Ion Iliescu Biography

(Former President of Romania)

Birthday: March 3, 1930 (Pisces)

Born In: Oltenița

Ion Iliescu is a Romanian politician who served as the President of Romania from 1989 until 1996, and from 2000 until 2004. Over the course of his extensive political career he also served as a senator for the Social Democratic Party (PSD) from 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 until his retirement in 2008. The son of a man who harbored communist views, Iliescu’s interest in politics took root when he was quite young. He studied at the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute before moving to Russia as a foreign student at the Energy Institute of the Moscow University. He joined the Communist Party in 1953 and has been playing a vital role in Romania’s politics since then. By 1965, he had become a member of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party. Once a protégé of the powerful politician Nicolae Ceaușescu, he was gradually marginalized by his former mentor who had started viewing the rising stature of Iliescu as a threat. He opposed President Ceaușescu's harsh rule and played a leading role in the Romanian Revolution following which Ceaușescu was overthrown and executed. Ion Iliescu then became the country’s first freely elected head of state and assumed the office of the president.
Quick Facts

Age: 94 Years, 94 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Elena Iliescu

father: Alexandru Iliescu

mother: Maria Dumitru Toma

Political Leaders Romanian Men

Founder/Co-Founder: Social Democratic Party, Democratic National Salvation Front

More Facts

education: Moscow State University, Politehnica University of Bucharest

  • 1

    What role did Ion Iliescu play in the Romanian Revolution of 1989?

    Ion Iliescu played a significant role in the Romanian Revolution of 1989, as he became the country's president following the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu.

  • 2

    What political party did Ion Iliescu lead in Romania?

    Ion Iliescu led the Social Democratic Party of Romania (formerly known as the Romanian Communist Party) during his political career.

  • 3

    How many terms did Ion Iliescu serve as the President of Romania?

    Ion Iliescu served three non-consecutive terms as the President of Romania, from 1990 to 1996, then from 2000 to 2004, and finally from 2004 to 2009.

  • 4

    What controversial decisions or policies is Ion Iliescu known for during his time as President?

    Ion Iliescu faced criticism for his handling of the Mineriads, violent crackdowns on anti-government protests by miners, and his involvement in the aftermath of the Romanian Revolution.
  • 5

    How did Ion Iliescu impact Romania's transition from communism to democracy?

    Ion Iliescu played a crucial role in Romania's transition from communism to democracy, overseeing the country's transformation and guiding it through a tumultuous period of change.
Childhood & Early Life
Ion Iliescu was born on 3 March 1930 in Oltenița, Călărași, Romania, to Alexandru Iliescu. His father was a railroad worker with Communist views who went to the Soviet Union to take part in the Communist Party Congress of Moscow when Ion was a small child. He was arrested upon his return.
He attended the Industrial Polizu High School, Spiru Haret High School and Sfantul Sava High School. Inheriting his father’s passion for communism, he joined the Union of Communist Youth in 1944.
Iliescu studied fluid mechanics at the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute and was accepted as a foreign student at the Energy Institute of the Moscow University.
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He began working as a designer engineer at the Energy Engineering Institute in Bucharest in 1955. He was also active in politics during this period, having joined the Communist Party in 1953. He founded the Union of College Students’ Associations of Romania in 1956.
He was a protégé of the powerful communist politician Nicolae Ceaușescu and greatly benefitted when Ceaușescu was elected the party general secretary in 1965. Iliescu became a member of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party the same year.
Over the ensuing years he gained considerable power within the Romanian Communist Party and at one point of time he served as the head of the Central Committee's Department of Propaganda. From 1967-71, he was the Minister for Youth-related Issues.
Iliescu’s rising political stature, however, disturbed Ceaușescu who started feeling threatened. By 1971, Ceaușescu began marginalizing Iliescu who was by now being viewed as his heir apparent.
In 1974, Ceaușescu became the President of Romania. During this time, Iliescu was made the president of the Iași Council. By this time he had fallen out of favor with Ceaușescu who divested Iliescu of all major responsibilities. When Iliescu started opposing the president’s increasingly harsh rule, he was expelled from the Central Committee in 1984.
The late 1980s marked a very tumultuous period in Romanian history. The Romanian Revolution began in 1989 in which Iliescu played a leading role. The violent revolution overthrew Ceaușescu’s government following which he was arrested and executed.
After the revolution, a political organization National Salvation Front (FSN) was formed which became the governing body of Romania. Iliescu was made the leader of the organization, and the acting President of Romania on 22 December 1989. The following year, he became Romania's first freely elected head of state after winning the 1990 election.
A new constitution was formed in 1991, and the following year he was re-elected to presidency. In 1992, Iliescu and many other members left the FSN and created the Democratic National Salvation Front (FDSN), which eventually developed to the current Social Democratic Party (PSD).
Even though he received much support as a revolutionary during the beginning of his term, his popularity began to wane as he was unable to bring about an atmosphere of economic and political stability. He lost the 1996 elections.
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He still remained active in politics and authored several books during the 1990s including ‘Revolution and Reform’ (1993), ‘The Revolution as I Lived It’ (1995), ‘Moments of History’ (1996), ‘Political Life between Violence and Dialogue’ (1998), and ‘Whereto, Romanian Society?’ (1999).
He ran again in the 2000 presidential election and won against Corneliu Vadim Tudor. During his second term he was able to gain entry for Romania into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. His term as the president ended on 20 December 2004.
His presidency was marred by several scandals including allegations of connection with KGB, the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954 until its break-up in 1991. He was also criticized for pardoning several criminals convicted for corruption or other economic crimes.
Major Works
Ion Iliescu played a major role in the Romanian Revolution which brought an end to 42 years of Communist rule in Romania with the show trial and execution of the last Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu. He became the acting president of the nation when a new government was formed after the revolution.
Awards & Achievements
In 1971, he was bestowed with the Order "The Star of the Romanian Socialist Republic First Class."
In 2003, he was decorated with the Croatian honor of Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav "For outstanding contribution to the promotion of friendship and development co-operation between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Romania".
Personal Life & Legacy
Ion Iliescu married Nina Șerbănescu in 1951. The couple does not have any children.
Facts About Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu was known for his passion for literature and poetry, often quoting Romanian writers and poets in his speeches.
Despite his political career, Iliescu was also known for his interest in sports, particularly swimming and tennis.
Iliescu was a supporter of cultural exchanges and international cooperation, promoting cultural diplomacy during his time in office.
In his later years, Iliescu became an advocate for environmental protection and sustainable development, highlighting the importance of preserving natural resources.
Iliescu was known for his sense of humor and charm, often engaging in lighthearted banter with journalists and colleagues.

See the events in life of Ion Iliescu in Chronological Order

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