Iuliu Maniu

Iuliu Maniu
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2000-0518-507, Julius Maniu.jpg
32nd Prime Minister of Romania
In office
10 November 1928 – 6 June 1930
MonarchMichael I
Preceded byVintilă Brătianu
Succeeded byGheorghe Mironescu
In office
13 June 1930 – 9 October 1930
MonarchCarol II
Preceded byGheorghe Mironescu
Succeeded byGheorghe Mironescu
In office
20 October 1932 – 13 January 1933
MonarchCarol II
Preceded byAlexandru Vaida-Voevod
Succeeded byAlexandru Vaida-Voevod
Leader of the National Peasants' Party
In office
10 October 1926 – June 1931
Preceded byHimself (as leader of the Romanian National Party)
Ion Mihalache (as leader of the Peasants' Party)
Succeeded byIon Mihalache
In office
July 1932 – January 1933
Preceded byIon Mihalache
Succeeded byAlexandru Vaida-Voevod
In office
December 1937 – July 1947
Preceded byIon Mihalache
Succeeded byNone (Party dissolved)
President of the Romanian National Party
In office
23 February 1919 – 10 October 1926
Preceded byGheorghe Pop de Băsești
Succeeded byHimself (party merged into the National Peasants' Party)
Personal details
Born(1873-01-08)January 8, 1873
Szilágybadacsony, Austria-Hungary (now Bădăcin, part of Pericei, Sălaj County, Romania)
DiedFebruary 5, 1953(1953-02-05) (aged 80)
Sighet Prison, Romanian People's Republic
Political partyRomanian National Party (1890–1926)
National Peasants' Party (1926–1947)
Alma materFranz Joseph University
University of Budapest
University of Vienna

Iuliu Maniu (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈjulju maˈni.u] (About this soundlisten); 8 January 1873 – 5 February 1953) was an Austro-Hungarian-born lawyer and Romanian politician. He was a leader of the National Party of Transylvania and Banat before and after World War I, playing an important role in the Union of Transylvania with Romania.

Maniu served as Prime Minister of Romania for three terms during 1928–1933, and, with Ion Mihalache, co-founded the National Peasants' Party. Arrested by the ascendant communist authorities in 1947 as a result of the Tămădău affair, he was convicted of treason in a show trial and sent to Sighet Prison, where he died six years later.

Early years

Maniu was born to an ethnic Romanian family in Szilágybadacsony, Austria-Hungary (now Bădăcin, Sălaj County, Romania); his parents were Ioan Maniu and Clara Maniu. He finished the Calvinist College in Zalău in 1890, and studied Law at Franz Joseph University in Kolozsvár (Cluj), then at the University of Budapest and the University of Vienna, being awarded the doctorate in 1896.

Maniu joined the Romanian National Party of Transylvania and Banat (PNR), became a member of its collective leadership body in 1897, and represented it in the Budapest Parliament on several occasions. He settled in Blaj, and served as a lawyer for the Greek Catholic Church (to which he belonged). Maniu was influenced by the activity of Simion Bărnuțiu, a maternal uncle of his father, Ioan Maniu.

After serving as an advisor for Archduke Franz Ferdinand, counseling on the latter's projects to redefine the Habsburg states along the lines of a United States of Greater Austria, Maniu moved towards the option of a union with the Romanian Old Kingdom when the Archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914.

PNR leadership

King Ferdinand with Maniu and generals Constantin Prezan, Gheorghe Mărdărescu, and Ștefan Panaitescu [ro] at Békéscsaba, 24 May 1919

Together with such figures as Vasile Goldiș, Gheorghe Pop de Băsești, the Romanian Orthodox cleric Miron Cristea, and Alexandru Vaida-Voevod, Maniu engaged in an intensive unionist campaign, leading to the Alba Iulia gathering on 1 December 1918, during which Romanians demanded separation from Austria-Hungary. On 2 December, Maniu became head of Transylvania's Directory Council – a position equivalent to interim governorship.

Bust of Iuliu Maniu in Alba Iulia

In May 1919, during the Hungarian–Romanian War, he accompanied King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie on a visit to Alba Iulia, Oradea, and Carei, and a meeting with the frontline troops at Békéscsaba.[1]

After the creation of Greater Romania, the PNR formed the government in Bucharest—a cabinet led by Al. Vaida-Voevod and allied with Ion Mihalache's Peasants' Party. It entered in competition with one of the traditional parties of the Romanian Kingdom, the National Liberal Party, and with its leader Ion I. C. Brătianu, when the Peasants' Party deadlocked the Parliament of Romania with calls for a widespread land reform.

After King Ferdinand I dissolved Parliament, Iuliu Maniu found himself at odds with the national leadership, especially after the new Prime Minister Alexandru Averescu, with support from the National Liberals, dissolved the Transylvanian Council in April 1920. Consequently, Maniu refused to attend King Ferdinand's Crowning ceremony as King of Greater Romania (held in Alba Iulia, in 1922), seeing it as an attempt to tie multi-religious Transylvania to Orthodoxy. At the same time, the PNR rejected the centralization imposed by the 1923 Constitution favored by Brătianu, and demanded that any constitutional reform be passed by a Constituent Assembly, and not by a regular vote in Parliament. Citing fears that the PNL had ensured a grip over Romanian politics, the PNR and the Peasants' Party united in 1926, and Maniu was the President of the new political force, the National Peasants' Party (PNȚ), for the following seven years, and again between 1937 and 1947.

PNȚ in interwar Romania

Despite its success in elections, the PNȚ was blocked out of government by the Royal Prerogative of King Ferdinand, who had preferred to nominate Brătianu, Averescu, and Prince Barbu Știrbey. Maniu publicly protested, and attempted to organize a peasants' march on Bucharest as a public show of support modeled on the Alba Iulia assembly. He also showed himself open to deals proposed by Viscount Rothermere regarding a review of the Treaty of Trianon[citation needed] and, as King Ferdinand's death approached, started negotiations with the disinherited Prince Carol (King Ferdinand's son), proposing that the latter bypass the Constitution and crown himself in Alba Iulia (as a new foundation for the Romanian Kingdom). Talks with Carol were ended abruptly after the Romanian authorities called on the United Kingdom to expel the Prince from its territory.

The PNȚ first came to power in November 1928, after both King Ferdinand and Brătianu had died; in the elections of that year, it allied itself with the Romanian Social Democratic Party and the German Party. In 1930, Maniu manoeuvered against the Constitution, and, together with Gheorghe Mironescu, brought about Carol's return and deposition of his son Michael. However, Carol did not respect the terms of his agreement with Maniu, refusing to resume his marriage to Queen Elena. After alternating governments of Maniu and Vaida-Voevod that had brought the party into conflict with the King's inner circle and with his lover, Magda Lupescu, during its tenure his government was faced with a strike by coal miners in the Jiu Valley and major social and economic problems caused by the Great Depression in Romania. Maniu resigned for the third and final time on 13 January 1933, due to his ongoing conflict with King Carol.

Under successive dictatorships

The country moved towards an authoritarian regime formed around Carol and prompted by the rapid growth of the fascist Iron Guard. In 1937, Maniu agreed to sign an electoral pact with the Iron Guard's Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, in the hope that this would block the monarch's maneuvers. The king instead sought an agreement with other members of the political class, including the National Liberal Ion Duca and the former PNȚ politician Armand Călinescu, while clamping down on the Iron Guard—leading to a wave of similar actions in reprisal.

With the loss of Northern Transylvania, Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and Southern Dobruja in 1940, Carol conceded power and exiled himself, leading to the creation of the National Legionary State around the Iron Guard and General Ion Antonescu, a regime which aligned Romania with Nazi Germany and the Axis. The PNȚ survived in semi-clandestinity and, after Antonescu purged the Guard, achieved some unofficial status when Maniu began holding talks with the general over several issues (notably, he called for an end to persecution of the Jews and transports of Jews to Transnistria). He remained an opponent of Antonescu, a view which he balanced with his adversity towards the Soviet Union, and joined the plotters of the pro-Allied royal coup of 23 August 1944, while expressing his resentment of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) involvement.


Maniu's last appeal at his trial, November 11, 1947
Maniu death certificate, 1957

Subsequently, Maniu was a prominent supporter of the Western Allies and one of the main adversaries of growing Soviet influence in Romania. His party became the predilect target of PCR hostility.[2] PNȚ supporters and Communists engaged in several street fights in February 1945.

The PNȚ finished a distant second in the November 1946 general election with 33 seats, well behind the Communist-dominated Bloc of Democratic Parties (BPD). After the fall of Communism in 1989, some authors went as far as to claim that the PNȚ had actually won the election but was denied victory because of widespread electoral fraud on the part of the pro-Communist Petru Groza government.[3] Later, historian Petre Țurlea reviewed a confidential Communist Party report about the election that revealed the BPD had actually come up short of a majority. Țurlea concluded that had the election been conducted honestly, the PNȚ and the other opposition parties could have won enough votes between them to form a coalition government, albeit with far less than the 80 percent support long claimed by opposition supporters.[4]

After 1946, the PNȚ was sidelined, with the PCR ensuring the collaboration of several former party members, such as Nicolae L. Lupu and Anton Alexandrescu [ro].

In a telegram to the State Department, the US representative in Romania, Burton Y. Berry, wrote:

"The Department well knows that Maniu has stood out boldly as a champion of pro-Allied action and sentiment in Rumania even during the dark days of the Antonescu dictatorship. He has an enormous political following in the country and I believe the respect in which all Rumanians hold him eclipses that held for any other Rumanian. Because of what he has been and what he is it seems important that he be preserved from slipping into sharing the general conviction that the dissolution of the Rumanian state is now in progress."[5]

The party was outlawed in July 1947. That month, Ion Mihalache attempted to flee the country in an airplane, which landed at Tămădău, allegedly to establish a government-in-exile (see Tămădău affair). That was judged as an act of treason, and both Maniu and Mihalache faced a kangaroo court that sentenced them in November 1947 to life imprisonment at hard labour; given their advanced age, that amounted to a death sentence. The show trial, signaling the suppression of opposition groups, was a significant step towards the establishment of an undisguised Communist regime in Romania.


Iuliu Maniu died in 1953 in Sighet Prison, and his body was thrown into the common grave in the courtyard. The official death certificate listed his occupation as "unemployed", and the death cause as circulatory failure and chronic myocarditis.

On November 12, 1998, the High Court of Cassation and Justice ordered the rehabilitation of Maniu and removed the additional punishment of confiscation of property, pronounced in 1947.


Maniu on a 2018 stamp of Romania

A bust of Maniu was placed in Bucharest's Revolution Square, in front of the building of the former Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party (from where Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife fled by helicopter on December 22, 1989). Sculpted in bronze by Mircea Corneliu Spătaru [ro], the monument was inaugurated on December 1, 1998, on the 80th anniversary of Great Union Day. There are also busts of Maniu in Alba Iulia, Bădăcin, Baia Mare, Satu Mare, Șimleu Silvaniei, and Zalău.

One of the main thoroughfares in Bucharest is the Iuliu Maniu Boulevard, which runs from the A1 motorway to the Lion's Plaza for a length of 6.8 km (4.2 mi). There are also streets and boulevards named after him in Arad, Brașov, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Deva, Oradea, Satu Mare, Timișoara, and Tulcea, as well as high schools that bear his name in Bucharest, Carei, Oradea, and Șimleu Silvaniei.

Maniu appears on two postage stamps emitted by Poșta Română, one from 1973 and one from 2018, both commemorating Great Union Day.


  1. ^ "Ferdinand I Întregitorul. Expoziție virtuală. Vizitele familiei regale în ținuturile românești". movio.biblacad.ro (in Romanian). Library of the Romanian Academy. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  2. ^ Markham, Reuben (1949). Rumania Under the Soviet Yoke. Boston: Meador Publishing Co. p. 386.
  3. ^ Romania at Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ Petre Țurlea, "Alegerile parlamentare din noiembrie '46: guvernul procomunist joacă și câștigă. Ilegalități flagrante, rezultat viciat" ("The Parliamentary Elections of November '46: the Pro-Communist Government Plays and Wins. Blatant Unlawfulness, Tampered Result"), p. 35–36
  5. ^ Ambassador in Rumania Burton Berry to the Secretary of State of the United States Stettinius, "871.01/12-944: Telegram / The American Representative in Rumania (Burton) to the Secretary of State / Bucharest, December 9, 1944, 7 p.m., received 9:45 p.m.

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