"a coup d'etat that took place against the
background of a popular revolt."
Romania, Party insiders were important figures in offering
"alternatives" to the existing, traditional Communist regime. Unlike
Hungary and Bulgaria, however, their influence was far less
progressive, largely because Ceausescu's brand of Stalinism had
suppressed imaginative thinking for so long, along with real
dissent. Romania tolerated no movements like Charter 77 or
Solidarity: the leaders of even minor strikes routinely disappeared.
population had suffered under miserable conditions all through the
1980s, denied basic consumer goods while the foreign debt was
At the same time, ethnic Hungarians
in Transylvania were singled out for second-class treatment.
It was no coincidence that when the crisis broke in December 1989,
it began with state efforts to arrest a Magyar priest in
In that episode,
several people were killed by the Securitate secret police, but
inaccurate rumors abut the massacre of thousands led to a
nation-wide wave of unrest. Ceausescu's efforts to overawe his
critics backfired when he was booed at a mass rally in Bucharest.
Fighting then broke out between street crowds and the Securitate, in
which some 5,000 people were killed and parts of the city destroyed