Power in stalinist states: the personality cult of Nicolae Ceausescu

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This study examines the Socialist Republic of Romania as a Stalinist state which employs a personality cult. The leader of a state is the focus of a personality cult, but he does not enjoy the status it gives without consent from elsewhere within the government. In order to determine where this power comes from, three possible sources are discussed. These are: Nicolae Ceausescu, president of Romania; the state bureaucracy; and the people. The Soviet Union, during the time of Stalin, is used as a comparative element. When Nicolae Ceausescu came to power he did so with the consent of the elite. As the Romanian elite are less inclined to support his policies, Ceausescu has had to continually take steps to stay ahead of the opposition. The Romanian people also lent their support to Ceausescu earlier, and have since become discontented with the regime. This study concludes that a leader with a personality cult must have some form of consent to come into power, but his personal characteristics will determine how he leads and whether or not he will be able to remain in power if that consent is withdrawn.