaptation of the entire social, political and economic life to the organic ideas of the Front; they coordinated the whole ideological movement of NRF”[42]. The project of the NRF law provisioned for the creation of the Circles of Studies alongside the other important organisations in the Party and also of a Central Circle of Studies affiliated to the NRF General Secretariat. Regional and communal Circles of Studies took care of local issues. They ruled themselves by the monographic method. The Circles of Studies dealt with “the whole gamut of general issues, by centralising monographs and studies produced by the Local Circles for the purpose of fulfilling the NRF’s doctrine directions; they were political organisms” by excellence. “Technical specialised organisms provisioned by the constitutional, legal or regulatory texts had their field of activity untouched by this”[43].

According to the new regime’s wishes, the Circles of Studies were composed of only young elements. The NRF was their regime. The NRF intended to be dynamic and revolutionary in its major lines of action and also to be part of all manifests[44]. The classification in the departments and sections of the Circles of Studies was based on specialisation which made the most of individual skills. Therefore, “the activity of the Circles of Studies will not take over the catechism of former political schools in which electoral aims were the main skill test for the youth[45]”. According to Giurescu, “the gates were meant to be wide open for all those young people whose souls and skills were rarely treasured by the former parties”[46]. By dint of those Circles of Studies they planned to make the youth take part in large numbers in their own spiritual and political formation according to the NRF ideology in their Circles of Studies. The Minister of the National Renaissance Front, Constantin C. Giurescu claimed that the members of the Circles of Studies “were not summoned to fortify the electoral position of the new regime, but to set their eyes on the masses. The youth ought to find in the new political institutions the high intellectual and political culture ambition meant to re-establish morality in the Romanian ruling elite”[47].

The instrument of the one party was the Circles of Studies whose main role was to propagandise the Party’s doctrinal principles. We can ask ourselves whether the speeches delivered by the regime’s representatives, or by central and local elites were their own creations, or whether they were the work of the laboratory of ideas, the one-party’s think tank. Internal Affairs minister and future Prime-Minister Armand Călinescu’s remarkable speeches can be questioned: were they or not from the NRF’s political organisms? Although they were not designed to be a Party School, the Circles of Studies contributed to the creation of Vodă Carol’s Front ideology. The wish to have all young intellectuals within the walls of the Circles of Studies would have been successful, for the regime had the ideology promoted by the Legionary movement been diminished. The mentality of the members of the NRF youth was meant to be formed spiritually and prepared politically inside and under the influence of the one party’s ideology. The course was against the Iron Guard which also aimed at forming the youth in the spirit of the 1922’s generation.

The Front’s declared main goal was to create a new young elite and institutions, but they too proved to be laden with ideology and politics. By the creation of the Circles of Studies, the Front’s ideological construction was meant to socially, politically and economically reshape the youth, as reported to the total and organic ideals of the One Party. As such, the ideological remodelling of the members of the NRF was the work of King Carol II. His regime in the 1938-1940 period can be defined as one based on ideology, but one which did not find support among the clerks that were part of it or among the masses in general.



In its endeavour to consolidate the party, the authoritarian monarchic regime was supported by the Army. The militarised structure of the single party shows the politically laden composition of the single-party system. The political realm’s militarisation was doubled by the presence of the political police used by the new regime. In her analysis of totalitarian regimes, Hannah Arendt sees NSDAP as a state in the state political structure only that in this totalitarian regime the phenomenon was carried out by doubling services and offices, thus solving the problem of the relation between the party and the state. “For these positions of state power which the national-socialists could not take over with their own men, they created ghost-positions in their own party organisation, thus establishing a second state alongside the rightful state”[48]. The method of doubling offices had a precise aim, namely that of creating “positions for party members” that could not be implemented in the state’s bureaucratic structure. However, at its core the doubling of offices was meant to limit the party’s power by the creation of a seemingly competing organism inside the Nazi organisation. These competing powers created by the doubling of services were the Party, the SA and the SS[49]. This method of doubling the offices “offered an apparent solution to the problem of the party and the state in all one-party dictatorships”[50]. The doubling of offices was done in the authoritarian regime by creating a second office, the super-office which competed with the party – the Ministry of the NRF organisation. The competition under the new regime meant the supervision of the party and its members, the role of the Ministry being that of focusing and dissolving the party’s power by the method of appointing and hierarchic control. All decisions were sent to the Ministry through the hierarchy and internal communications from the party’s super-structure were also sent through the hierarchy. In this way, the state’s control was vertical as well as horizontal inside the sole political structure.

The creation of the forceful political police that the regime used was meant to monitor state clerks inside and outside the sole political organisation. The two offices were part of the Ministry of the National Renaissance Front. The Circles of Studies, the political and ideological instrument and also the Service of Information and Statistics gathered and processed the data about the members and parliament members of the party.

Although the militarisation of politics and administration was the instrument which prevented the promotion of the regime’s ideology, its ideas were spread by the clergy and religious institutions. The non-political, but politically-affiliated institution of the authoritarian regime was actually the Church. With the help of the clergy, the regime was able to spread its ideas at local level, something that could not be done by the National Renaissance Front, by the National Guard, the Ministry of the NRF, or by the Circles of Studies, structures which conceived and applied the organisation’s political strategies. Since the very moment it was created, the new regime’s support resided in the Church.

The Church was the propaganda institution in places where the messages of the Ministry of Propaganda or of the Circles of Studies could not reach. On the one hand, the Church played a major role in the propaganda process for the benefit of the totalitarian organism in the late stages of the authoritarian monarchy. Priests were asked by the National Party members to advertise for the enrolling of citizens in the party. On the other hand, the NRF Ministry recommended organisation leaders that where they had priests of both Romanian Churches (Orthodox and Unified) they should find ways to appoint both creeds in Community Councils in order to avoid confessional conflicts. The collaboration of the Orthodox Church with the regime of the authoritarian monarchy was possible because none of the group made by the NRF, National Guard and the army managed to promote through the state doctrine the ideology of the single party and of the new regime, the latter being supported more by priests than by the Ministry of the National Renaissance Front or by the Ministry of Propaganda.

Under Carol’s regime they managed to have an agreement between the Church and the Party-State, but regardless of the Romanian state’s organisation, be it authoritarian, totalitarian or democratic, the Church has always supported, in general in and particular, any form of political regime. On the other hand, the identification of the single party with religious faith was not a true one in Romania, in contradistinction to Italy. The members of the NRF did not consider the Party as a Church or a religious military order, as it happened with Italian Fascism. Carol’s NRF doctrine did not use totalitarian politics to create an organisation similar to that of the Catholic Church, as was the case in fascist Italy. The authoritarian regime tried to implement certain aspects of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes to follow the authoritarian political fashion of the era. The creation of the National Renaissance Front, based on corporate innovations and ideological language of nationalistic nature was just a political instrument used by the King and the Ministry-State.



ARENDT, Hannah, Originile totalitarismului, trans. Ion Dur and Mircea Ivănescu, Editura Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2006.

ARON, Raymond, Democraţie şi totalitarism, trans. Simona Ceauşu, ALL, Bucureşti, 2001.

BLAGA, Lucian, “Renaştere sau creaţie?”, Zece ani de domnie ai M.S. Regelui Carol al II-lea, Organizarea Politică, Juridică şi administrativă, Vol. I, Editura Cartea Românească, Bucureşti, 1940, pp. 341-344.

BURDEAU, Georges, Traité de Science Politique, VI – Les régimes politiques, PUF, Paris, 1985.

CĂLINESCU, Armand, Noul Regim, Imprimeria Centrală, Bucureşti, 1939.

GENTILE, Emilio, “Fascism as Political Religion”, Journal of Contemporary History, SAGE, London Newbury, Park and New Delhi, Vol. 25, May-June 1990, pp. 229-251.

GIRARDET, Raoul, Mituri şi mitologii politice, trans. Daniel Dimitru, Editura Institutul European, Iaşi, 1997.

GRECU, Florin, “Regimul şi principiile Constituţiei de la 1938”, Sfera Politicii, No. 172, 2012, pp. 70-82.

MILLON-DELSOL, Chantal, Ideile politice ale secolului XX, trans. Velica Boari, Editura Polirom, Iaşi, 2002.

PĂTRĂŞCANU, Lucreţiu, Sub trei dictaturi, Editura Enciclopedică, Bucureşti, 1970.

RALEA, Mihail, “Lămuriri asupra proiectului de lege pentru recunoaşterea breslelor”, “Desbaterile parlamentare”, Adunarea Deputaţilor, şedinţa de luni, 10 iulie 1939,  Monitorul Oficial,  Nr. 10, Imprimeria Centrală, Bucureşti, 1939.

SARTORI, Giovanni, Teoria democraţiei reinterpretată, trans. Doru Pop, Editura Polirom, Bucureşti,  1999.

STANOMIR, Ioan,, “Constituţie, „Coroană” şi „ţară”. Constituţionalism şi monarhie autoritară în intervalul 1938-1940”, Studia Politica, Revista Română de Ştiinţă Politică,Vol. III, No. 1, Meridiane, Bucureşti, 2003, pp. 85-112.

Ţara Nouă prin Munca Tuturor, Biblioteca FRN, Editat de  Subsecretariatul de Stat al Propagandei, Imprimeria Statului, Bucureşti, 1939.

VLĂDESCU, Theodor, Frontul Renaşterii Naţionale, originea şi doctrina, Imprimeriile Statului, Bucureşti, 1939.

WEBER, Max, The Theory of  Social and Economic Organization, trans. A.M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons, The Free Press, New York & London, 1964.


Universul, No. 344 of December 17, 1938.

Universul, No. 126 of May 11, 1939.

Archival documents

A.N.I.C., Fond FRN, dosar 2/1939-1940.

A.N.I.C., Fond FRN, dosar 6/ 1939-1940.

[1] Chantal MILLON-DELSOL, Ideile politice ale secolului XX, trans. Velica Boari, Editura Polirom, Iaşi, 2002, p. 113.

[2] Ioan STANOMIR, “Constituţie, „Coroană” şi „ţară”. Constituţionalism şi monarhie autoritară în intervalul 1938-1940”, Studia Politica, Revista Română de Ştiinţă Politică,Vol. III, No. 1, Editura Meridiane, Bucureşti, 2003, p. 94.

[3] Raoul GIRARDET, Mituri şi mitologii politice, trans. Daniel Dimitru, Editura Institutul European, Iaşi, 1997, pp. 47-75.

[4] Chantal MILLON-DELSOL, Ideile politice…cit., p. 113.

[5] Ibidem, p. 97.

[6] Lucian BLAGA, “Renaştere sau creaţie?”, Zece ani de domnie ai M.S. Regelui Carol al II-lea, Organizarea Politică, Juridică şi administrativă, Vol. I,  Editura Cartea Românească, Bucureşti, 1940, p. 341.

[7] Chantal MILLON-DELSOL, Ideile politice…cit., p. 112.

[8] Ibidem, p. 114.

[9] Raymond ARON, Democraţie şi totalitarism, trans. Simona Ceauşu, ALL, Bucureşti, 2001, p. 203.

[10] Mihail RALEA, “Lămuriri asupra proiectului de lege pentru recunoaşterea breslelor”, “Desbaterile parlamentare”, Adunarea Deputaţilor, şedinţa de luni, 10 iulie 1939,  Monitorul Oficial,  Nr. 10, Imprimeria Centrală, Bucureşti, 1939, p. 42.

[11] Raymond ARON, Democraţie şi totalitarism…cit., p. 203.

[12] Max WEBER, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, trans. A. M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons, The Free Press, New York & London, 1964, pp. 130-132.

[13] Georges BURDEAU, Traité de Science Politique, VI – Les régimes politiques, PUF, Paris, 1985, pp. 144-145.

[14] “Înfiinţarea organizaţiei politice F.R.N”, Universul, the 55th year, No. 344 of 17, December, 1938, p. 1.

[15] Ibidem, p. 1.

[16] Ibidem, p. 1.

[17] Lucreţiu P ĂTRĂȘCANU, Sub trei dictaturi, Editura Enciclopedică, Bucureşti, 1970, p. 121.

[18] Chantal MILLON-DELSOL, Ideile politice…cit., p. 95.

[19] Ibidem, p. 95.

[20] Giovanni SARTORI, Teoria democraţiei reinterpretată, trans. Doru Pop, Editura Polirom, Bucureşti,  1999, p. 192.

[21]Ibidem, p. 192.

[22]Cuvântarea lui Anibal Teodorescu”, în Ţara Nouă prin Munca Tuturor, Biblioteca FRN, Editat de Subsecretariatul de Stat al Propagandei, Imprimeria Statului, Bucureşti, 1939, p. 56.

[23] Theodor VL ĂDESCU, Frontul Renaşterii Naţionale, originea şi doctrina, Imprimeriile Statului, Bucureşti, 1939. p. 20.

[24] Emilio GENTILE, “Fascism as Political Religion”, Journal of Contemporary History, SAGE, London Newbury, Park and New Delhi, Vol. 25, May-June 1990, p. 229.

[25]  “Constituţiune:  promulgată cu Înaltul decret-regal, nr.1045 din 27 februarie”, Monitorul Oficial, nr. 48, partea I bis, din 27 februarie 1938, Bucureşti, Editura Monitorul Oficial, Bucureşti, 1938, p. 15.

[26] Florin GRECU, “Regimul şi principiile Constituţiei de la 1938”, Sfera Politicii, No. 172, 2012, pp. 70-82.

[27] “Şedinţa Consiliului Superior al FRN. Comemorarea Regelui Carol I. Cuvântarea d-lui prim-ministru Armand Călinescu”, Universul, the 56th year, No. 126 of  11 May, 1939, p.  9.

[28] Theodor VLĂDESCU, Frontul Renaşterii Naţionale…cit., p. 20.

[29] Armand C ĂLINESCU, Noul Regim, Imprimeria Centrală, Bucureşti, 1939, p. 104.

[30] Ibidem, p. 104.

[31] Theodor VL ĂDESCU, Frontul Renaşterii Naţionale…cit., p. 20.

[32] Ibidem, p. 20.

[33] Chantal MILLON-DELSOL, Ideile politice…cit., p. 116.

[34] Art. cit., Universul, No. 344 of 17, December, 1938, p. 2.

[35] A.N.I.C., Fond FRN, dosar 2/1939-1940, f. 137.

[36] Ibidem, f. 138.

[37] Ibidem, f. 138.

[38] Idem, dosar 6/ 1939-1940, f. 36.

[39] Ibidem, f. 36.

[40] A.N.I.C., Fond FRN, dosar 2/1939-1940, f. 139.

[41] Ibidem, f. 330.

[42] Ibidem, f. 317.

[43] Ibidem, f. 318.

[44] Ibidem, f. 318.

[45] Ibidem, f. 318.

[46] Ibidem, f. 318.

[47] Ibidem, f. 318.

[48] Hannah ARENDT, Originile totalitarismului, trans. Ion Dur and Mircea Ivănescu, Editura Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2006, p. 489.

[49] Ibidem, p. 493.                                                                                                             

[50] Ibidem, p.492.