Ion Ratiu, the elected leader of the World Union of Free Romanians, based in London, was the most outspoken and consistent voice of opposition to Nicolae Ceaușescu. Journalist, broadcaster and author, he was also a successful businessman in the shipping and property industries, while simultaneously assisting in the rescue and support of many who fled Ceaușescu’s dictatorship.
Exiled in London after the communist takeover of Romania in 1946, Ion Ratiu threw himself into the struggle against communism, becoming a regular contributor to the Romanian Service of the BBC, Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America. In 1957 his book “Policy for the West” was published, radically challenging contemporary western views on the nature of communism. In 1975, the year he published “Contemporary Romania”, Ion Rațiu decided to devote all his energy to the pursuit of a free Romania.
After 50 years in exile, he returned to his homeland in 1990 to run as president. Although he won a seat in Parliament, which allowed him to serve his country for ten years, his failure to win the presidency was a disappointment to many. Even today, Ion Rațiu is remembered fondly among Romanians, often referred to as “the best president Romania never had”.