The year 1946 and political collaborationism

the year 1946 and political collaborationism		A lot has been written about political collaborationism in relation to the communist regime and about the political collaborationism of intellectuals in particular

In Romania, the word is also used with respect to the association of specific factions of democratic parties with communist parties, for electoral purposes, in the second half of the 1940s. This was in fact one of the communists' chief strategies in the elections: they attracted dissidents from traditional parties in order to mislead voters and to persuade them to vote for candidates that were close to the communists. Ahead of the November 1946 elections in Romania, groups had splintered from all the traditional parties, such as the National Peasant Party, the National Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. These groups disagreed with their respective party leaders, and instead were very approving of the coalition headed by the communists. The Anton Alexandrescu National Peasant Party group had splintered from the National Peasant Party, the Gheorghe Tatarescu National Liberal Party had splintered from the National Liberal Party, whereas the Social Democratic Party was taken over completely and its president, Constantin Titel-Petrescu, had to start from scratch. He set up the Independent Social Democratic Party, which was the true heir of the Romanian Social Democratic legacy.

Dan Amedeo Lazarescu, a legal professional who served time in communist prisons in the 1950s, was a member of the Liberal Youth in the mid-1940s and a witness to all that political scheming. Interviewed by Radio Romania's Centre for Oral History in 1996, Lazarescu remembers that in the meeting where the National Liberal Party's election strategy was being discussed, the leader of the Tatarescu Liberal dissident group, Petre Bejan, was urging all Liberals to join the communists in the election.

Dan Amedeo Lazarescu: "We'd been told that election-wise, the Communist Party was nothing. The whole country would vote for Maniu. Our party was next to nothing, in terms of voters. So if we went separate way, we would be crushed and only if we stood together would be able to succeed. Then my good friend, the brilliant lawyer Patriciu Popescu, who was a great speaker, said: 'Mister president, the type of action you have pleaded for does not make much sense. You said that election-wise, the Communist Party is zero. Election-wise, our party is nothing. But does that mean that if the two parties merge, they can win parliamentary majority? What would the outcome of that be, if nothing adds up to nothing? There is something wrong here!' A round of applause erupted and the secret voting was again called for. Petre Bejan, insisted for an open voting and more than two thirds voted for running on common voting lists."

The liberals who opposed participation in election alongside communists, also called "opinionists", returned to the National Liberal Party lead by Dinu Bratianu, the true exponent of Romanian liberalism.

Dan Amedeo Lazarescu: "The opinionists, opted for following Dinu Bratianu. Since all of them were my friends, especially Dumitru Alimanesteanu, Bentoiu and especially Costel Tataranu and Aznavorian, I mediated their transition and very quickly they returned, but with great resistance on the part of some of Dinu Bratianu's men. The head of the Neamt Liberal organization, Alexandru Guranda, was strongly against the return of the opinionists to the Liberal Patry, yet in the long run Dinu Bratianu was wise enough receive them back. Consequently, Tatarascu and his men decided to run on common voting lists, while the opinionists followed Dinu Bratianu. "

The Social Democrats had an even tougher fate since their party was simply confiscated through an internal coup.

Dan Amedeo Lazarescu: "With Titel Petrescu things were a little bit more dramatic. It is here that the government intervened. Around March 17 or 18, 1946, Titel Petrescu decided to run on separate lists and he had delivered a famous speech at the Athenaeum, a speech that I heard, where he eulogized the United States, who won the war with the obvious support of the Soviet Union. The enthusiasm was tremendous; the auditorium was packed with people, while in the Palace Square, in front of the Athenaeum, the Social-Democrat youth was chanting slogans in favor of Titel Petrescu. Titel Petrescu however, was very decided not to run on common lists with the communists, so he asked for a party congress, being confident he would have the majority. He had appointed his friend, Voitec, as public instructions minister, although Maniu ceded him that ministry on condition that he would personally run it. He relied less on Lucretiu Patrascanu and lesser on Tudor Ionescu, a Radical Party member. Iunian's Radical Party was made up of 6 members and each of the 6 members opted for another political group: Ion Gheorghe Maurer joined the communists, Misu Paleologu, who was the party's secretary general, remained with the Peasant Party, while Tudor Ionescu, my former Physics professor at the Spiru Haret high-school, a university professor and a mines and oil Minister in the Petru Groza government,  joined the Social-Democrats."

The outcome of the November 19, 1946 election proved the then Romanian electorate could not be fooled. The National Peasant Party and the National Liberal Party got 78% of the votes together, while the Communist-led coalition, jointly with the collaborationists, were unable to get more than 22% of the votes, despite massive vote rigging. However, in the end, the result was reversed and from then on, until 1989, political elections were a succession of masquerades.
Publicat: 2019-07-13 11:06:00
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