Ceausescu's Romania




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Nicolae Ceausescu prison photo


Brief Background

Nicolae Ceausescu was born on 26th of January 1918 in a tiny village Wallachia, of Scornicesti just out of the capital of Bucharest. He was one of seven children from a poor middle class family. His father Nicolae was a drunk and named three of his sons Nicolae, by the time he got the next town to register the birth it was the only boy’s name he remembered. Ceausescu school recorders were not the best, he was also known to have quite a bad temper he left school at 14. He moved to the capital Bucharest to live with his older sister, he became an apprentice shoemaker and was radicalised partly by his sister’s husband who was a socialist and partly by the underground communist party in Bucharest. Ceausescu became a political street brawler against the thugs on the Right; he was first arrested before he was 16 in 1933. He spent the next few years in and out of prison this is where he met one of the Romanian Communist Party leaders Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej at Doftana prison Ceausescu was taken under the leaders wink and this is when he was schooled in Marxist-Leninist doctrine. Gheorghiu-Dej liked the young Ceausescu, Ceausescu proved to be very useful for them running errand and doing whatever they wanted. In 1938, while out of prison he met his wife Elena who like him was at the Communist Youth League meeting. They married when he was released in 1944. On the 4th of August 1944 according to RCP records Gheorghiu-Dej lawyer dressed as a Soviet officer, presented fake documents to the prison, charges were dropped and he was released from prison. Gheorghiu-Dej was to take over the position of Secretary-General for the RCP in the Soviet installed government. Ceausescu was officially freed soon after. After his release, Ceausescu began to climb the ranks in the communist party thanks to sharing a cell with Gheorghiu-Dej, who admired his brains and ruthlessness. This was when Ceausescu did the dirty work for the party, as he was talented at bully tactics to get what he wanted. Ceausescu was promoted up the ranks in 1949 he became the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, transferring to the Ministry of Armed Forces. By 1955, he had been promoted to the Political Bureau where he was in charge of all party appointments and promotions. This gave him the best chance of becoming party leader, which happened in 1965 when Gheorghiu-Dej died from cancer. Ceausescu was liked in his early years he represented a slightly more liberal image as he lifted censorship slightly. This changed though when he became a hard-line Communist after a long state visit to North Korea and China at the end of 1971.[1]

Communism in Romania
The Romanian communist Party (RCP) was founded the 13th of May 1921 but was unpopular in the beginning with ranging membership of 300 to 1600 members. On April 11 1924, the current government under Alexander Averescu ordered the RCP congress be arrested and the party was banned for its support of the Soviet Union’s refusal to recognise Romanian Control over one of their provinces of Bessarabia. The ban of the communist party for the next 20 years weakened its political effectiveness. The 1930’s saw leadership of the party being mainly intellectuals who were non-Romanians, with moderates and hardliners, which were committed to Soviet guidelines. The party would eventually have to be run from outside Romania for the members own safety. August 1944 saw the Axis side of the war invaded by the Soviet Union where they worked to install a pro-soviet government. Once they got Gheorghiu-Dej out of prison, they set to work on changing the multiparty parliament that was in power at the time. When the 1946 election came around they were delayed eventually going ahead they were faked according to international observers but were declared as being true with the RCP newly formed Bloc of Democratic Parties gaining 79.86% of the vote or 378 of the 414 seats. This gave them total control in the government this is where they began to consolidate its power over the press, military and cultural activities. 1947 saw the peace treaty with USSR, which returned northern Transylvania to Romania and a withdrawal of soviet troops. Later that year the communist party believed the kingdom was incompatible so on King Michael’s return from the wedding of Princess Elizabeth in London he was asked to abdicate he resisted but with the threat of bloodshed, he agreed on December 30. King Michael soon left Romania for England. With the abdication of the King, the party was now free to do as it pleased. It began by slowly cutting ties with the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death 5th of March 1953.Ceausescu took over the communist party once Gheorghiu-Dej death in 1965 and continued to rule until his death in 1989.[2]

Ceausescu’s relationships with other countries
Seen as Ceausescu like his predesor disliked the Soviet government and influence Ceausescu started to look to western countries for financial backing. The United States was one country; they believed him to be a ‘good communist’ as he was anti-Soviet Union. He kept good relations with most countries paying visits to both England staying with the Queen at Buckingham palace and in the White House in the USA. Ceausescu paid many trips to North Korea and to China learning from such powerful leaders.[3]

Romania’s culture does not account for the rise and maintenance of power the country was subject to many of the second world wars treaties and pacts and was the Iron Gate side gaining influence from the Soviet Union. Economic and other factors such as deep repression give a better account for how and why Ceausescu remained in power for so long and was able to be so brutal.

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Nicolae Ceausescu 1918-89

Romania as a Dictatorship
Defining what a dictatorship is hard to do in modern times, Jennifer Gandhi explains it as;
“Dictatorships are defined as regimes in which rulers acquire power by means other than competitive elections”.[4] This is a simple definition of what a dictatorship is but if we apply Romania under Ceausescu. It would be defined as being a dictatorship seen as Ceausescu acquired power through being appointed Secretary-General of the RCP by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej on his deathbed in 1965 he was elected through a competitive election. Ceausescu did not happen to become president of the whole country until 1967 two years after become the party Secretary-General.

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Map of Romania

According to Levitsky and Way reading a full democracy must meet four minimum criteria;[5]
  • Executives and legislatures are chosen through elections that are open, free and fair.
- This did not happen in Romania. Top executives within the Romanian Communist Party worked their way to the top, or were appointed by the top officials to their roles within the party. Ceausescu is an example of this himself he worked his way up the ranks of the party to be appointed by the previous leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej before he died as the RCP Secretary-General.
  • Virtually all adults possess the right to vote.
- Romanians did not get the opportunity to vote during Ceausescu’s rule as Ceausescu had consolidated all power. Members of the party were
internal elevation through the Party ranks and were the only ones that voted. Always keeping Ceausescu as the leader and president. There was no form of public elections and when there were, they were rigged to support the outcome the party wanted.
  • Political rights and civil liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of association, and freedom to criticize the government without reprisal, are broadly protected.
- This also failed in Romania Ceausescu kept all citizens rights repressed there were no social or political groups allowed in Romania. Everything was state controlled but some people were able to pick up Radio Free Europe and BBC, which were illegal. This gave them knowledge as to what was going on in the rest of the world and internally when information could escape information that was not heavily filtered with propaganda from the government. Ceausescu policed this through fear and the Securitate, which was the secret police.
  • Elected authorities possess real authority to govern in that they are not subject to the tutelary control of military or clerical leaders.
- Ceausescu himself possesses all of the power he has total control over all including the military and other members of his government and fellow communist party members. An example of this is with the Defence Minister General Vasile Milea's death. It is unclear whether he was shot, or forced to commit suicide, but Milea died because of Ceausescu’s command. Because of the people that demonstrating against Ceausescu during the revolution.

Following on from the Levitsky and Way the class used these categorise for the classification exercise if we use the same system.
- Suffrage
Before the communism system, there was universal suffrage for those over 18 but once the Soviet Union started to interfere and influence politics, elections were highly rigged and ballots were forged and changed to suit the RCP from then on there were no more elections of such.
- Elections
Romania had elections but once the RCP got into power, the elections were superficial and only within the party. There was no opposition to contest them as opposition was banned.
- Civil Rights
All civil rights were repressed and abused under Ceausescu there was no freedom of the press and no right to criticise or gather in groups against the regime.
- Government legitimacy to rule
The people he is re-elected by the RCP did not elect Ceausescu but there are no other options and he is always re-elected because he has control of the party and everybody supports him so he does not have a legitimate claim to rule the people of Romania.

These results, give us the conclusion that Ceausescu’s Romania was a complete dictatorship.


Mechanisms of Control

Nicolae Ceausescu used varying mechanisms of control over the twenty four years of his regime to stay in power.

Cult of PersonalityThis mechanism of control is defined as “promotion of the image of an authoritarian leader not merely as a political figure but as someone who embodies the spirit of the nation and possesses endowments of wisdom and strength far beyond those of average individual and is thus portrayed in a quasi-religious manner.”[6] Nicolae had pictures of himself plastered all of Romania in a act of self promotion. In later years his wife Elena also had pictures of herself all over Romania, however she was set out very strict guidelines of what pictures could be permitted to be used. The pictures that were used were often younger pictures of themselves. This was seen in 1986 when Nicolae was turning 68 but the pictures of him all around the country were him looking barely over the age of 40.

Media also portrayed Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu in a good light by referring to them with such names as ‘The Source of Our Light, The Celestial Body and The Treasure of Wisdom and Charisma.’[7] Both Ceausescus loved the flattery and believed all the great things that were written about them. They were both very unaware of the citizens' actual feelings towards them that consisted of being deeply fearful of their leader and his wife.






FearThe Romanian secret police was set up in 1952 under the name of Directorate of the People’s Security (DGSP) or shortened to Securitate. The Securitate under Ceausescu was one of the most brutal in Eastern Bloc at this time. The aim of the Securitate was to inflict fear by spreading rumours of terror. People were scared to do even the most irrelevant actions for if they were perceived by Ceausescu as any form of opposition towards him they would severally punished. An example of this is when a young woman was returning from her yoga class and she was beaten up by the Securitate who afterwards informed her to stop practising yoga. She did so after realising she was being followed. Of course the story spread and practising yoga was a known to be a political crime, which was quickly discontinued. Another example of this is the typewriter law:

“The renting or lending of a typewriter is forbidden. Every owner of a typewriter must have for it an authorisation from the militia, which can be issued only after a request has been made. All private persons who have a typewriter must, in the next few days, seek to be issued with such an authorisation. Such a request, in writing, must be sent to the municipal militia, or the town or community militia, wherever the applicant happens to reside, and the following details must be supplied: first and second names of the applicant; names of his parents; place and date of birth; address; profession; place of work; type and design of the typewriter; how it was obtained (purchase, gift, inheritance); and for what purpose it was being used. If the application is granted, the applicant will receive an authorisation for the typewriter within 60 days. On a specified date, the owner of the typewriter must report with the machine to the militia office in order to provide an example of his typing. A similar example has to be provided every year, specifically during the first two months of the year, as well as after every repair to the typewriter. If the application is refused, the applicant can lodge an appeal within in 60 days, with this local militia. If the appeal is dismissed, the typewriter must be sold within in 10 days (with a bill of sale) or given as a gift, to any person possessing the necessary authorisation. Anyone wishing to buy a typewriter must first of all apply for an authorisation. Anyone who inherits a typewriter or receives one as a gift must apply for an authorisation at once. Defective typewriters which can no longer be repaired must be sent to a collection point for such material, but only after the typewriter’s keys, numbers and signs, have been surrendered to the militia. If the owner of a typewriter should change his address, he should report to the militia within five days.” [8]


This was a law introduced in March 1983. All examples were kept on a police record so they could be traced. This law shows just how controlling Ceausescu was of his citizens. He infiltrated and meddled with every single aspect of their lives.


Nicolae Ceausescu’s birthday on January the 26th was a day that was celebrated by all in Romania of their great leader’s life and his accomplishments. Many people however, just put on a facade to hide their real feelings of misery that had been brought upon them by Ceausescu’s regime. He would often quote Emperor Caligula for example “better to be feared then loved.” [9] A quote like this clearly shows that Ceausescu did not have much at all, if any, compassion and concern for the citizens of his Romanian nation.


Nicolae Ceausescu was greatly worried about his regime being overthrown and found ways to stop any outsiders from opposing his regime. The first thing he did was put members of his family or of his wife Elena’s family in top positions within the government and ruling party. Four of Ceausescu’s brothers were held the positions of Lieutenant General, Deputy Defence Minister, Party Newspaper Editor and running a secret arms business. Other family members were Deputy Prime Minister, Head of the Red Cross organisation and various top positions in the party. This action puts a stop to any outsiders from working their way up to an important position within the government and attacking it from the inside. Elena was the one in control of Romania whenever her husband was overseas. She was also commonly overheard saying to him within earshot of other people “I am the only person you can truly trust.”[10]


Ceausescu was particularly ruthless towards women. Abortion was forbidden to women under the age of 45 with a new law in 1986. He wished for the population to increase by another seven million people. “the foetus is the property of the entire society. Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity.”[11] Contraception was banned, there was no sex education available in schools and the girls were legally able to marry at the age of 15. Medical examinations were required every one to three months for signs of pregnancy or that they have had an abortion. If a woman miscarried or didn’t give birth at the expected time would be questioned by the police. Women of course then resort to more drastic ways of back street abortions. These go wrong in most cases but women are too fearful to go seek the appropriate medical care resulting in over 1000 deaths each year in the capital Bucharest alone.



Economy

Romania’s economy was deeply affected during Ceausescu’s rule and the people were even more so. He wanted to pay off Romania’s foreign debt that was a total of 13.2 billion in 1982 by the year 1990. This he achieved, but it was not without much suffering from his own people and he lost much respect that he had gained in the international community.


The Rational Nourishment Commission was created in 1982 coinciding with Ceausescu’s aim to pay off foreign debt by the year 1990. It consisted of very strict outlines of the dietary requirements of one person.


  • 114 eggs per year
  • 20 kilograms of fruit and grapes
  • 54.88 kilograms of meat
  • 14.8 kilograms of potatoes
  • 114.5 kilograms of flour[12]

Although the above list is an appropriate diet in reality this did not occur as people were given much less than what had been outlined. Less than a quarter of Romania’s food production actually reached the citizens. Electrical heating was able to be used for just two hours a day. Due to a lack of heating in homes many people died as a result of hypothermia. Even official weather reports were lied about due to the law stating that if the temperature dropped under 10°C heating of public places had to be turned on. Romania was also affected by several natural disasters a earthquake in 1977 and floods in 1980 and 1981 affecting export products. Another input into Romania’s down falling economy was the Iranian revolution in 1979 who was an importer and crude oil supplier for Romania’s oil refineries.

People were forced to work on Sundays and on public holidays. Nicolae Ceausescu announced a plan in 1986 to breed horses as an alternative form of transport instead of petrol cars. In the previous two decades tractors were used on farms but in the 1980s sickles and scythes were being used instead.

In April 1989 Ceausescu announced that Romania’s foreign debt had been paid off. The hope that citizens had of food and electricity restrictions being lifted was quickly quashed. Ceausescu and his wife hatched a plan to build a gracious building that would remain as a historical feature and remind citizens of the greatness they brought to Romania (in their eyes anyway). The funding came from Romanian citizens instead giving it back in ways of resources they kept it for themselves. Ironically the building was called the People’s Palace.

A perfect summary of Romania’s state is “it’s all going backwards by leaps and bounds. It will soon be an underdeveloped country with a pastoral economy. If you like the 19th century, this will be the place.” [13] In order to help his country get out of debt Ceausescu employed very harsh policies although it was with good intentions. By doing this he actually crippled his people and therefore the nation. It was more of a hindrance than a help.

Political Theories on Ceausescu's Romania

The mechanisms of control and policies that Ceausescu implemented during his twenty four year reign can be further explained by the use of political theories.
“Competition for national leadership is a hallmark of economic growth, but it also creates problems for leaders who aspire to maximise their time in office.”[14] Ceausescu squashed all possible competition he used the Securitate to ensure that citizens were not able to conspire against him in any way, shape or form.
"The selectorate and the winning coalition are what keep the ruler in power."[15] Due to the fact that Ceausescu placed family members at the top positions of government was how he kept his monopoly on power.

“Governments raise resources through taxation.”[16] Ceausescu took this to the ultimate extreme where he was not just taxing his citizen’s wages but their wellbeing. Romania's economy suffered greatly under Ceausescu. Although he started the to pay off foreign debt he continued to do so to maintain his life of luxury to build the 'People's Palace.'

Bad policy is good politics because their focus is on cronyism and corruption ensures their enduring leadership.”[17] Nicolae Ceausescu’s policies crippled the Romanian economy. People’s political and civil rights were also heavily suppressed because of the fear he caused them to feel by having their every action monitored to the point of ridiculous as seen with the typewriter law registration.

“Leaders who produce famine, poverty, and misery seem like dismal failures who ought to be removed from office as quickly as possible. Yet the irony is that leaders who produce poverty and misery keep their jobs much longer than those who make their country richer.”[18] In the case of Romania under Ceausescu’s rule this is true. Although he was liked for his first few years in power his economic policies began to take their toll on the citizens of Romania. They knew that to begin with it was for the greater good of their country to get out of debt. When the restrictions remained in place even though the debt had been paid, citizens were hugely disappointed in their leader, even more so than what they were beforehand. He was finally using the money fully for his own benefit with the construction of the People’s Palace.

"The Dictator’s Dilemma – the problem facing any ruler of knowing how much support he has among the general population."[19] In the case of Ceausescu this applies for the fact that he was so repressive of his people that citizens had to lie about their true feelings towards him and his regime as if they tried to oppose him they would be punished. This also made it hard for Ceausescu as he was so repressive he could not actually know the true numbers that supported him.

“Repression does not mean that dictators are unpopular.”[20] This was indeed true for the beginning Ceausescu’s regime when it was thought of as successful, prosperous, liberal and fulled Romanian citizens with hope. However this did change in the mid 1970s to his collapse in 1989 when economic decline, industrial and stagnation, lose of international support, internal oppression, discontent, dissent, and despair struck Ceausescu's regime. He was popular to begin with but as time went on he got more paranoid and this need for hold on power grew so he the more repressive he was on his people.

Ceausescu’s Fall

Ceausescu was in power for twenty four years, and then suddenly his regime was toppled in four days. This is characteristic of highly repressive regimes such as in Romania. Because of the high levels of repression enforced by the Securitate, dissent was relatively rare, with grievances building up until they reached the tipping point and caused the breakdown of the regime. The catalyst for the protests that brought an end to Ceausescu’s reign began in Timisoara in Transylvania.

The Beginning of the End

The actions of young pastor named Laszlo Tokes were the spark that set off the chain of events ending in the execution of the Ceausescus. He had already been marked as a troublemaker by the Securitate for his support for the Hungarian minority. The real trouble began in September of 1988 when he openly supported a letter written by a member of his congregation to the Bishop of Arad criticizing the regime. Tokes was arrested and interrogated by the secret police. His proposal to hold a joint Catholic/Reform Church service for Timisoara youth, it was the breaking point that set in motion the legal process to get the pastor fired and evicted from his home. After he was beaten up in November 1989 and lost his final appeal, he asked his congregation to witness his eviction, which took place on December 15 1989. Initially about thirty five congregants showed up, but as word spread about the demonstration, the number of demonstrators grew into the thousands. The demonstration changed from being about Tokes’ eviction to a general protest against the regime. The protest continued overnight, with a standoff between the protesters and Securitate forces continuing for all of Saturday. The first stirrings of power were felt when the Securitate left on Saturday afternoon. At first, Ceausescu allowed the demonstration to continue, thinking that it would cease by itself. When it had not stopped by Sunday morning, the Securitate and police began making arrests. The crowd marched to the centre of Timisoara where they encountered riot police, who were forced to withdraw. Protesters rushed the Communist Party Headquarters, and temporarily held control of the city centre.[21]

When Ceausescu heard of the mobs in Timisoara, he was very disappointed in the approach of his security services to halting the rioting. He was determined that he would give no ground to the protestors. In a meeting with the heads of his security forces, he said that they would ‘fight to the last’.[22] He was willing to kill his citizens in order to keep order. As a result of Ceausescu’s orders, 700 people were arrested that night, and the armed forces fatally shot sixty civilians. According to Sebestyen, it was the bloodiest protest thus far in Communist Romania. Ceausescu went to Iran the next day, leaving Elena in charge, and thinking he had quieted the protesters.

Rumor, inaccurate foreign radio broadcasts and the lack of local reporting elevated the death toll in the Timisoara riots to anything between 4,000 and 20,000. Romanians thought that Ceausescu had massacred thousands of people, and it was the event that pushed the rest of Romania into active opposition.[23]

Fatal Mistakes

Timeline of the Revolution
Timeline of the Revolution

On his return from Iran, Nicolae Ceausescu made three fatal miscalculations that resulted in the rapid end of his regime, and the execution by firing squad of him and his wife.

The First Mistake

After returning from Iran, Ceausescu decided to hold a giant rally in Bucharest’s Palace Square to assure the world that he was still in charge, and still loved by his people. The crowd for his speech was assembled by Party officials. Usually vetted to screen for any potential troublemakers, this time the crowd was too hastily gathered to ensure that disorderly people were not admitted to the square. Securitate forces were present in the crowd, but spread thinly. Ceausescu was addressing the crowd from the balcony several minutes into his speech when booing and chanting began. Romanian television was broadcasting live, and captured Ceausescu’s inability to control the crowd. Panicking, he offered minimal (equivalent to about US$2 per month) pension and family allowance raises. Unable to stop the chanting, Ceausescu was forced to leave the balcony. If instead, he had used his Securitate to force the people back to order, instead of being the defining moment of weakness it became, this speech could have changed the chain of events in Romania completely. Instead, as people heard that Ceausescu was being challenged, thousands gathered in the streets to demonstrate. As in Timisoara, Ceausescu ordered the Securitate to shoot at demonstrators. But the people were determined to stay on the streets.[24]

A Second Miscalculation

Once he saw that the protesters could not be easily suppressed by force, Ceausescu made the decision to stay in Bucharest, saying at one point ‘I’ll stay and fight...I won’t be forced to run away...’ even though he had a special guard and a network of tunnels under Bucharest which would have allowed him to escape from the Communist Party headquarters into one of his other Bucharest offices and then elsewhere into Romania to gather support.[25]

The Third Error

Instead, Ceausescu chose to blame the loss of control of the people on his Defence Minister, General Vasile Milea. It is unclear whether he was shot, or forced to commit suicide, but Milea died because of Ceausescu’s command. This was a costly mistake which turned much of Ceausescu’s police and military forces against him and made Milea into a martyr. This occurred at about 9 o’clock the morning of the 22nd. Ceausescu tried one last time to speak to the people, but as by this time news of Milea’s death had spread and army units had defected to join the protesters, he had rocks thrown at him and was unable to make a speech.[26] Just past noon, a helicopter took the Ceausescus away. By this point, everyone was making decisions about whether to support the regime in its last legs. The pilot of their helicopter made his decision, and chose to fly high so that they would be picked up on the radar. Panicked, Ceausescu forced the pilot to land. At this point, their party consisted of only the Ceausescus and their two body guards. On the ground, they flagged down two cars, with Elena’s bodyguard in the second car. Once he was away from them, he too promptly defected. They were driven to Targoviste, where they thought they would be welcomed. Instead, the director of the agricultural plant they hoped to shelter at turned notified the militia of their presence.[27]

The End

After they were handed over to the militia, the Ceausescus were taken to the local militia barracks, where they spent their last two days. While the Ceausescus were being held in Targoviste, Bucharest had turned to chaos. Civilians occupied the Party headquarters, but they were unorganized and inexperienced. The leadership emerged at the television broadcasting studio. There, people with influence gathered, and a makeshift government headed by Ion Iliescu was formed. Iliescu had been part of Romania’s communist party, but was viewed as a potential rival to Ceausescu, and was blocked from attaining any real power during Ceausescu’s reign. He was promoted to head of government by the army after Ceausescu left Bucharest. Fighting broke out in the streets of Bucharest army members on one side, and still loyal Securitate members opposing them. In the three days before Nicolae Ceausescu 3,352 people were wounded and 1,104 people died in the fighting.[28]

On Christmas Eve, the new regime met to resolve the fate of the Ceausescus. Although there was minimal opposition, it was decided that they would be executed by firing squad immediately following a trial the next day. After a hasty trial on the 25th accusing them of genocide, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were executed.

Why the Regime Fell

Splits within the Elite

One of the reasons that Ceausescu’s regime fell was that there was a split between the hard-liner regime of Ceausescu and the soft-liner one of Gorbachev’s Soviet Union. Gorbachev implemented a policy of perestroika, which led to political and economic liberalization. Ceausescu had a hardliner approach towards economic and political policies, and rejected the possibility of liberalization. When demonstrations in December of 1989 began, instead of offering concessions to the people, Ceausescu berated his security forces for not shooting them. When things started going seriously wrong for Ceausescu, Gorbachev ‘decreed that there should be no direct Soviet involvement in Romania’.[29] They felt that intervening in Romania would martyr Ceausescu.[30]

Ceausescu also alienated the army elite when he blamed General Vasile Milea for the outcome of the Bucharest protests. He lost the support of the heads of all the branches of his armed forces. As the elites defected, it created a cascade of support for Ceausescu’s opposition, and the soldiers joined forces with the rebellion. They were the ones that fought against the Securitate throughout Romania after Ceausescu left Bucharest. Due to the loss of support from the armed forces, Ceausescu was unable to control the demonstrators, which allowed the new regime to come to power.[31]

Preference Falsification

Preference falsification is when individuals express a different opinion about the regime in public to their actual opinions. This is common in authoritarian regimes, especially Ceausescu’s because of the high level of repression used to control the people, and the cult of personality that Ceausescu built around himself. People were hesitant to criticize the regime because of the fear that they would be punished. Due to the fear instilled in the public, they were unaware of the levels of support that opposition movements would garner. The high level of control that Ceausescu held over people’s lives through the infiltration of the Securitate ensured that very few people were willing to criticize the regime. Kuran theorises that as one person expresses opposition to the regime, more people are willing to express opposition because the cost of opposing the regime becomes less as more people join. People have different thresholds of risk that they are willing cross to publicly support the opposition. As more people oppose the regime, it creates a snowball effect until everyone is expressing publicly what they feel privately. This can be seen in the Romanian revolution. The catalyst that sparked the mass opposition to Ceausescu’s regime was when Laszlo Tokes called for witnesses to his eviction. Even if people were not willing to vocally oppose the regime, some were willing to bear witness to what was happening to Tokes. As people saw that there were also others opposed to Ceausescu’s regime, the risk that they felt for publically joining the opposition decreased. Through the use of television broadcasting, word of the demonstration spread and people felt safer in opposing the regime because of the safety in numbers.[32]

Romania as a Dictatorship
Defining what a dictatorship is hard to do in modern times, Jennifer Gandhi explains it as;
Dictatorships are defined as regimes in which rulers acquire power by means other than competitive elections”. This is a simple definition of what a dictatorship is but if we apply Romania under Ceausescu. It would be defined as being a dictatorship seen as Ceausescu acquired power through being appointed Secretary-General of the RCP by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej on his death bed in 1965 he was elected through a competitive election. Ceausescu did not happen to become president of the whole country until 1967 two years after become the party Secretary-General.
According to Levitsky and Way reading a full democracy must meet four minimum criteria;
1. Executives and legislatures are chosen through elections that are open, free and fair.
- This did not happen in Romania. Top executives within the Romanian Communist Party worked their way to the top, or were appointed by the top officials to their roles within the party. Ceausescu is an example of this himself he worked his way up the ranks of the party to be appointed by the previous leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej before he died as the RCP Secretary-General.
2. Virtually all adults possess the right to vote.
- Romanians did not get the opportunity to vote during Ceausescu’s rule as all power had be consolidated by Ceausescu. Members of the party were internal elevation through the Party ranks and were the only ones that voted. Always keeping Ceausescu as the leader and president. There was no form of public elections and when there were, they were rigged to support the outcome the party wanted.
3. Political rights and civil liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of association, and freedom to criticize the government without reprisal, are broadly protected.
- This also failed in Romania Ceausescu kept all citizens rights repressed there were no social or political groups allowed in Romania. Everything was state controlled but some people were able to pick up Radio Free Europe and BBC, which were illegal. This gave them knowledge as to what was going on in the rest of the world and internally when information could escape also information that was not heavily filtered with propaganda from the government. Ceausescu policed this through fear and the Securitate which was the secret police.
4. Elected authorities possess real authority to govern in that they are not subject to the tutelary control of military or clerical leaders.
- Ceausescu himself possesses all of the power he has total control over all including the military and other members of his government and fellow communist party members. An example of this is with the Defence Minister, General Vasile Milea death. It is unclear whether he was shot, or forced to commit suicide, but Milea died because of Ceausescu’s command. Because of the people that demonstrating against Ceausescu during the revolution.
Following on from the Levitsky and Way the class used these categorise for the classification exercise if we use the same scoring system.
- Suffrage
Before the communism system, there was universal suffrage for those over 18 but once the Soviet Union started to interfere and influence politics, elections were highly rigged and ballots were forged and changed to suit the RCP from then on there were no more elections of such. Giving it a score of 0.
- Elections
Romania had elections but once the RCP got into power, the elections were superficial and only within the party. There was no opposition to contest them as opposition was banned. This gives it a score of 0.
- Civil Rights
All civil rights were repressed and abused under Ceausescu there was no freedom of the press and no right to criticise or gather in groups against the regime. This gives it a score of 0
- Government legitimacy to rule
Ceausescu was not elected by the people he is re-elected by the RCP but there are no other options and he is always re-elected because he has control of the party and everybody supports him so he does not have a legitimate claim to rule the people of Romania. This gives it a score of 0.
These results, which are all zero, give us the conclusion that Ceausescu’s Romania was a complete dictatorship.
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