Romania History: Ceausescu and the “Socialist Republic”


In March 1945 the government was placed in the hands of P. Groza, exponent of the Peasant Party, ally of the Communists, who obtained the key ministries; in the following months crucial reforms were approved such as the agrarian and electoral reforms which gave the vote to women. Between 1946 and 1947 the Communist Party, also through maneuvered elections, “mergers” imposed on other parties, and the (often physical) elimination of characters compromised with the old fascist regime, ended up remaining the sole holder of power, leaving isolated and on the edge the king. On December 30, 1947 Michael abdicated and the People’s Republic was proclaimed, which proceeded to a series of important nationalizations and, after a few months, to a new collectivist reform in the countryside. In 1948, with the support of the government, the Orthodox Patriarch Justinian imposed the unification under his banner of the Uniate Greek-Catholic Church, especially strong in the north of the country.

After a period of infighting between different currents within the Communist Party, culminating in the approval of a new Constitution (September 1952), he came to power G. Gheorghiu-Dej who prepared the five-year plans of 1951-60, launched the agrarian reform and joined the Warsaw Pact (1955); however, he did not want to follow the thaw process initiated in the USSR by N. Khrušcev, maintaining a rigidly Stalinist regime in Romania and taking the front line, in the autumn of 1956, to urge a Soviet military intervention that would crush the democratic revolt in neighboring Hungary. Precisely with the Hungarian leaders, before and after ’56, Gheorghiu-Dej always maintained rather tense relations, due to the unresolved question of Transylvania and the strong Magyar minority that continued to live there. In 1965 Gheorghiu-Dej was succeeded by N. Ceausescu as general secretary of the Communist Party. After a period in which he shared power with Prime Minister G. Maurer and the President of the Council of State C. Stoica, he also became President of the Republic in 1967. From that moment Romania – which became the first “Socialist Republic” among the Eastern States – strengthened its autonomy from Moscow. In internal politics there was an initial, moderate liberalizing push, which in 1968 also found an international sanction with Bucharest’s refusal to support the invasion of Czechoslovakia. On the contrary, during the Eighties the Ceausescu regime, while remaining the least aligned of the Eastern countries, moved in the opposite direction to that of the previous decade: to settle the accounts of the national economy and obtain loans from international institutions to an extremely rigid austerity policy, which dramatically affected the standard of living of the population; this was accompanied by the ruthless repression of dissent, the systematic violation of human rights (in particular of the Hungarian minority, forced to deportation) and the clear rejection of the reformist tendencies initiated by the Soviet perestroika of M. Gorbachev These positions led to the freezing of diplomatic relations with the West on several occasions. This situation first produced the emergence of some dissensions in the state apparatus itself, expressed in March 1989 by some former senior leaders and anonymously during the party congress in November, then caused a revolt in the city of Timisoara to explode in mid-December. where a large crowd of Hungarian and Romanian nationalities had gathered in defense of a well-known dissident, pastor of the Protestant Church, who had been persecuted for some time.

According to globalsciencellc, the brutal repression that followed triggered an insurrectionary movement that quickly spread to other centers of the country, reaching as far as the capital where on December 21 a large demonstration called in support of Ceausescu turned into a violent protest against the leader. forced to flee. In the following hours the regime split. The army refused to intervene against the population and instead took up their defense against the Securitate, secret police loyal to the president who stood out for brutality: the fight lasted for a few days causing the death of approx. 1000 people. The resistance of the Securitate only ceased with the execution of Ceausescu and his wife, captured while trying to take refuge abroad undercover and shot after a summary trial on 25 December. The following day, power was assumed by a Committee expressed by the National Salvation Front (FSN), under the leadership of Ion Iliescu., formerly a senior executive who fell from grace; in a subordinate position was placed a government headed by Petre Roman, son of a prominent Communist exponent and national leader of the FSN. When the single party was dissolved, in the early months of 1990 the structures and programs of the previous regime were dismantled: however, friction soon arose between the newly formed parties and the FSN, which was charged with excessive continuity with the past (in fact, there were many its members formerly belonging to the Communist nomenclature).