|About | Contact | Mongabay on Facebook | Mongabay on Twitter | Subscribe|
Romania - GOVERNMENT
THE PROMULGATION of the Constitution of 1965, in which Romania officially proclaimed its status as a socialist republic, was a milestone on its path toward communism. The country had set out on that path in 1945 when the Soviet Union pressured King Michael to appoint communists to key government positions, where they provided the power base for a complete communist takeover and the abolition of the monarchy in December 1947. The political system installed in April 1948, when the Romanian People's Republic was created, was a replica of the Soviet model. The system's goal was to create the conditions for the transition from capitalism through socialism to communism.
The formal structure of the government established by the Constitution of 1965 was changed in a significant way by a 1974 amendment that established the office of president of the republic. The occupant of that office was to act as the head of state in both domestic and international affairs. The first president of the republic, Nicolae Ceausescu, still held the office in mid-1989 and acted as head of state, head of the Romanian Communist Party (Partidul Comunist Român-- PCR), and commander of the armed forces. His wife, Elena Ceausescu, had risen to the second most powerful position in the hierarchy, and close family members held key posts throughout the party and state bureaucracies. The pervasive presence of the Ceausescus was the distinctive feature of Romania's power structure.
Romania's political system was one of the most centralized and bureaucratized in the world. At the end of the 1980s, the Council of Ministers had more than sixty members and was larger than the council of any other European communist government except the Soviet Union. Joint party-state organizations not envisioned by the Constitution emerged and proliferated. The organizations functioned as a mechanism by which the PCR and the Ceausescus controlled all government activity and preempted threats to their rule.
Despite Ceausescu's tight control of the organs of power and the effectiveness of the secret police, more properly the Department of State Security (Departmentamentul Securitii Statului--Securitate), in repressing dissent, sporadic political opposition to the regime surfaced in the 1980s. The Western media published letters written by prominent retired communist officials accusing Ceausescu of violating international human rights agreements, mismanaging the economy, and alienating Romania's allies.
Although Romania remained in Soviet-dominated military and economic alliances, PCR leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and his successor, Ceausescu, pursued a defiantly independent foreign policy. During the 1958-75 period, they successfully cultivated contacts with the West, gaining most-favored-nation trading status from the United States and membership in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and other international organizations. Romania condemned the Soviet-led Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact) invasion of Czechoslovakia and was the only member of the pact to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel following the June 1967 War. After 1975, however, Romania became increasingly isolated from the West, on which Ceausescu heaped much of the blame for his country's economic dilemma. In the 1980s, international outcries against human rights abuses further isolated the Stalinist Romanian regime from both the West and the East. Relations with Hungary were particularly tense, as thousands of ethnic Hungarians fled across the border. At the close of the decade, Ceausescu's regime was badly out of step with the reform movements sweeping the Soviet Union, Poland, and Hungary.
<>Joint Party-State Organizations
<>The Communist Party
<>The Ceausescu Era
Since the imposition of full communist control in December 1947, Romania has had three constitutions. The first, designating the country a "people's republic," was adopted by the Grand National Assembly (GNA) in April 1948, just four weeks after the assembly had been reorganized under new communist leadership. The second, adopted in September 1952, was closer to the Soviet model. The third, ostensibly reflecting Romania's social and ideological development, went into effect on August 21, 1965.
In many ways similar to the initial constitutions of the other Soviet-dominated states of Eastern Europe, the 1948 constitution was designed to mark Romania's entry into the first stage of the transition from capitalism to socialism. There was no separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. As a people's democracy, the state was said derive power from the people's will, expressed through the GNA. A nineteen-member Presidium was elected by and from the GNA membership to provide continuity of legislative authority when the assembly itself was not in session. The highest executive and administrative organ was the Council of Ministers, which functioned under the direction of the prime minister. Although not mentioned in the constitution, the PCR, under close Soviet supervision, functioned as the supreme decision-making authority over and above the government. At the ministry level, the most important decisions were taken under the supervision of Soviet advisers.
The right of private property ownership was guaranteed, although the constitution provided that privately held means of production, banks, and insurance companies could be nationalized when the "general interest" so required. Less than two months after the adoption of the constitution, the GNA passed legislation nationalizing the main industrial and financial institutions.
The organs of state power in the regions, counties, districts, and communes were designated "people's councils." Formally established by law in 1949, these bodies were organized into a centralized system in which the lower-level councils were fully subordinated to the next higher council, and all functioned under the direct control of the central government.
Largely patterned after the 1936 constitution of the Soviet Union, the 1952 constitution specifically designated the Romanian Workers' Party (Partidul Muncitoresc Român--PMR)--as the communist party was known between 1948 and 1965--the country's leading political force. The nation's close ties with the Soviet Union were strongly emphasized, and the Soviets were described as great friends of the Romanian people. Whereas the 1948 constitution declared that "the Romanian People's Republic was born amid the struggle conducted by the people, under the leadership of the working class, against fascism, reaction, and imperialism," the 1952 version asserted that the republic "was born and consolidated following the liberation of the country by the armed forces of the Soviet Union."
As had its predecessor, the 1952 constitution guaranteed full equality to national minority groups, and it also established an autonomous administrative unit for the large ethnic Hungarian population--the Hungarian Autonomous Region. The region was given its own council and local authorities, although these bodies were clearly subordinated to the organs of the central government.
Citizens were guaranteed the right to work for remuneration; the right to rest, ensured by the establishment of an eight-hour workday and paid annual vacation; the right to material security when old, ill, or disabled; and the right to education. The constitution stated that full equality in all aspects of economic, political, and cultural life was guaranteed to all working people regardless of nationality, race, or sex.
The constitution also guaranteed freedom of speech, the press, assembly, public demonstration, and worship. Churches, however, were forbidden to operate schools except for the training of religious personnel. Other provisions guaranteed the protection of the person from arbitrary arrest, the inviolability of the home, and the secrecy of the mails. Citizens also had the right to form public and private organizations, although associations having a "fascist or antidemocratic character" were prohibited.
It was the citizens' duty to observe the constitution and the laws of the republic, to preserve and develop socialist property, to practice work discipline, and to strengthen the "regime of people's democracy." Military service and the defense of the nation were described as duties of honor for all citizens.
In March 1961, the GNA established a commission to draft a new constitution. At the same time, the 1952 constitution was revised to transform the Presidium into the State Council. The new body, vested with supreme executive authority, consisted of a president, three vice presidents, and thirteen members. As was the case with the Presidium, the State Council was elected by and from the GNA membership and was, in theory, responsible to it.
The State Council had three kinds of powers--permanent powers, powers to be exercised between assembly sessions, and special powers that could be exercised in exceptional circumstances. The permanent powers were exercised by the president, who as head of state represented the republic in international relations. Between GNA sessions, the State Council was empowered to oversee the activity of the Council of Ministers, appoint and recall members of the Supreme Court and the commander in chief of the armed forces, supervise the functioning of the office of the prosecutor general, or Procuratura, and convene standing commissions of the assembly.
The council could also issue decrees having the force of law, although, technically, these had to be submitted to the next GNA session for ratification. If circumstances prevented the assembly from convening, the council was authorized to appoint the Council of Ministers, declare war, order mobilization, proclaim a state of emergency, approve the budget, and prepare economic plans.
Although the constitution drafted by the 1961 commission was never adopted, it served as the basis for the work of a second commission named in June 1965. Chaired by Ceausescu, the commission prepared a new draft and submitted it to the party congress and the State Council. After approval by these bodies, the Constitution was adopted by the GNA on August 21, 1965, and after important amendments in 1974, it remained in effect in late 1989.
With the promulgation of the 1965 Constitution, the country was officially renamed the Socialist Republic of Romania. In adopting this name, the Romanian leadership was asserting that the country had completed the transition from capitalism and had become a fullfledged socialist state.
The most innovative provision of the 1965 Constitution is the stipulation that the leading political force in the entire country is the Romanian Communist Party--the only legal party. Under its leadership, the working people have the expressed goal of building a socialist system to create "the conditions for transition to communism."
Whereas the 1952 constitution repeatedly stressed the country's close ties to the Soviet Union and the role of the Red Army in the liberation of Romania, the 1965 Constitution omits all references to the Soviet Union. Instead it refers only to the policy of maintaining friendly and fraternal relations with all socialist states and, in addition, expresses the intention of promoting relations with nonsocialist states.
The 1965 Constitution declares that the basis of the economy is socialist ownership of the means of production. Cooperative farmers, however, are permitted to own some livestock and tools, certain craftsmen are guaranteed ownership of their workshops, and peasants not in cooperatives are able to own small parcels of land and some farm implements. In the 1980s, however, these provisions for private ownership of farmland were violated by a controversial plan known as systemization.
In contrast to the 1952 constitution, which provided for representation in the GNA at a ratio of one deputy for every 40,000 persons, the 1965 document fixed the number of deputies at 465 and required the establishment of that number of electoral districts of equal population. A later amendment reduced the number of deputies to 369.
The provision of the 1952 constitution establishing the Hungarian Autonomous Region among the sixteen regional units was deleted in the 1965 Constitution, ostensibly in order to integrate all minority groups into the Romanian political community. PCR spokesmen asserted that while the heritage and political rights of the various nationality groups would be respected, the country would be united under the leadership of the party. A 1968 territorial reorganization eliminated the sixteen regional units and established a system of thirty-nine (subsequently increased to forty) judete or counties.
In 1989 the major institutions of the central government were the GNA, the State Council, the office of president of the republic, the Council of Ministers, and the court system. The president was elected by the GNA for the duration of a legislative period and remained in office until a successor was elected during the next legislative period.
The Grand National Assembly was nominally the supreme organ of state power and supervised and controlled the functions of all other state organs. It consisted of 369 deputies elected by universal adult suffrage from an equal number of electoral districts for a five-year term of office. In accordance with a 1974 constitutional amendment, the GNA met in regular session twice a year, and special sessions could be called by the State Council, the Bureau of the GNA, or, in theory, by one-third of the total number of deputies. If circumstances prevented the holding of elections, the GNA was empowered to extend its term of office for as long as necessary.
The GNA had the constitutional authority to elect, supervise, and recall the president of the republic, the State Council, the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court, and the attorney general. The GNA had ultimate authority for regulating the electoral system, debating and approving the national economic plan and the state budget, and overseeing the organization and functioning of the people's councils.
The GNA was empowered to establish the general line of the country's foreign policy and had ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of public order and national defense. The Constitution gave it the authority to declare war, but only in the event of aggression against Romania or an ally with which Romania had a mutual-defense treaty. A state of war could also be declared by the State Council.
Other GNA powers included adopting and amending the Constitution and controlling its implementation. Empowered to interpret the Constitution and to determine the constitutionality of laws, the GNA was in effect its own constitutional court. To exercise its authority as interpreter of laws, the GNA elected the Constitution and Legal Affairs Commission, which functioned for the duration of a legislative term. The 1965 Constitution specified that up to one-third of the commission members could be persons who were not GNA deputies. The 1974 amended text, however, omitted this provision. The primary duty of the commission was to provide the assembly with reports and opinions on constitutional questions.
The GNA elected a chairman to preside over sessions and direct activities. The chairman and four elected vice chairmen, who formed the Bureau of the GNA, were assisted in their duties by a panel of six executive secretaries. In addition to the Constitution and Legal Affairs Commission, there were eight other GNA standing commissions: the Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Administration Commission; the Credentials Commission; the Defense Problems Commission; the Education, Science, and Culture Commission; the Foreign Policy and International Economic Cooperation Commission; the Health, Labor, Social Welfare, and Environmental Protection Commission; the Industry and Economic and Financial Activity Commission; and the People's Councils and State Administration Commission. Their functions and responsibilities were substantially increased during the 1970s and 1980s. Reports, bills, or other legislative matters were submitted to the standing commissions by the GNA chairman for study and for recommendations on further action.
To conduct business, the GNA required a quorum of one-half of the deputies plus one. Laws and decisions were adopted by simple majority vote with the exception of an amendment to the Constitution, which required a two-thirds majority of the full assembly. Laws were signed by the president of the republic and published within ten days after adoption.
Until the early 1970s, election to the GNA and to the organs of local government was based on the Soviet model, with one candidate for each seat. A 1972 decree stated that thereafter more than one candidate could be nominated for a deputy seat in the GNA or in the people's councils. In 1975, of 349 seats in the GNA, 139 were open to "multiple candidacy," and in 1980 the ratio was even higher--190 of 369. A total of 594 candidates were nominated by the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front for the 369 GNA seats in the 1985 election. But the front emphasized that the introduction of multiple candidacies was never intended to offer the electorate a choice of political platforms.
The Constitution stipulated that the State Council was the supreme body of state power in permanent session, and that it assumed certain GNA powers when that body was out of session. As of mid-1989, the State Council consisted of the president of the State Council, four vice presidents, a secretary to the president, and fifteen members. At its first session, the newly elected GNA selected the State Council from its own membership. The council remained in office until another was elected by the succeeding GNA. Although the president of the State Council was simultaneously the president of the republic, the Constitution dictated that the council was to function on the principle of collective leadership. In 1989 all but two members of the State Council were also members of the PCR Central Committee and held other important party posts.
Amendments to the Constitution adopted in 1974 reduced the scope of the power of the State Council power in favor of the power of the president. In this connection, Article 63 listed only five permanent powers for the State Council, as opposed to eleven in the 1965 Constitution. Among the powers that were deleted were appointing and recalling the supreme commander of the armed forces; representing the republic in international relations; granting citizenship, amnesty, and asylum; and appointing and recalling diplomatic representatives.
Other permanent powers of the State Council were establishing election dates; ratifying or rejecting international treaties (except for those whose ratification or rejection was within the purview of the GNA); and establishing decorations and honorary titles. The provision in the 1965 text of the Constitution giving the State Council the right to appoint and recall the heads of central bodies of state administration (excluding the Council of Ministers) was replaced with the nebulous stipulation that the State Council "organizes the ministries and other central state bodies," another limitation of its prerogatives.
GNA powers that devolved to the State Council between assembly sessions or when exceptional circumstances prevented the GNA from acting included the authority to appoint and recall members of the Council of Ministers and members of the Supreme Court. The right to appoint or recall the prosecutor general was omitted in the 1974 amended Constitution. The State Council could also assume powers to establish legal norms, to control the application of laws and decisions passed by the GNA, and to supervise the Council of Ministers, the ministries and the other central bodies of state administration as well as the activities of the people's councils. In the event of a national emergency, the State Council could also exercise the GNA's power to declare a state of war.
In December 1967, the GNA elected PCR General Secretary Ceausescu president of the State Council, thereby making him head of state. The rationale for concentrating party and government power in Ceausescu's hands was to provide unitary leadership and thereby improve efficiency and ensure full party control at the highest level of government. The decision to unite the two posts, as well as to combine a number of party and government positions on lower administrative levels, had been taken at a national party conference. Outside observers saw the move as one of a series of steps designed to ensure the continued subordination of both the party and the state apparatus to Ceausescu's personal power.
The 1974 amended Constitution created the office of president of the republic. Although listed below the GNA and the State Council, the president was the most powerful figure and had the authority to act on behalf of both the GNA and the State Council. Creation of the office was a watershed event in Ceausescu's methodical consolidation of power. Although he had held the position of head of state after 1967, it was only after 1974 that he emerged as an international figure, launching an energetic career of foreign travel and diplomacy.
The official motivation for the PCR decision to establish the office of president was to improve the functioning of the organs of state power--both domestic and international. It was also stressed that the president would be able to exercise those functions of the State Council not requiring plenary meetings. In fact, after 1974 rule by presidential decree became common practice.
On the recommendation of the Central Committee of the PCR and the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front, the president was elected by a two-thirds majority of GNA deputies. He represented the state in internal and international relations. And as chairman of the Defense Council, he was also the supreme commander of the armed forces. He was empowered to proclaim a local or national state of emergency.
Ceausescu greatly broadened the powers of the presidency in domestic political life. He appointed and recalled the ministers and the chairmen of other central bodies of state administration. When the GNA was not in session--that is, for most of the year--he appointed and recalled the president of the Supreme Court and the prosecutor general without even consulting the State Council. He frequently presided over the meetings of the Council of Ministers, and he usurped the State Council's power to grant pardons, citizenship, and asylum.
The president's prerogatives in international relations included establishing the ranks of diplomatic missions, accrediting and recalling diplomatic representatives; receiving the credentials and letters of recall of diplomatic representatives of other states; and concluding international agreements on behalf of Romania.
Defined in the Constitution as the supreme body of state administration, the Council of Ministers exercised control over the activities of all state agencies on both the national and local levels. Although the size and composition of the Council of Ministers fluctuated, its basic elements were the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the ministers, and the heads of certain other important government agencies. Unlike the 1952 constitution, which listed twenty-six specific ministries, the 1965 version fixed neither the number of ministries nor their particular areas of competence.
In 1989 the Council of Ministers had sixty-one members including the prime minister, three first deputy prime ministers, six deputy prime ministers, twenty-eight ministers, and twenty-four committee chiefs or state secretaries with ministerial rank. Elena Ceausescu held two positions in the council--first deputy prime minister and chairman of the National Council for Science and Technology. All but one of the members of the council were also members or candidate members of the PCR Central Committee, and the nine first deputies or deputies were members or candidate members of the PCR Political Executive Committee, usually known as Polexco.
The Constitution gave the Council of Ministers responsibility for the general implementation of the nation's domestic and foreign polices, the enforcement of laws, and the maintenance of public order. As the supreme governmental body, the council coordinated and controlled the activities of the ministries and other state organs at all levels. The council directed economic matters by drafting the Unitary National Socioeconomic Plan and state budget and providing for their implementation. In addition it directed the establishment of economic enterprises and other industrial and commercial organizations.
The council's responsibilities also included the general administration of relations with other states and the conclusion of international agreements. Its prerogatives in the area of defense, however, were diminished by the 1974 constitutional amendments. The council's right to act for the general organization of the armed forces was replaced by the provision that it could take measures in that area only "according to the decision of the Defense Council."
Formally elected by the GNA at the beginning of each new assembly session, the council's term of office continued until the election of a new council by the succeeding assembly. Both collectively and individually, the council members were responsible to the GNA or--between sessions--to the State Council. The Constitution asserted that the Council of Ministers was to operate on the principle of collective leadership to ensure the unity of its political and administrative actions.
After the promulgation of the 1965 Constitution and especially after Ceausescu was elected president of the republic in 1974, the Council of Ministers underwent numerous reorganizations. The number of ministries almost doubled. Several of them, for example, the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum, and Geology, were repeatedly split and merged. Some of the departments in separate ministries were combined to form new ministries or central organizations. In 1989 Romania had the largest number of ministries and central organizations of any East European state.
Agency reshuffling and the reassignment or dismissal of large numbers of officials plagued the ministries. Between March 1985 and the beginning of 1988, there were over twenty government reorganizations affecting such key functions as defense, finance, foreign trade, and foreign affairs. In 1984, at least twelve ministers were removed. The following year, the ministers of foreign affairs and national defense were replaced, and in 1986 the ministers of foreign affairs, foreign trade, and finance lost their positions following criticism from high-level PCR officials for trade shortfalls. In 1987, in the largest government reshuffle to date, eighteen ministers were dismissed over a four-week period, and some were expelled from the party.
The general organization and functioning of the judiciary was established by the Constitution and by the 1968 Law on the Organization of the Court System. Overall responsibility for the functioning of the courts was vested in the Ministry of Justice, and the prosecutor general was charged with the general application of the law and the conduct of criminal proceedings.
To fulfill its responsibility for the functioning of the courts and the supervision of state marshals, state notaries, and the national bar organization, the Ministry of Justice was divided into six directorates: civil courts, military courts, studies and legislation, personnel, administration, and planning and accounting. In addition, the ministry included a corps of inspectors, an office of legal affairs, and the State Notary Office.
The court system included the Supreme Court, judet courts, lower courts, military courts, and local judicial commissions. The Constitution placed the judiciary under the authority of the GNA, and between assembly sessions, under the authority of the State Council. The Supreme Court, seated in Bucharest, exercised general control over the judiciary activity of all lower courts.
Members of the Supreme Court were professional judges appointed by the GNA to four-year terms of office. The Supreme Court functioned as an appeals court for sentences passed in lower tribunals and, in certain matters specified by law, could act as a court of first instance. It could also issue guidance, in the form of directives, on legal and constitutional questions for the judicial actions of lower courts and the administrative functions of government agencies. The Supreme Court was divided into three sections--civil, criminal, and military. A panel of three judges presided over each section. The minister of justice presided over plenary sessions of the entire court held at least once every three months for the purpose of issuing guidance directives.
In 1989 there were forty judet courts and the municipal court of Bucharest, which had judet court status. Each court on this level was presided over by a panel of two judges and three lay jurors, known as people's assessors, and decisions were made by majority vote. People's assessors were first introduced in December 1947 and were given additional legal status in 1952 by the Law on the Organization of Justice. Most of the people's assessors were appointed by the PCR or by one of the district bodies of the mass organizations.
Subordinate to the judet courts were various lower courts. In the city of Bucharest, these lower courts consisted of four sectional courts, which functioned under the supervision of the municipal court. The number of lower courts and their territorial jurisdiction were established for the rest of the country by the Ministry of Justice. Panels consisting of a judge and two people's assessors presided over courts on this level, and verdicts were based on majority vote.
Military courts were established on a territorial basis, subdivisions being determined by the Council of Ministers. The lower military tribunals had original jurisdiction over contraventions of the law committed by members of the armed forces; the territorial military tribunals exercised appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the lower units. In certain situations specified by law, cases involving civilians could be assigned to military courts. At each level, the military courts, when acting in the first instance, consisted of two judges and three people's assessors. In appeals cases on the territorial level, the courts consisted of three judges only. As in the civil courts, decisions were reached by majority vote.
In 1968 the GNA enacted a law establishing a system of judicial commissions to function as courts of special jurisdiction in the state economic enterprises and in localities. These commissions were designed as "an expression of socialist democracy" to provide for the increased participation of working people in the settlement of problems involving minor local disputes and local economic issues.
The Office of the Prosecutor General ( Procuratura) exercised general supervision over the application of the law and the initiation of criminal proceedings. Elected by the GNA for a five-year term, the prosecutor general exercised supervisory powers that extended to all levels of society, from government ministers down to ordinary citizens. Procuratura subunits were hierarchically organized and included offices in each judicial district plus the prosecutor's military bureau.
Joint party-state organizations were an innovation in Romanian political life; the Constitution made no reference to them. Ceausescu used the organizations to increase his authority and minimize the possibility of government action that could challenge the power structure. At the beginning of 1989 there were nine joint party-state organizations. Five of them were headed by either Nicolae or Elena Ceausescu: the Defense Council; the Supreme Council for Economic and Social Development; the National Council for Science and Education; the National Council for Science and Technology; and the National Council of Working People. The remaining party-state organizations were the National Council for Agriculture, Food Industry, Forestry, and Water Management; the Central Council of Workers' Control of Economic and Social Activities; the Economic and Social Organization Council; and the Silviculture Council.
The names of these organizations themselves bespeak the ambiguity and redundancy of their powers. Alongside the existing ministries and other central organizations, three of the joint party-state organizations dealt with economic problems, two with science, two with agriculture and forestry, and two with social problems. The new structures were accountable to both the PCR Central Committee and the Council of Ministers or the State Council. The regional branches of some of the party-state councils were placed under the direct supervision of local party committees.
One of the most important joint party-state organizations and the first to be created (in 1969), the Defense Council had decision-making powers for high-level military affairs. At the inception of the Defense Council, its chairman, Ceausescu, automatically became supreme commander of the armed forces. After 1974 the president of the republic became ex officio chairman of the Defense Council. Some observers considered the creation of the council a move to weaken Ceausescu's opponents in the armed forces.
The membership of the Defense Council reflected its importance. Besides the chairman, other members were the prime minister, the minister of national defense, the minister of interior, the minister of foreign affairs, the chairman of the Department of State Security, the chairman of the State Planning Committee, the chief of staff--who held the position of ex officio secretary--and three other members. Among the members in the late 1980s was General Ilie Ceausescu, the president's brother, who was the chief of the Higher Political Council of the Army and the official historian of the regime.
The Supreme Council for Economic and Social Development, created to supervise development of the national economy and to coordinate social and economic planning, had fourteen sections, which paralleled both the existing ministries and State Planning Committee departments with similar areas of concern. Another joint party-state organization, the Central Council of Workers' Control of Economic and Social Activities had broad authority to make overall economic policy and to ensure plan fulfillment.
Local government bodies, known as people's councils, existed on the judet, town, and commune level. The 1965 Constitution had also provided for subunits of state administration on regional and district levels, but a territorial-administrative reorganization voted by the GNA in 1968 replaced the 16 regions and 150 intermediate districts with a system of 39 judete and 44 independent municipal administrations. Judet lines in the southeastern part of the country were subsequently redrawn, creating a fortieth judet; the municipality of Bucharest, which had judet status; and a surrounding agricultural district.
In addition to the establishment of judet and municipal people's councils, local councils were also set up in 142 smaller towns, and communal councils were formed in rural areas. A number of smaller communes were combined in order to give them a larger population base. Boundaries of each judet were drawn to include about fifty communes consisting of 4,000 to 5,000 persons each.
Along with the territorial reorganization, the decision was also made to combine party and government functions on the judet level so that the same person acted both as party committee first secretary and as people's council chairman. In explaining this fusion of party and state authority, Ceausescu stated that there were many instances in which offices in both the party and the government dealt with the same area of interest, a practice that resulted in inefficiency and unnecessary duplication of party and state machinery. Despite fusion of party and government functions, however, the bureaucratic structure on all government levels continued to expand.
According to the Constitution and the 1968 Law on the Organization and Operation of People's Councils, the people's councils were responsible for the implementation of central government decisions and for the economic, social, and cultural administration of their particular jurisdictions. Deputies to the people's councils were elected for five-year terms, except for the communes and municipal towns, where the term was two-and-one-half years.
Organized to facilitate highly centralized control, the people's councils functioned under the general supervision of the GNA or, between assembly sessions, under the direction of the State Council. The Law on the Organization and Operation of People's Councils specifically placed the people's councils under the overall guidance of the PCR.
Each people's council had an executive committee as its chief administrative organ and a number of permanent committees with specific responsibilities. The executive committee, consisting of a chairman, two or more deputy chairmen, and an unspecified number of other members, functioned for the duration of the council's term of office. Each executive committee also had a secretary, who was appointed with the approval of the next-higher-ranking council and was considered an employee of the central government. The chairman of an executive committee in a city, town, or commune served as the mayor of that unit. The executive committee was responsible to the people's council that elected it and to the executive committee of the next higher council.
The executive committee implemented laws, decrees, and decisions of the central government; carried out decisions made by the people's council; worked out the local budget; and drafted the local economic plan. It was also charged with directing and controlling the economic enterprises within its area of jurisdiction and with supervising the executive committees of inferior councils. The executive committee was also responsible for the organization and functioning of public services, educational institutions, medical programs, and the militia.
Although the Constitution asserted the right of all citizens eighteen years of age and older to participate in the election of all representative bodies with a universal, direct, equal, and secret vote, it did not determine how elections were to be organized or specify who was responsible for conducting them. The Constitution did declare, however, that the right to nominate candidates belonged to the PCR, as well as to all labor unions, cooperatives, youth and women's leagues, cultural associations, and other mass organizations.
Elections were organized under the direction of the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front, the national entity that incorporated the country's numerous mass organizations under the leadership of the PCR. All candidates for elective office needed the approval of the front in order to be placed on the ballot.
The Socialist Democracy and Unity Front was established in November 1968 under the original name of the Socialist Unity Front. It succeeded the People's Democratic Front, which had existed since the communists began to organize effectively during World War II. The Socialist Democracy and Unity Front listed among its member organizations, in addition to the PCR, the labor unions; cooperative farm organizations; consumer cooperatives; professional, scientific, and cultural associations; student, youth, women's, and veteran's organizations; religious bodies; and representatives of Hungarian, German, Serbian, and Ukrainian minorities. In the late 1980s, chairing the organization was among Ceausescu's many official duties. In addition to a chairperson, the front had an executive chairman, one first vice chairman and six other vice chairmen, two secretaries and eighteen members.
The Socialist Democracy and Unity Front conducted a general election in March 1985, when 369 deputies to the GNA were elected. Of the 15,733,060 registered voters, 97.8 percent voted for front candidates, while 2.3 percent voted against them--about 33 percent more than in 1980, according to published results. Although this figure was the highest number of dissenting votes ever recorded, outside observers contended that the percentage would have been much higher in an open election.
Founded in 1921, the Communist Party was declared illegal in 1924 and forced underground until 1944. Because of the party's association with Moscow, it was unable to attract broad support. The communists came to power as a result of the Soviet occupation of Romania during the final year of the war. With Soviet backing, the party gradually consolidated power and sought to extend its base of popular support. In early 1948, it merged with a wing of the Social Democratic Party to form the Romanian Workers' Party. By the end of 1952, however, almost all of the Social Democrats had been replaced by Communists.
At the close of World War II the Communist Party had fewer than 1,000 members. Three years later, at the official congress that sanctioned the merger with the Social Democratic Party, it reported more than 1 million members. This rapid growth was the outcome of an intensive propaganda campaign and membership drive that employed political and economic pressures. Subsequently, a purge of socalled hostile and nominal members during the early 1950s resulted in the expulsion of approximately 465,000 persons.
During the early years of full Communist control, the party considered itself the vanguard of the working class and made a sustained effort to recruit workers. By the end of 1950, the party reported that 64 percent of leading party positions and 40 percent of higher government posts were filled by members of the working class. Efforts to recruit workers into the party, however, consistently fell short of goals.
By 1965, when the name Romanian Communist Party was officially adopted, membership had reached 1,450,000--about 8 percent of the country's population. Membership composition at that time was 44 percent workers, 34 percent peasants, 10 per cent intelligentsia, and 12 percent other categories.
After his accession to power in 1965, Ceausescu sought to increase the party's influence, broaden the base of popular support, and bring in new members. His efforts to increase PCR membership were extremely effective. By February 1971, the party claimed 2.1 million members. The Twelfth Party Congress in 1979 estimated membership at 3 million, and by March 1988, the PCR had grown to some 3.7 million members--more than twice as many as in 1965, when Ceausescu came to power. Thus, in the late 1980s, some 23 percent of Romania's adult population and 33 percent of its working population belonged to the PCR.
At the Thirteenth Party Congress in November 1984, it was announced that the nationality composition of the PCR was 90 percent Romanian, 7 percent Hungarian (a drop of more than 2 percent since the Twelfth Party Congress), less than 1 percent German, and the remainder other nationalities.
As of 1988, workers made up about 55 percent of the party membership, peasants 15 percent, and intellectuals and other groups 30 percent. Because of the PCR's special effort to recruit members from industry, construction, and transportation, by late 1981 some 45.7 percent of workers in these sectors belonged to the party. In 1980 roughly 524,000 PCR members worked in agriculture. Figures on the educational level of the membership in 1980 indicated that 11 percent held college diplomas, 15 percent had diplomas from other institutions of higher learning, and 26 percent had received technical or professional training.
In the 1980s, statistics on the age composition of the party were no longer published. The official comment on the subject was that the party had a "proper" age composition. Outside observers, however, believed that the average age of the membership had risen dramatically. The share of pensioners and housewives increased from 6.6 percent in 1965 to 9 percent in 1988.
Women traditionally were underrepresented in the PCR. In late 1980, they accounted for only 28.7 percent of the party's members, prompting Ceausescu to call for increasing their representation to about 35 percent.
A document on the selection and training of party cadres adopted by a Central Committee plenum in April 1988 provided information on the backgrounds of individuals staffing the political apparatus. According to that document, workers, foremen, and technicians supplied 79.8 percent of the cadres of the PCR apparatus, 80.1 percent of the apparatus of the Union of Communist Youth (Uniunea Tineretului Comunist, UTC), and 88.7 percent of the trade union apparatus. By late 1987, the proportion of women in the party apparatus had risen to 27.8 percent from only 16.8 percent in 1983. More than 67 percent of activists in the state apparatus and 59.4 percent in the trade unions were under forty-five years of age. The document also asserted that 95.7 percent of PCR Central Committee activists and 90.7 percent of activists in judet, municipal, and town party committees were graduates of, or were attending, state institutions of higher education.
As the fundamental document of the PCR, the party statutes set basic policy on party organization, operation, and membership. Originally adopted in May 1948, the statutes underwent several modifications, with significant revisions in 1955, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1974, and 1984. Many of these changes strengthened Ceausescu's hold on the party and reduced the role of rank-and- file members.
All organs of the party were closely interrelated and operated on the principle of democratic centralism. (Derived from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, this concept required a firm hierarchical subordination of each party organ to the next higher unit. In practice, party programs and policies were directed from the center and decisions of higher organs were unconditionally binding on all lower organs and on individual members.) The statutes called for the free and open discussion of policy questions at congresses, conferences, and local membership meetings. But discipline required that once a decision was made, the minority fully submitted to the will of the majority.
According to the party statutes, the supreme organ of the PCR was the party congress, consisting of delegates elected by the judet conferences at a ratio of 1 delegate per 1,000 members. The party congress, which convened at least once every five years, elected the PCR general secretary, the Central Committee, and the Central Auditing Commission and discussed and adopted programs and policies proposed by central party organs.
Between congresses the leading party organ was the Central Committee. At the Thirteenth Party Congress in 1984, the Central Committee consisted of 265 full and 181 candidate members--twice as many members as in 1969. The Central Committee was responsible for the overall direction of party activities and the implementation of policies established by the party congress. In addition, it screened nominations for the more important party and state positions. Party statutes required a plenary session of the Central Committee at least four times a year.
Several important changes in the structure of the party leadership were enacted by the Central Committee in March 1974, a few months before the Eleventh Party Congress. The Standing Presidium of the Central Committee, whose members were the most influential individuals in the party, was abolished and replaced by the Political Executive Committee ( Polexco) Permanent Bureau. Although formally the Central Committee elected the leading party organs, in practice the Polexco Permanent Bureau was a selfperpetuating body, and any change in its membership or in that of the Secretariat was generated from within rather than through a democratic decision by the Central Committee. The Secretariat, most of whose members were full or candidate members of the Polexco, had responsibility for overseeing the implementation of party decisions. As general secretary of the party, Ceausescu headed both the Polexco Permanent Bureau and the Secretariat and chaired the Polexco.
The Central Committee was backed by an extensive bureaucratic structure that in many instances paralleled the organization of the government ministries. A chancellery office, headed by a chief and three deputies, coordinated the committee's overall administrative activities. Party work was organized under several permanent sections, which were typically headed by a supervisory secretary, and a number of administrative sections and functional commissions. The designations of the sections were agriculture, armed forces and security forces, cadre, culture and education, economic affairs, foreign relations, letters and audiences, local economic administration, organization, party affairs, propaganda and media, social problems, and administration.
In 1989 the following commissions were directly tied to the Central Committee: the Party and State Cadres Commission; the Ideology, Political and Cultural Activities, and Social Education Commission; the Party Organization and Mass and Public Organization Commission; and the Economic Cooperation and International Relations Commission. Most of these commissions appeared redundant, addressing problems within the purview of the Central Committee sections, various joint party-state organizations, and the ministries.
As the center for decision-making and policy control, the Polexco Permanent Bureau was the most powerful body in the country. Established in 1974, the Permanent Bureau went through several stages. Initially it consisted of five members, but after the Twelfth Party Congress in 1979, it expanded to fifteen members. In 1984, however, it was reduced to eight members, including Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, and in June 1988 it had only seven members. Most observers agreed that in fact the decision-making process was limited to the Ceausescus and their most trusted allies, not all of whom held positions in the Permanent Bureau, the Polexco, or the Secretariat.
Little information was available on the responsibilities of the Polexco, although some observers regarded it as an administrative link between the Permanent Bureau and the Central Committee. In practice, it functioned as a rump Central Committee when the latter was not in session. The Secretariat served as the continuing administrative unit of the party. It supervised the execution of policies decreed by the Permanent Bureau.
Two other important party organs functioned under the supervision of the Permanent Bureau and the Secretariat: the Central Auditing Commission and the Central Collegium, formerly known as the Party Control Commission. Consisting of seventy-three members (none of whom could belong to the Central Committee), the Central Auditing Commission was empowered to exercise general control over party financial affairs and examine the management of finances by the various party organs. During the 1980s, the commission literally became a place of exile for officials who had fallen out of favor. The twenty-two-member Central Collegium dealt with matters of party discipline and served as a type of appeals court for penalties imposed on members by judet or local party committees.
An interlocking of authority and functions at the highest level of the party and state was evidenced in the frequency with which the senior party officials also held important government posts. In the late 1980s, all the members of the Polexco Permanent Bureau, the Polexco, and the Secretariat were GNA deputies, and most of them held prominent positions in the State Council, the Defense Council, or the Council of Ministers.
The party statutes described the basic party organization as the foundation of the party. Basic party organizations existed in factories, offices, cooperatives, military and police units, social and cultural organizations, and residential areas. Some of the party units consisted of a few members, whereas those in the larger enterprises could have as many as 300 members. In 1980 there were an estimated 64,200 basic party organizations.
The local and occupational basic party organizations implemented party directives and programs, recruited and indoctrinated new members, and disseminated propaganda directed at those outside the party. Members had the duty to participate in social, economic, and cultural activities, particularly those associated with economic enterprises, and to examine critically production and community life in the light of party ideology and goals. In all their activities, the local party units were required to uphold the discipline of the party and to adhere to the policies established by the ruling bodies of the PCR.
Between the basic party organizations and the higher organs of the PCR stood a hierarchy of party committees organized on the judet, town, and communal levels. Each of these units was directly subordinate to the next higher level of the party organization. Each party committee set up its own bureau and elected a secretariat. In most cases the secretariat consisted of a first secretary, a first vice-chairman, and three or more vicechairmen or secretaries.
The activity of the bureau was conducted through several functional departments, which generally consisted of sections on personnel, administration, agitation and propaganda, economic enterprises, youth, and women's affairs. The judet and city committee also had their own control commission and training programs. The first secretary of the judet committee served as chairman of the judet people's council, linking the party and government offices.
At each of these levels--judet, city, town, and commune--the highest authoritative organ was the party conference, which played a role similar to that of the party congress on the national level. The party statutes called for the convening of conferences every five years in the judete, in the city of Bucharest, and in the larger towns. In communes and smaller towns the conference was held every two years. Although the conferences were held ostensibly to discuss problems and formulate policies, they served in practice as transmission belts for the official party line set down by the central PCR authorities. Judet conferences and the Bucharest city conference elected candidates to the national party Congress.
In the early 1970s, the PCR carried on a campaign to strengthen the Marxist character of its ideological, cultural, and educational activities. Within limits Ceausescu encouraged "socialist democracy" and open communication between the masses and the party leadership. He defined "socialist democracy" as a spirit of social responsibility among the citizens to perform their duties in accordance with the needs and imperatives of society as a whole. Socialist democracy sought to stimulate the masses to support the cause of socialism by involving them in PCR programs so that the individual citizen's goals and values coincided with those of the party.
In the mid-1970s, Ceausescu announced a new ideological program and the tightening of party control over government, science, and cultural life. Some observers regarded this campaign as a response to Soviet criticism of Ceausescu's foreign policy. It may have been a reminder to Moscow that socialism was not endangered in Romania and that the Soviets could not use this pretext to justify intervention as they had done in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Others considered it an assertion of authority by Ceausescu to combat domestic ideological laxity and what he perceived as corrupting Western influences. Partially directed at the youth of the nation, the campaign included curbs on alcohol in the youth clubs and on the screening of foreign television programs and music.
Another objective was increased party control over literature and cultural life. New ideological guidelines were issued for writers, publishers, and theaters. Ceausescu declared that the arts must serve the single purpose of socialist-communist education. At the same time, he called for increasing guidance of the arts by all levels of the PCR and requested that works of art and literature be judged for their conformity to party standards and their service to the working class. Although Ceausescu ruled out repressive measures, he asserted that the party would rely on persuasion to implement the new ideological program.
In the late 1980s, the PCR ideological program consisted of two major components--the political and ideological education of the citizenry and the scientific study of Romanian history. The former entailed the thorough study of PCR experience, Ceausescu's theses and recommendations, and the classics of Marxism-Leninism. The scientific study of Romania's history was considered profoundly important in developing the population's awareness of their DacianRoman origin and the continuity of Romanian habitation of their homeland, particularly in the face of historical claims made by neighboring countries.
During the 1980s, the party's perception of its role in society changed. It no longer saw itself as the detached vanguard of the working class, but rather as the vital center of the nation and society. The party's identification with national interests was interpreted as rejection of the concept of "dictatorship of the proletariat," a phrase that was supplanted in party parlance by "state of the revolutionary workers' democracy." The policies pursued by the PCR were designed to maintain firm control of economic planning and administration. Party control was enhanced by the territorial and administrative reorganization of 1968, which set up commissions in all of the new judete to function under the direct supervision of the judet PCR committees. These commissions gave the party direct control over local economic programs.
In early 1970, the PCR carried out a major reorganization of its primary institution for the training of leading party workers, the Stefan Gheorghiu Party Academy, which was renamed the Stefan Gheorghiu Academy for Social-Political Education and the Training of Leading Cadres. The academy's mission was to train party activists and develop party leaders who could resolve problems by "applying the science of political leadership to the party and society." In September 1986, the academy was renamed the Party Academy for Social and Political Training, but its structure was not changed.
In 1989 the academy still consisted of two departments, one for the training of cadres in the party and mass organizations and a second for the training of personnel working in economic and state administration. Each department was subdivided into a number of institutes, sections, and training centers.
Admission to academy programs was carefully controlled by the party. Courses in the first department lasted four years, and candidates were selected from among activists in the judet and city party committees, central PCR bodies, and mass organizations. Political activists in the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Interior, and the Department of State Security were also eligible for training in the first department.
The PCR also maintained the Institute of Historical and SocialPolitical Studies in Bucharest, which functioned under the direct supervision of the Central Committee, and lower-level training programs that operated under the judet party committees.
In 1988 the PCR Central Committee adopted a document setting forth policy on cadre political and ideological training. The document demanded that party and state bodies work with greater determination to accomplish the political, ideological, and revolutionary education of cadres. The Central Committee also adopted a draft program for improving cadre training in the party apparatus, the ministries, and industrial enterprises. It called for special programs to send party workers without access to political schools to university courses for political and managerial training.
The study programs, which included practical work, discussion of specific problems, and field trips, covered such subjects as automated data processing, socioeconomic analysis, forecasting, and many specialized topics. To facilitate training of large numbers, branches of the Party Academy's Center for the Education and Training of Party and Mass Organization Cadres were set up in Bucharest and in three judete.
The PCR fostered the development of a large number of mass organizations that functioned as its auxiliaries. These included traditional mass organizations (youth, labor, and women's organizations) and new types of political mass organizations such as the National Council of Working People. Mass organizations representing major ethnic groups also emerged.
Citizens were constitutionally guaranteed the right to join together in organizations. At the same time, the Constitution defined the leading role of the party in relation to the mass organizations, asserting that through such organizations the PCR "achieves an organized link with the working class, the peasantry, the intelligentsia, and other categories of working people and mobilizes them in the struggle for the completion of the building of socialism."
There were two broad classes of mass organizations: those based on common interests and categories of persons, such as youth and women's associations; and those based on professions, such as the General Union of Trade Unions (Uniunea Generala (Generala) a Sindicatelor din România, UGSR). Several of the groups belonged to international organizations and associations, such as the World Federation of Trade Unions and the World Federation of Democratic Youth.
In November 1968, the Council of Working People of Hungarian Nationality and the Council of Working People of German Nationality were established. The former had units in fifteen judete, and the latter was active in nine. In judete with substantial Serbian or Ukrainian populations, local councils were established for these groups. The nationality councils were affiliated with the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front.
The purpose of the nationality councils, Ceausescu declared, was to "cultivate socialist patriotism, socialist internationalism, and devotion to our new order and to the common fatherland . . . against any backward nationalistic concepts and manifestations." Although the councils facilitated communication between the PCR and ethnic groups, they functioned primarily as transmitters of official nationality policies. During the 1980s, the councils served as a forum for expressing Romanian nationalism in the prolonged dispute with neighboring Hungary on the question of minority rights in Transylvania.
Founded in 1949, the Union of Communist Youth (Uniunea Tineretului Comunist-- UTC) was modelled after Komsomol (the Soviet communist youth organization). Having essentially the same organizational structure as the PCR, the UTC was both a youth political party and a mass organization. Its mission was to educate young people in the spirit of communism and mobilize them, under the guidance of the PCR, for the building of socialism. The UTC organized political and patriotic courses in schools, among peasant groups, and among workers and members of the armed forces. It also guided and supervised the activities of the Union of Communist Student Associations.
In the 1980s, the UTC remained one of the most powerful mass organizations in the country, having a membership of some 3.7 million in 1984 compared with 2.5 million in early 1972. Membership was open to persons between the ages of fifteen and twenty-six; UTC members over eighteen could also become members of the PCR. The Tenth Party Congress in 1969 introduced the requirement that applicants under the age of twenty-six would be accepted into the party only if they were UTC members.
The structure of the UTC underwent a number of changes in the decades following its creation. In early 1984, the organization functioned on the national level with an eight-member Secretariat, including the first secretary, who was also the UTC chairman, and a bureau of twenty-one full and ten candidate members. The first secretary of the UTC also held the position of minister of youth. In the late 1980s, Ceausescu's son, Nicu, functioned as UTC first secretary. In each of the forty judete and the city of Bucharest, UTC committees were patterned after the national-level organization. The UTC had its own publishing facilities and published its own propaganda organ, Scinteia Tineretului (The Spark of Youth).
A second youth movement, the Pioneers, was created for young people between the ages of nine and fourteen. The organization's responsibilities paralleled those of the UTC and involved political and patriotic training. Until 1966 the Pioneers functioned as an integral part of the UTC, but thereafter it was under the direct control of the party Central Committee.
As the official organization representing all blue- and whitecollar workers, the General Union of Trade Unions of Romamian (Uniunea Generala Sindicatelor din România-- UGSR) was the largest of the country's mass organizations, with a membership of 7.3 million in 1985. Headed by a Central Council, the UGSR consisted of eleven labor union federations and forty-one area councils, one for each judet and the city of Bucharest. The Central Council had a chairman, appointed by the PCR Central Committee, eight vice chairmen, two secretaries, and an executive committee of forty-eight members. In the late 1980s, there were an estimated 12,000 local union units.
The primary function of the labor unions was the transmission of party policies to the rank and file. The UGSR statutes specified that the organization would conduct its activities under the political leadership of the PCR; a similar provision was included in the statutes of the judet UGSR committees. In early 1971, in the aftermath of increased labor problems, the PCR took steps to reform the labor union organization. Proclaiming a democratization of the UGSR and its component unions, Ceausescu promised workers protection of their interests and a voice in the appointment of industrial management. According to Ceausescu, democratization meant that the labor unions would serve the party as a framework for organizing consultations with the masses and as a forum where workers could debate the country's economic and social development. But UGSR statutes introduced later that year failed to reform the system, and labor unions were still unable to take the initiative in matters of wages and the standard of living.
After becoming PCR first secretary in March 1965, Ceausescu's first challenge was consolidating his power. Posing a major threat to his authority were three of his predecessor's closest associates--Chivu Stoica, a veteran party leader; Gheorghe Apostol, first deputy prime minister and a former PCR first secretary; and Alexandru Draghici, minister of interior and head of the powerful state security apparatus.
A temporary compromise was found in a system of collective leadership with Ceausescu acting as head of the party and Stoica becoming president of the State Council and, as such, head of state. Apostol remained first deputy minister, and Draghici kept the position of minister of interior. Ion Gheorghe Maurer, who had served as prime minister under Gheorghiu-Dej, retained that position. At the same time, changes were made in the party statutes to prevent one man from holding dual party and government offices as Gheorghiu-Dej had done.
At the Ninth Party Congress in July 1965, Ceausescu was able to add a number of supporters to an enlarged PCR Central Committee and to change his title to general secretary. At the same time a new body was added to the party hierarchy--the Executive Committee, which stood between the Standing Presidium and the Central Committee. Although Ceausescu was not able to gain full control of the Executive Committee immediately, in time the new body provided him the means to place his supporters in the leading PCR organs and to implement his own policies.
Political observers identified three principal factions within the PCR during the 1965-67 period: Ceausescu and his supporters; the veteran party men led by Stoica, Apostol, and Draghici; and the intellectuals, represented by Maurer. Those people allied with Ceausescu, who was forty-seven years old when he came to power, tended to be men of his own generation and outlook, and whenever possible he engineered their appointment or promotion into important party, government, and military positions.
One of Ceausescu's foremost concerns was what he termed the vitalization of the PCR. To achieve this end, he not only brought younger people into the top party organs but also sought, for a limited time, to broaden the professional skills represented in those bodies through the recruitment of technicians and academicians. At the same time, he allowed increased technical and scientific contacts with Western nations and lifted the ban on works by certain foreign writers and artists, thereby gaining support among intellectuals.
At a special National Conference of the PCR in December 1967-- the first such event in twenty-two years--Ceausescu continued to strengthen his position. Attending the conference were members of the Central Committee and 1,150 delegates from local party organizations. Ceausescu elected to employ the technique of the party conference rather than a special party congress in order to have his proposals approved by a larger body than the Central Committee. At the same time, he wanted to avoid election of a new Central Committee, which a party congress would have required.
Ceausescu proposed a number of reforms in the structure and functioning of the party and government, and he asserted the need to eliminate duplication. He proposed that the Central Committee limit itself to basic decisions of economic policy and that specific matters of implementation be left to the ministries.
Political and ideological activity, Ceausescu proposed, would remain under the control of the Central Committee and would be given greater emphasis and direction through the creation of an ideological commission that would develop an intensified program of political education. A defense council, composed of the party's Standing Presidium and other members, would be established to deal with most military questions, but basic guidance for both the armed forces and the state security apparatus would remain the responsibility of the Central Committee. Major foreign policy questions would be decided by the Standing Presidium.
Ceausescu proposed several reforms in the organization and responsibilities of government organs and called for redrawing the country's administrative subdivisions. He sought to broaden the activities of the GNA and its commissions, and he recommended a larger role for the Council of Ministers in formulating long-term economic plans. In addition, he suggested that the heads of three important mass organizations--the UGSR, the UTC, and the National Union of Agricultural Production Cooperatives--be included in the government and be given ministerial ranking.
The National Conference unanimously adopted Ceausescu's proposals and reversed the party statutes adopted in 1965 that prevented the party leader from simultaneously holding the position of head of state. The official rationale for uniting the highest offices of the party and state was to eliminate duplication of functions and increase efficiency. Stoica was given a position in the party Secretariat and later, in 1969, was named chairman of the Central Auditing Commission.
In implementing Ceausescu's recommendations, certain positions in the party and state organizations were fused. For example, judet and city party first secretaries became chairmen of the corresponding people's councils, and secretaries of local party units and labor union representatives became involved in the councils of industrial enterprises.
Immediately following the National Conference, the GNA convened to elect Ceausescu president of the State Council. Apostol was demoted from his position as a first deputy prime minister to his previously held post of UGSR chairman. Draghici was removed from the party Secretariat and given a position as a deputy prime minister under Maurer, who was reappointed prime minister. With the successful demotion of his chief rivals, Ceausescu emerged at the close of 1967 as the undisputed leader of both the party and the state.
With his power base firmly established, Ceausescu proceeded to dissociate his regime from the Gheorghiu-Dej era. In April 1968, at a plenary session of the Central Committee, the Gheorghiu-Dej regime was indicted for abuses of power, and the victims of his political purges were officially rehabilitated. Because of his close association with Gheorghiu-Dej and his position as head of the interior ministry during the period of the purges Draghici was relieved of all his positions. Apostol and Stoica were censured but were allowed to remain in their posts, although their standing in the party was considerably weakened.
During the 1968-70 period, Ceausescu pursued a cautious policy of de-Stalinization in domestic affairs while maintaining Romania's independent stance in international relations. The domestic relaxation was short-lived, however, and in April 1968, Ceausescu cautioned intellectuals and artists not to overstep the bounds established by the party.
The Tenth Party Congress of August 1969 reelected Ceausescu PCR general secretary, enlarged the Central Committee from 121 to 165 members, purged some of Ceausescu's potential opponents, and further revised the party statutes. The statute revisions provided for electing the Central Committee by secret ballot and transferred responsibility for electing the general secretary from the Central Committee to the party congress. It was also decided that the party congress would be convened every five--rather than four--years so that it could discuss and adopt a five-year economic plan for the country.
Nearly half of the older members of the Central Committee were replaced by younger men who supported Ceausescu. Two members of the old guard, Apostol and Stoica, were conspicuously not reelected, and immediately after the congress, Apostol lost his position as UGSR chairman after being charged with "serious breaches of Communist morality."
The Eleventh Party Congress in November 1974 adopted the party program (a massive document establishing the framework for party activity for the following quarter century), the directives for the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1976-80), and the guidelines for the economy from 1974 through 1990. The congress failed, however, to complete all the items on its agenda, leaving such unfinished business as party statute revisions to the Central Committee for finalization.
The report of the Central Committee surveyed the party's achievements, examined "the problems of international political life" and cooperation with other countries, and defined the national goal as the building of a "multilaterally developed socialist society." The foreign policy objectives set forth in the report included the establishment of a "new world order," disarmament, and a "new type of unity" in the international communist movement.
The draft directives of the 1976-80 plan projected continued rapid development of "the technical and material basis of the national economy, and of the whole of society." The directives earmarked some one-third of the gross national product for investment, the highest rate in the communist world, and predicted an annual rate of industrial growth of between 9 and 10 percent for the period up to 1990.
The congress considered a proposal to appoint Ceausescu PCR general secretary for life. Ceausescu rejected the proposal in a brief speech, possibly because of the objections of Western communist delegates in attendance and the potential damage the appointment would cause to his international image.
The congress elected a new Central Committee, which was expanded to 205 members and 156 alternate members, and removed 43 members elected at the Tenth Congress, including former Prime Minister Maurer. Numerous party and government officials were assigned new positions. The Central Committee elected a twentyeight -member Polexco, which selected the membership of the Permanent Bureau (created in March to replace the Presidium). Far from the broadly based committee initially projected, the Permanent Bureau comprised only Ceausescu and a handful of persons who owed their rise entirely to him. Thus Ceausescu's personal rule was further strengthened and institutionalized.
The Twelfth Party Congress in November 1979 was attended by 2,656 delegates representing approximately 3 million party members and by delegations from 98 countries. None of the more senior officials from the other East European and Soviet parties was present. Ceausescu presented a lengthy report detailing the economic shortcomings and mistakes of the previous five years, particularly those in the agricultural sector. He stressed the necessity for greater efficiency and for additional austerity measures, especially energy conservation. Announcing that offshore oil had been found in the Black Sea, Ceausescu proclaimed the goal of energy self-sufficiency within ten years.
On internal party matters, Ceausescu stressed the need for greater discipline and pointed out shortcomings in ideological, political, and cultural activities. To detect potential adversaries, party members' records were to be examined by the Party and State Cadres Commission, headed by Elena Ceausescu.
The Twelfth Congress witnessed an unprecedented attack on Ceausescu's personal leadership by a former high-ranking party official, Constantin Pirvulescu, who openly opposed Ceausescu's reelection as general secretary, accusing him of putting personal and family interests above those of the party and the country. He accused the congress of neglecting the country's real problems in its preoccupation with Ceausescu's glorification. Observers noted that this unprecedented attack came from a man who could not be accused of pro-Soviet sentiments, because he had been a staunch defender of PCR autonomy. Nor could he, at the age of eighty-four, be accused of personal ambition. Pirvulescu's remarks were, according to press reports, evidence of discontent in the party ranks. Pirvulescu was stripped of his delegate credentials, expelled from the congress, and placed under strict surveillance and house arrest.
The congress elected a new Central Committee of 408 members, including 163 alternate members, and a Polexco of 27 full and 18 alternate members. The Polexco Permanent Bureau was expanded from eleven to fifteen members. This steady growth reflected Ceausescu's desire to make the body an institutional gathering of the most powerful people in the government and party.
At the Thirteenth Party Congress of November 1984, Ceausescu's address was devoted mostly to the economy. The report made clear that there would be no substantial effort to increase the standard of living and that forced industrialization would continue unabated. It revealed that the industrial growth rate during the first four years of the decade had been much lower than was projected by the eleventh and twelfth congresses. The report did not mention food shortages and rationing. Ignoring the fact that electricity and fuel supplies to the general population had been cut drastically, Ceausescu blithely predicted that by 1995, Romania would be energy self-sufficient.
A major part of the report was devoted to the question of political-educational activity and the "fashioning of a new man" in order to "elevate the socialist revolutionary awareness of all working people." Observers pointed out that the report featured Ceausescu's Stalinist ideological orthodoxy more prominently than ever before. He called for intensified study of Marxist philosophical writings and urged the party to fight "mysticism" and "obscurantism" (euphemisms for religion), as well as "obsolete" and "foreign" ideological influences.
The congress elected a new Central Committee of 446 members, who in turn selected a commission to propose the composition of a new PCR Polexco of 23 full members and 25 alternate members. Among the new alternate members were Ceausescu's son Nicu, whose political ambitions were undisguised, and Tudor Postelnicu, one of Ceausescu's most trusted security men after the defection of Ion Pacepa in 1978. The size of the Permanent Bureau was reduced to eight members, only five of whom remained from the 1979 Permanent Bureau. All personnel changes after the Thirteenth Congress were designed to increase Ceausescu's power base.
The distinctive feature of Romania's political power structure in the 1980s was the cult of personality surrounding Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. Some observers argued that the phenomenon was the continuation of Romania's historical legacy. Others held that it was Ceausescu's unique political creation.
Following Ceausescu's rise to power in 1965, Romanians had enjoyed a short-lived liberalization, as the new leader sought to achieve genuine popularity. By 1971, however, the regime had reasserted its Stalinist legacy in socioeconomic and cultural matters. Thereafter ideological orthodoxy retained a tight hold on all intellectual life, and meaningful reforms failed to materialize. After assuming the newly established position of president of the republic, Ceausescu was increasingly portrayed by the Romanian media as a creative communist theoretician and political leader whose "thought" was the source of all national accomplishments. His tenure as president was known as the "golden era of Ceausescu." The media embellished all references to him with such fomulaic appellations as "guarantor of the nation's progress and independence" and "visionary architect of the nation's future." In 1989, Ceausescu functioned as the head of state, the PCR, and the armed forces; chairman of the Supreme Council for Economic and Social Development, president of the National Council of Working People, and chairman of the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front.
In the 1980s, the personality cult was extended to other members of the Ceausescu family. Ceausescu's wife, Elena, held a position of prominence in political life far exceeding protocol requirements. As first deputy prime minister, she took part in official negotiations with foreign governments and communist parties. She chaired both the National Council on Science and Technology and the National Council for Science and Education. Her most influential position, however, was that of chief of the Party and State Cadres Commission, which enabled her to effect organizational and personnel changes in the party apparatus and the government. By the mid-1980s, Elena Ceausescu's national prominence had grown to the point that her birthday was celebrated as a national holiday, as was her husband's. With allies throughout the Central Committee and the powerful secret police, Elena Ceausescu had emerged as one of the foremost contenders to succeed her husband, who in 1989 was reported to be in failing health. Their son, Nicu, was a candidate member of the Polexco, and two of Ceausescu's brothers held key positions in the army and the secret police. In 1989, some twenty-seven of Ceausescu's close relatives held top party and state positions.
Postwar Romania had less labor unrest and fewer overt acts of antigovernment defiance than any other East European country. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Gheorghiu-Dej regime feared the unrest might spill over into Romania. But even though there was student unrest and tension among the Hungarian population of Transylvania, the regime was not seriously threatened. The gradual deterioration of the economy as well as poor and dangerous working conditions led to significant unrest during the late 1970s, however. In 1977 a prolonged strike by coal miners in the Jiu Valley climaxed in the miners holding the prime minister captive in a mine shaft for two days. As a result of this incident, the Securitate still maintained constant surveillance over the region more than a decade later. Despite further deterioration of the economy, the severe food shortages, and energy and fuel restrictions during the 1980s, only limited signs of unrest were observed, thanks to the strict surveillance and repressive measures of the internal security forces. But in November 1987, a massive protest occurred in the city of Brasov. Some 30,000 workers staged a violent protest against harsh living conditions and the prospect of another winter of food and energy shortages. The spontaneous demonstration began at a tractor and truck plant and spread into the streets. Joined by onlookers, the workers chanting anti-Ceausescu slogans marched on the city hall and ransacked the mayor's office. The protest was broken up by militia and the Securitate, and a number of workers were arrested. Though it was crushed, the Brasov protest represented a rallying point for the possible emergence of an organized opposition.
In March 1989, a letter addressed to Ceausescu criticizing his dictatorial policy reached the West. Written by a group of retired senior communist officials, it accused Ceausescu of violating international human rights agreements, including the 1975 Helsinki Final Act (Helsinki Accords); ignoring the constitutional rights of citizens; mismanaging the economy; and alienating Romania's allies. The signatories called for a halt to the systematization program of destroying rural villages and forcibly relocating peasant families. The letter was signed by former General Secretary Gheorghe Apostol; former Politburo member and Deputy Prime Minister Alexandru Birladeanu; Constantin Pirvulescu, a co-founder of the PCR; Corneliu Manescu, a former Romanian foreign minister and onetime president of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly; and Grigore Raceanu, a veteran party member. Many analysts considered the letter the most serious challenge to Ceausescu's rule to date. The regime relocated and isolated all signatories and reportedly subjected them to other repressive measures. The United States expressed official concern for their safety, and several other Western governments subsequently limited their relations with Romania.
In the late 1980s, the media continued to serve as propaganda, indoctrination, and disinformation tools to develop support for the regime's domestic and foreign policies and to consolidate Ceausescu's personal power. The system of media control was highly centralized and involved an interlocking group of party and state organizations, supervising bodies, and operating agencies, whose authority extended to all radio and television facilities, film studios, printing establishments, newspapers, and book publishers and to the single news agency. The control apparatus also regulated public access to foreign publications, films, newscasts, books, and radio and television programs.
The 1965 Constitution promised freedom of information, but expressed the reservation that it "cannot be used for aims hostile to the socialist system and to the interests of the working people." In 1971, following a trip to China, Ceausescu reinforced PCR authority over the highest information-control and policy- making bodies in the government. The former State Committee for Culture and Art, which was an element of the Council of Ministers, was reconstituted as the Council for Socialist Culture and Education and answered directly to the Central Committee of the PCR. Similar changes were made in the Committee of Radio and Television, which became the Council of Romanian Radio and Television. In 1985 a joint party-state organization, the National Council for Science and Education, chaired by Elena Ceausescu, was created. Its responsibility was to ensure uniform policy implementation in science, technology, and education, and it provided the regime another mechanism with which to control educational activities.
The propaganda and media section of the Central Committee exercised general guidance and supervision of all publications and dissemination procedures. Its policies and directives, in turn, were implemented by such government-controlled agencies as the Romanian Press Agency and the individual publishing houses, printing establishments, book distribution centers, motion picture studios, and radio and television stations.
The UN's Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which collects statistics from all member states, reported that during the 1980s the number of Romanian daily and periodical publications dropped sharply. Whereas in 1969 Romania published fifty-one dailies, twenty-three weeklies, and two semi- weeklies, in 1985 there were only thirty-six dailies and twenty- four weeklies. Daily newspapers had a total annual circulation of more than 1.1 billion copies. Major mass organizations, government- sponsored groups, local government organs, and the PCR and its subsidiaries published the most important and influential newspapers, both in Bucharest and in the various judete. Little latitude was allowed either in the content or format of the news.
The most authoritative newspaper, Scînteia, was founded in 1931 as the official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and in the late 1980s had by far the largest daily circulation. It was the outlet for party policy pronouncements and semiofficial government positions on national and international issues. Until the early 1970s, Scînteia was published as an eight-page daily, but thereafter it was condensed to four pages with one six-page issue per week. Its editorials, feature sections, and chief articles were frequently reprinted or excerpted in the provincial newspapers, shop bulletins, and enterprise newsletters.
After Scînteia, the most important daily was România Libera, established by the Socialist Unity Front in 1942. Although the paper featured items of national and international interest, it concentrated on local issues. The only paper allowed to publish one-page advertisement sections, România Libera was in great demand. During the 1970s, the daily Munca, published by the UGSR, became a weekly publication. Scînteia Tineretului, which addressed the younger element of the population and stressed the ideological and political training of youth as the basis for a "sound socialist society," was another national daily. The most widely circulated minority-language newspapers were the Hungarian daily Elöre and the German daily Neuer Weg. Both publications generally repeated the news of the national newspapers but also featured items of minority interest. They promoted the official government position on such sensitive issues as Romanian-Hungarian tensions and served as mouthpieces for anti-Hungarian propaganda.
The number of periodicals also decreased in the 1970s and 1980s. Whereas in 1969 there were 581 Romanian periodicals, in 1985 there were only 422. All periodicals were considered official publications of the various sponsoring organizations and were subject to the same licensing and supervising controls as newspapers. Virtually all magazines and journals were published by mass organizations and party- or government-controlled entities, such as institutes, labor unions, cultural committees, and special interest groups. They covered a broad range of subjects and included technical and professional journals, among them magazines on literature, art, health, sports, medicine, statistics, politics, science, and economics.
Established in 1949, the Romanian Press Agency (Agentia Româna de Presa--Agerpres) operated as a department of the central government under the control of the PCR Central Committee. Agerpress had exclusive rights to the collection and distribution of all news, pictures, and other press items, both domestic and foreign. In the 1980s, Agerpress increasingly concerned itself with reporting official ceremonial (protocol) events and foreign news. For foreign dissemination, it issued the daily Agerpres News of the Day and the weekly Agerpres Information Bulletin. For domestic consumption, Agerpres distributed about 45,000 words of foreign news coverage daily to various newspapers and periodicals and to radio and television broadcasting stations. It also provided articles from Western wire services to government and party officials in classified bulletins. The Agerpres network of press correspondents in foreign countries was largely dismantled after several defections, and in 1989 Agerpres maintained only a few correspondents in the other East European countries.
After 1960, recognizing the importance of radio as a medium for informing the public and molding attitudes, the regime launched a large-scale effort to build broadcasting facilities and manufacture receiving sets. The number of radio receivers increased from 2 million in 1960 to 3.2 million in 1989. Receivers and amplifiers that reached group audiences in public areas were installed throughout the country.
In the 1980s, Romanian radio broadcast three programs on medium wave and FM. Until the mid-1980s, there were also six regional programs, with transmission in Hungarian, German, and Serbo- Croatian. Each week about 200 hours of broadcasts in thirteen languages were beamed to foreign countries by Radio Bucharest.
Since its inception in 1956, television broadcasting has been closely linked with radio as an increasingly important instrument of "propaganda and socialist education of the masses." Like radio, television operated under the supervision of the Council of Romanian Radio and Television, whose policy guidelines were received directly from the party apparatus. Television frequently came under close scrutiny and criticism by the Central Committee and by national congresses on "socialist education." At the June 1982 Central Committee plenum and again in 1984, Ceausescu denounced the "polluting" influence of Western propaganda and its impact on literary, theatrical, film, and artistic broadcasts and stated that radio and television should report current events from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.
In 1989 there were approximately 3.9 million television sets in Romania. Following the energy crisis of 1984, the two TV channels were merged and broadcasting was reduced from 100 to 22 hours per week. Programs in Hungarian and German were dropped. Because of these cutbacks and the greater ideological content of the broadcasts, the number of viewers actually declined, and some citizens resorted to building their own antennae to receive Bulgarian and Soviet programs.
Before World War II, Romania was one of the leading book- publishing nations in southeastern Europe. But after 1948, the new communist regime nationalized all publishing facilities and made the publishing industry a propaganda and indoctrination instrument. From 1955 to 1966 the number of titles gradually increased, reaching a plateau of about 9,000. In the following decades, however, book publishing declined dramatically, and in 1985 only 3,063 titles were published--about one-third as many as during the 1960s. Not only the number, but also the variety of books published during the 1970s and 1980s was reduced. By far the largest number of titles credited to a single author was attributed to Ceausescu, whose writings were published in Romanian and in foreign languages in large printings.
The Council for Socialist Culture and Education controlled all printing and publishing activities. It formulated policy guidelines for the publishing industry and used other government agencies, the various publishing houses, and book distribution centers to supervise and coordinate day-to-day operations. The council allocated paper, determined the number of books to be printed, and set the sale prices of publications. The number of publishing houses declined from about twenty-five in the early 1970s to eighteen in the late 1980s.
Film production, distribution, and exhibition also operated under the supervision of the Council for Socialist Culture and Education. There were two production studios--one in Bucharest that produced documentaries, newsreels, cartoons, and puppet films, and another in Buftea (near Bucharest) that made feature films.
Until the late 1960s, Romanian films reflected a strong French influence. Both the native and co-produced pictures of this period were of high quality, and several won awards at international film festivals. In later years, however, the regime repressed artistic expression in the film industry, and as a result, fewer and lower- quality films were made. In 1985 only twenty-six films were produced. Furthermore, according to UNESCO statistics, fewer foreign films were allowed into the country. Whereas in 1968 Romania imported 188 feature films, in 1984 the number declined to 72. Also noteworthy is that in 1968 approximately 40 percent of imported films came from the Soviet Union, while 60 percent were from the West, Czechoslovakia, and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), but in 1985 no films were imported from the West nor from any hard-currency country.
Foreign policy formulation, according to the Constitution, is the responsibility of the GNA, and its implementation is within the purview of the Council of Ministers. In reality the highest echelons of the PCR--in 1989 the Ceausescu circle, the Permanent Bureau, and the Polexco--formulated foreign policy. Party decisions were channeled through the Central Committee's Directorate for International Affairs to the GNA, which approved them automatically and without amendment. The State Council had the executive function of ratifying international treaties and establishing diplomatic relations with other states. As the head of state, the president of the republic represented Romania in international relations.
The Council of Ministers coordinated and implemented foreign policy through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Economic Cooperation. Because decision-making powers resided in the party leadership, however, the ministries functioned almost exclusively as administrative agencies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responsible for implementing party directives in diplomatic, educational, cultural, and scientific relations with other states and with international organizations. The Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Economic Cooperation functioned as the central organ for the country's international trade and economic activities.
In 1989 the organizational structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remained essentially the same as that established by the Constitution of 1965. The ministry had five geographical and eight functional directorates. Geographical directorates were set up for the socialist countries; Western Europe; Africa; Asia, Middle East, and Oceania; and the Americas. There were functional directorates for consular affairs; culture and press; diplomatic courier and cable service; finance and accounting; foreign economic relations and international organizations; organization, control, and personnel training; protocol; and supply and administration.
In 1989 the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Economic Cooperation consisted of nine geographical directorates and twelve functional directorates, two of which were merged in a separate department. The geographical directorates included Africa, Asia and Oceania, Latin America, Middle East, North America, members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), non-Comecon socialist countries, Soviet Union, and Western Europe. The functional directorates were economic, administrative, and secretariat; export-import I (authorizing exports and imports and monitoring the production of export commodities by the heavy equipment, machine-building, electrical engineering, metallurgical, extractive, and electric energy industries); export-import II (authorizing exports and imports and monitoring the production of export commodities by the chemical and petrochemical, woodprocessing , agriculture, food-processing, and light industries); finance and accounting; foreign contracts, agreements, and legal matters; foreign trade and international economic cooperation plan; hard currency; organization and control; personnel, education, and remuneration; and prices and effectiveness of foreign trade operations. In addition, there was the international economic cooperation department consisting of two directorates--export of complex installations, international bids, and technical assistance; and joint companies and coordination of international economic cooperation activity. Over the years the ministry was subjected to several reorganizations and restructurings.
In 1989 Romania maintained diplomatic relations with 125 countries (118 at the ambassadorial level) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Although most governments maintained embassies in Bucharest, some Western countries maintained only symbolic representation or conducted business from a neighboring country because of the shortage of food and the inadequate heating during the winter. Romania also had trade relations with certain states with which it had not established formal diplomatic ties.
In 1989 Romania continued to be a member of the UN and a number of UN specialized agencies. It was also a member, albeit an often reluctant one, of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, more commonly known as the Warsaw Pact, and Comecon.
Foreign Relations with ...
<>Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
<>Austria, Britain, France and Italy
After coming under communist control in 1948, Romania was closely aligned with the international policies and goals of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But after mid-1952, when Gheorghiu-Dej had gained full control of the party and had become head of state, Romania began a slow disengagement from Soviet domination, being careful not to incur the suspicions or disapproval of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The Gheorghiu-Dej regime strongly supported the Soviet suppression of the Revolution of 1956 in Hungary, hoping thereby to enhance prospects for the removal of Soviet occupation forces that had remained in Romania after the war. In fact Soviet forces were withdrawn in 1958, enabling Gheorghiu-Dej to take the first significant steps to diminish Soviet influence over Romanian foreign policy.
Gheorghiu-Dej rejected Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's plan to integrate the economies of the Comecon states and subordinate national economic plans to an overall planning body. Gheorghiu-Dej objected not only to the loss of economic autonomy but also to the subservient role Khrushchev envisioned for Romania -- supplier of raw materials and agricultural products for the more industrially developed members. Therefore he proceeded with his own plans for the country's industrial development, asserting the right of each Comecon state to develop its economy in accord with national needs and interests. To lessen dependence on Comecon, the regime gradually expanded economic relations with noncommunist states.
The conflict with the Soviet Union became more acute in 1962, when Gheorghiu-Dej again rejected the Comecon plan for Romania and announced the signing of a contract with a British-French consortium for the construction of a large steel mill at Galati. Romanian-Soviet relations continued to deteriorate as Gheorghiu-Dej exploited the Sino-Soviet dispute and supported the Chinese position on the equality of communist states and rejection of the Soviet party's leading role. In November 1963, Romania declared its readiness to mediate the Sino-Soviet dispute, a suggestion Moscow found arrogant and hostile.
A statement issued by the Central Committee in April 1964 declared the right of Romania and all other nations to develop national policies in the light of their own interests and domestic requirements. During the remainder of that year, the volume of economic and cultural contacts with Western nations increased significantly. Because of the increased tensions in Indochina that were developing into the Vietnam War, however, the regime curbed its efforts to improve relations with the United States.
Following the sudden death of Gheorghiu-Dej in March 1965, Ceausescu continued a foreign policy that frequently diverged from that of the Soviet Union and the other members of the Warsaw Pact. Ceausescu antagonized the Soviet Union by establishing diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in 1967 and by refusing to follow the Soviet lead in breaking relations with Israel in the wake of the June 1967 War.
The 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led forces was a turning point in Romanian relations with Comecon and the Warsaw Pact. Some observers maintain that Ceausescu's denunciation of the invasion marked the apogee of Romanian defiance of the Soviet Union. But Ceausescu was careful not to press the policy to the point of provoking military intervention. The regime interpreted as a clear warning the enunciation of the Brezhnev Doctrine--the concept articulated by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev that the protection of socialism in any communist state is the legitimate concern of all communist states.
After 1968 pressures mounted on Romania to cooperate more fully in the Warsaw Pact and to agree to a supranational planning body within the framework of Comecon. Nevertheless, the Ceausescu regime continued to resist the Soviet efforts toward economic integration. Several important events during the 1968-70 period strengthened Romania's international position, namely the visits of President Charles de Gaulle of France and President Richard M. Nixon of the United States and the long-delayed signing of a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union in July 1970.
As of mid-1989, Ceausescu had dealt with several Soviet leaders during his tenure as head of state--Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Relations were most strained during the Brezhnev era, which witnessed the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Nixon visit to Romania, Soviet accusations of a Romanian plot to organize a pro-Chinese bloc in the Balkans, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In 1976 Ceausescu received Brezhnev in Bucharest--the first official visit by a Soviet leader since 1955. The final communique of the meeting reflected continuing disagreements between the two countries, as Romania refused to side with the Soviets in their dispute with China. In 1978, after visiting China, Ceausescu attended a Warsaw Pact summit meeting in Moscow, where he rejected a Soviet proposal that member countries increase their military expenditures. On his return to Bucharest, Ceausescu explained the refusal by stating that any increase in military expenditure was contrary to the socialist countries' effort to reduce military tensions in Europe. Perhaps because of Ceausescu's uncooperative attitude, a 1980 Romanian attempt to secure supplies of energy and raw materials from the Soviet Union and other Comecon countries failed when those countries demanded world market prices and payment in hard currency. Nor would the Soviet Union guarantee that it would increase or even maintain existing levels of oil exports to Romania for the following year.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused Romania to distance itself further from Brezhnev. When the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops, Romania broke with its Warsaw Pact allies and abstained. And one month later, at a meeting of communist states in Sofia, Romania joined the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) in refusing to endorse the invasion.
During Andropov's brief tenure as Soviet leader, relations remained frigid. The wording of the communique following a meeting with Ceausescu in Moscow suggested that Andropov intended to pressure Romania to bring its foreign policy into line with the Warsaw Pact. The Romanian leadership appeared to suspect Andropov of pro-Hungarian sympathies because of his close personal friendship with First Secretary János Kádár of Hungary. Romanian disagreements with the Soviet position on intermediate nuclear forces in Europe also surfaced during the Andropov period.
Ceausescu's Moscow meeting with Chernenko in June 1984 was cordial and promised an improvement in the Romanian-Soviet relationship. Ceausescu had backed Chernenko over Andropov to succeed Brezhnev, and their mutual regard was reflected in less divergent positions on international issues. In contrast with previous years, Ceausescu began to increase his criticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States for the deterioration of international relations.
With the replacement of Chernenko by Gorbachev in 1985, political relations between Romaina and the Soviet Union began to cool again, although the economic relationship improved. Soviet oil deliveries rose while Romania became the largest supplier of oil- and gas-drilling equipment to the Soviet Union. In other spheres, however, relations were tense, as Ceausescu's Stalinist philosophy conflicted with Gorbachev's program of glasnost' (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). In reaction to the political changes occurring throughout Eastern Europe in the wake of Soviet reforms, Romania moved toward retrenchment. Ceausescu rejected the decentralization of economic planning and management, the reintroduction of market mechanisms, and private enterprise as incompatible with socialism.
Romania also rejected much of Gorbachev's foreign policy. In December 1987, Ceausescu failed to attend a Warsaw Pact summit in East Berlin, where Gorbachev briefed leaders on his trip to Washington. While the Soviets frequently spoke of positive trends in East-West relations and progress in arms control, Ceausescu's statements took exception. He criticized the rationale for the Soviet-United States dialogue, stating that the international situation remained complex and fraught with the danger of war. Romania increasingly adopted a more hawkish position than the Soviet Union and the other Warsaw Pact members on a number of East- West issues.
In May 1987, Gorbachev visited Romania, and the two leaders publicly aired their differences. Referring to complaints of mistreatment of the Hungarian minority, Gorbachev reminded Ceausescu of the need to demonstrate "tact" and "consideration" in nationality policy. He also criticized nepotism in the Eastern bloc, without mentioning Ceausescu by name, and complained about Romania's unwillingness to expand cooperation with the other members of Comecon. In October 1988, Ceausescu visited Moscow for official discussions with Gorbachev but failed to improve the state of bilateral relations. By that time, the Hungarian-Romanian dispute had become an even more serious issue.
Romania's objections to perestroika influenced its relations with other East European countries. It appeared that two major camps were emerging within the Warsaw Pact, with Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Romania lining up against restructuring and Hungary, Poland, and the Soviet Union favoring it. Romania strove to improve its relationship with the countries sharing its dislike for perestroika. Bulgaria had already established a special relationship with Ceausescu and his predecessor, Gheorghiu-Dej. Ceausescu and Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov, the two East European leaders with the longest tenure, met at least twice yearly and signed numerous joint venture and trade agreements.
Relations with Czechoslovakia improved markedly after Ceausescu's May 1987 visit, largely because of the countries' shared opposition to perestroika. Likewise, even before Gorbachev's rise to power, Romanian-East German relations had been fostered by certain shared resentments of Soviet actions. East Germany's Erich Honecker was the only Warsaw Pact leader to appear in Bucharest on the occasion of the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Romania's liberation.
Although in the postwar period Romania and Hungary were "fraternal states in the socialist community of nations," bilateral relations were marred by historical hostility, and disputes continued to erupt throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1977 Kádár visited Romania, and he and Ceausescu signed a comprehensive agreement governing bilateral relations. The agreement called for more cultural exchanges between the countries and for setting up additional consulates in Szeged and Cluj-Napoca for that purpose. The Hungarian government hoped the agreement would improve its contact with the Hungarian minority in Romania, but the Ceausescu regime failed to implement the agreement and continued its policy of forced assimilation under the guise of enhancing national unity.
In the 1980s Romanian-Hungarian relations remained tense. The Hungarian government and intellectual circles began to express concern over the issue of ethnic assimilation in Romania. In 1982, reports of mistreatment of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania further exacerbated relations. The media of both countries publicized the controversy, and an energetic anti-Hungarian propaganda campaign on the anniversary of Romania's union with Transylvania brought relations to their lowest level since World War II.
With the progressive deterioration of Romanian-Hungarian relations, polemics crept into official political statements. In 1985 the Central Committee secretary for international relations in Budapest blamed the poor relations on the political climate and reduced human contacts, presumably referring to a series of measures taken by Romania to hinder contacts between Transylvanian ethnic Hungarians and Hungarian visitors. The next day, Ceausescu at a Central Committee plenum criticized "nationalism, chauvinism, and revanchism wherever it was to be found." In turn Radio Budapest accused Romania of failing to implement the 1977 agreements signed by Kádár and Ceausescu.
A particularly serious episode in the chronology of the crisis was the Hungarian Ministry of Culture's 1986 publication of the three-volume History of Transylvania. The work followed Bucharest's publication of two volumes describing atrocities committed against Romanians by Hungarian forces occupying Transylvania from 1940 to 1944. The Romanians started a propaganda campaign against the publication of Hungary's three-volume work. Ceausescu addressed a joint plenum of the German and Hungarian nationality councils and condemned the publication as the "revival of Horthyst, fascist, and even racist theses by reactionary imperialist circles."
In 1987 relations between the two countries further worsened as large numbers of ethnic Hungarians began leaving Romania. The Hungarian government established an interdepartmental committee and allocated the equivalent of approximately US$5 million to resettle the refugees. Meanwhile, 40,000 people marched to the Romanian embassy in Budapest to protest the planned demolition of Transylvanian villages. The demonstration, organized by Hungary's dissident Democratic Forum, appeared to have the tacit support of the Hungarian government. The protesters regarded the planned demolitions as an attempt to disperse the ethnic Hungarian population, which they claimed numbered some 2.5 million persons. Following the demonstration, Hungary was ordered to close its consulate in Cluj-Napoca and vacate its embassy in Bucharest, which was to be converted to a cultural center.
In an attempt to resolve some of the issues dividing the countries and to obtain guarantees for the rights of the Hungarian minority in Romania, new Hungarian leader Karoly Grosz met Ceausescu in August 1988 at the Romanian city of Arad--the first meeting between the countries' leaders in more than ten years. The day-long discussion was fruitless, as the Romanians rejected two key proposals. The first called for reopening the consulates closed during the dispute--the Romanian office at Debrecen and the Hungarian facility at Cluj-Napoca. The second appealed for an end to the rural systematization program.
In March 1989, Hungary declared that it would lodge a complaint with the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva concerning Romania's failure to abide by cultural agreements, its policy of forced assimilation of minorities, and the flood of refugees into Hungary. At Geneva the Hungarian representative accused Romania of "severe violations of basic human rights," while his Romanian counterpart reproached Hungary for "pursuing irredentist goals." The Hungarian government therefore decided to join the Geneva Refugee Convention and to establish refugee camps in the eastern part of the country and in Budapest.
The Swedish representative to the UN Human Rights Commission submitted a resolution calling for an investigation of alleged human rights violations by Romania. The Swedish initiative was cosponsored by Australia, Austria, Britain, France, and Portugal. Later Hungary made an offer to "co-sponsor" the resolution. Romania rejected the criticism as meddling in its internal affairs. The Romanian representative to the Commission claimed that all ethnic groups in Romania enjoyed "legal guarantees and the means to preserve their cultural identity."
In January 1967, Romania became the second Warsaw Pact state after the Soviet Union to establish diplomatic relations with West Germany, an action based on the Warsaw Pact's Bucharest Declaration of 1966. The declaration affirmed that there were "circles that oppose revanchism and militarism and that seek the development of normal relations with countries of both the East and the West as well as a normalization of relations between the two German states." The declaration also included a statement affirming that a basic condition for European security was the establishment of normal relations between states "regardless of their social system."
In the period after 1967, relations with West Germany passed through several stages. Initially, Romania minimized differences in ideology and foreign and domestic policy. But friction soon surfaced over the question of ethnic German emigration. In 1979 West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt visited Bucharest and extended credit guarantees of approximately US$368 million in return for Romanian pledges to facilitate the reunification of ethnic German families. The issue resurfaced in 1983 when the socalled education tax would have increased West Germany's payment of the equivalent of US$2,632 per ethnic German emigrant to US$42,105. After visits by Bavarian premier Franz Joseph Strauss and West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, an agreement was reached whereby the West German government increased its payment per emigrant to approximately US$5,263. According to press reports, the agreement remained in effect until June 30, 1988, and provided for the emigration of 11,000 to 13,000 Transylvanian Saxons annually. The West German publication Die Welt reported that in January 1989 a follow-up agreement had been reached by which Romania would continue to permit emigration at the previous rate.
Political relations with West Germany, which had been their most cordial during Willi Brandt's chancellorship, took a sharp downturn in the 1980s. Ceausescu's 1984 visit to Bonn had sought to exploit a setback in West German relations with Bulgaria, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Observers believed that Ceausescu was determined to rebuild his tarnished reputation in the West. But disagreements over arms control, trade, and the treatment of ethnic Germans prevented the issue of a joint communique.
After the mid-1980s, West German official criticism gave way to direct acts of protest against Romanian policies. In April 1989, Chancellor Helmut Kohl declared that the situation for Romania's ethnic Germans had become intolerable. At the same time, the West German Foreign Ministry lodged an official condemnation of Romania's human rights policies.
Relations with the United States were initiated on a limited scale in the early 1960s, and ambassadors were exchanged in 1964. But with the United States' increased involvement in the Vietnam War, relations deteriorated. In the late 1960s, following Romanian condemnation of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia and the opening of the Paris peace talks, political relations between the two states improved significantly, but economic relations remained minimal because of United States restrictions on trade with Eastern Europe.
Evidence of improved relations between the nations was President Nixon's visit to Romania in August 1969--the first visit by an American head of state to a communist country since the 1945 Yalta Conference. Nixon received an enthusiastic welcome, and a wide range of international problems were discussed. The countries agreed upon the mutual establishment of libraries, the opening of negotiations for the conclusion of a consular convention, and the development and diversification of economic ties. Ceausescu visited the United States in October 1970 to attend the twentyfifth anniversary session of the UN General Assembly.
Nixon moved to strengthen economic relations with Romania, and in 1972 the United States Congress debated granting most-favored- nation status. In 1975 a three-year agreement made Romania the first East European country to receive the special trade status, and in 1981 bilateral trade reached US$1 billion. But because of persistent reports of human rights violations in Romania, and the regime's decision to impose an education tax on applicants for exit visas, the United States Congress hesitated to renew most-favored- nation status.
In November 1985, Secretary of State George Schultz visited Bucharest and warned that Romania could lose most-favored-nation status unless it changed its human rights policies. Both sides agreed to establish a system of consultation on human rights issues. Romania did not abide by the agreement, however, and at the beginning of 1987 it was removed from the list of countries allowed to export certain goods--mainly raw materials--duty-free to the United States. The United States Congress voted to suspend mostfavored -nation status for six months because of Romanian limitations of religious freedom, restrictions on emigration, and persecution of its Hungarian minority. The Reagan administration, however, succeeded in getting congressional approval for its recommendation to renew the status, hoping the action would encourage Romania to improve its human rights record.
In February 1988, Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead visited Bucharest and restated United States disapproval of Romania's human rights policies. Ceausescu, in turn, accused the United States of meddling in Romanian internal affairs. Later the same month, the United States State Department announced that Romania had relinquished its most-favored-nation trade status.
The deterioration in relations continued, and in March 1989 the United States Department of State called off plans for a meeting with high-ranking Romanian officials, warning that a further crackdown against critics of the regime would have negative consequences for bilateral relations.
After the mid-1960s, political, economic, and cultural ties also expanded with other Western countries, particularly Austria, Britain, France, and Italy. Economic relations with these countries were especially important to Romania, and several trade and jointventure agreements were negotiated.
After the late 1970s, relations with these countries, as with the West in general, took a sharp downturn. In particular relations with France deteriorated severely. For centuries French culture had exercised profound influence on Romania, which viewed itself as France's special friend in Eastern Europe. President de Gaulle's visit in 1968 reaffirmed this feeling of amity. But during the 1980s, human rights abuses, the poor performance of French-Romanian joint ventures, and unfair Romanian trade practices (including the dumping of steel) poisoned the relationship.
Perhaps the most damaging episode in French-Romanian relations was a spy scandal in the early 1980s known as the "Tanase affair." Virgil Tanase, a dissident Romanian writer, accused the Romanian government of mounting a plot to assassinate himself and another émigré, Paul Goma. Shortly thereafter, President François Mitterand cancelled an official visit to Romania and relations worsened rapidly. Romania expelled several French journalists, and in March 1989, France recalled its ambassador in reaction to the persecution of signers of a letter condemning Ceausescu's rule.
Relations with Britain took a similar course. Optimistic jointventure and trade agreements in the 1970s, including licenses from British Aerospace and Rolls-Royce to build sophisticated aircraft, were followed in the 1980s by official revulsion for Ceausescu's human rights abuses. The British considered withdrawing their ambassador from Romania and stripping Ceausescu of an honorary British distinction.
The Middle East situation posed a dilemma for the Ceausescu government, which sought to maintain relations with both sides of the conflict. In 1969 Romania announced an agreement to elevate its relations with Israel to the ambassadorial level, while continuing to voice support for "the struggle of the Arab people to defend their national independence and sovereignty" and calling for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
The Ceausescu regime maintained good relations with both Egypt and Israel and played an intermediary role in arranging Egyptian President Anwar as Sadat's visit to Israel in 1977. In the following years Romania maintained contacts with all parties in the conflict and cautiously endorsed the Camp David Accords, in contrast with the Soviet Union and other East European countries. In later years, Romania called for a global approach to the Middle East crisis that would involve all interested parties, including the PLO. Ceausescu offered to act as an intermediary and met several Arab leaders including PLO chairman Yasir Arafat. Some observers believed Ceausescu's intermediary efforts were designed to gain access to new sources of Middle East oil to compensate for the suspension of Iranian oil deliveries.
After the late 1970s, Romania advocated a peace plan featuring four points: Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied from June 1967, including East Jerusalem and southern Lebanon; establishment of an independent state governed by the PLO; guarantees for the security of all states in the region; and convocation of an international peace conference, with representatives from the PLO, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Although Israel rejected all four points of the plan, it continued to maintain good relations with Romania.
After 1985 relations with Israel gradually deteriorated. Although the countries continued to exchange high-level visits, they failed to make major breakthroughs. Romania continued to insist on Israeli concessions, including direct negotiations with the PLO. In August 1987, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel, after nine hours of talks with Ceausescu in Bucharest, reported no progress on the issue of Middle East negotiations. A few months later, Ceausescu invited representatives of the PLO and the Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue Committee to a meeting in Romania, but that discussion too bore no fruit.
Relations with the PLO were generally good, and Arafat and other high-ranking PLO officials frequently travelled to Bucharest. The Romanian media described Arafat as a personal friend and comrade of Ceausescu. Between November 1987 and December 1988, Arafat met with Ceausescu five times. The PLO opened one of its first diplomatic offices in Bucharest, and several bilateral agreements were concluded, some of which reportedly offered the PLO educational and even military training facilities in Romania.
|what's new | rainforests home | for kids | help | madagascar | search | about | languages | contact
Copyright 2013 Mongabay.com