Despite the fall of Stalinism, Gheorghiu-Dej managed to stay in power. Romania joined the
Warsaw Pact and the UN in 1955. In 1958, the Soviet army withdrew from Romania, which
was a significant achievement of the Romanian authorities.
At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, Dej, interested in the idea of "National Communism"
began to distance himself from the Kremlin's politics. He managed to maintain good relations
with Albania or China despite the deterioration of relations between these countries and the
USSR. In 1963, an amnesty was carried out in the country to authenticate the changes of the
Romanian regime in the eyes of the world. More trade has also been launched with Western
countries and China.
Gheorgi-Dej died in 1965 and was succeeded by Nicolae Ceaușescu, who in international
relations continued the policy of his predecessor. Following the example of Yugoslavia, he
established the country as a neutral country. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Romania was the
only country in the Eastern Bloc to decide to maintain relations with Israel. It also refused to
participate in the 1968 Czechoslovak invasion and Ceaușescu himself delivered a speech
calling on the citizens to defend themselves against possible Soviet aggression against
Romania. It met with a very positive reception in the society: thousands of people registered
with the Patriotic Guards and parties. His policy gained support in the West. In 1984,
Romania along with Congo, China and Yugoslavia, took part in the Olympic Games in Los
Angeles, which were boycotted by the rest of the socialist countries. However, despite often
anti-Soviet gestures, Ceaușescu did not decide to leave the Eastern Bloc.
The dictator created a cult of the individual around him. He was called a "Leader"
(Conducător) and wanted to be seen as the most important figure in the history of Romania.
His wife, Elena, was also promoted as an outstanding world-famous chemist. In March 1974,
Ceaușescu became President and his wife the First Deputy Prime Minister in 1980. She was
considered to be the second most important person in the country. They started to "rebuild"
Romania, e.g. by demolishing several districts of Bucharest to build monumental public
buildings in their place. There was deep nepotism in the country. Relatives of Ceaușescu and
his wife held senior state positions.
Romanian 'national communism' was a dictatorship that violated the rights of citizens, and it
was becoming increasingly difficult to live in the country. Sooner or later it had to cause an
outburst of discontent (despite the relative popularity of the dictator himself).
In August 1977, a miners' strike broke out in the valley of the Jiu River. 35,000 people
protested mainly against raising the retirement age. The protesters were promised that
Ceaușescu himself, who had negotiated with them, would fulfil his demands. However, the
dictator had no intention of meeting their demands. Mass arrests of protesters began, 3 000
miners were displaced to the countryside and some activists just 'disappeared'. Peace was
restored, but public anger grew.
The life situation in Romania was getting worse and worse. In 1983, the country was subject
to food and petrol rationing, and there was a shortage of electricity and hot water. A year later,
in order to reduce electricity consumption, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners were banned.
The next riots began: in 1986, the workers in Cluj and Iaşi were on strike, as well as the
students. Meanwhile, the regime has weakened and has not repressed protesters. However,
when another strike took place in November 1987 in Brasov, it was decided to repress and
arrest numerous people who participated in the protest.