Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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National Salvation Front won the 1992 elections and Iliescu became the president of the republic. He is still occupying that position.


Almond Mark, The Rise and Fall of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu ( London, 1992); Galloway George, Downfall: The Ceausescus and the Romanian Revolution ( London, 1991); Gilberg Trond, Nationalism and Communism in Romania: The Rise and Fall of Ceausescu fir Personal Dictatorship ( Boulder, CO, 1989); Tismaneanu Vladimir, Personal Power and Elite Change in Romania ( Philadelphia, PA, 1989).

Jiu Valley Strike (1977). The most spectacular action taken against the excesses of the Ceausescu regime occurred in the Jiu Valley. In August 1977, 30,000 miners simply walked out of the mines. They demanded higher wages and other improvements in their living conditions. They refused to talk to any emissaries of the government and demanded to see the leader, Nicolae Ceausescu (see Ceausescu, Nicolae and Elena) himself.

The Conducator was unwilling to oblige than at first. He sent members of the Politburo, Ilie Verdet and Constantin Babalu, the minister of mining, to negotiate with the miners. But the miners at Lupeni pushed Verdet and Babalu into the porter's shack at the mine's entrance, and they had to telephone Bucharest transmitting the miners' demands. For three days, the miners held the officials hostage. They explained to the frightened apparatchiki what would happen to them if the government used force. They also told them that the miners would blow up the mines if Ceausescu tried to force them back to work without fulfilling their demands.

After a standoff of three days, Ceausescu finally gave in and went to talk to the strikers. When he attempted to speak to the miners and their assembled families in the dilapidated soccer field at Lupeni, he was received with catcalls. He spoke, nevertheless, in a way to placate the crowd and recalled his own background as a worker. He announced that the pay cuts that were scheduled--actually, the miners were supposed to work at the same pay for higher work norms--and the rules that would have reduced the pensions of retired miners were all rescinded. He also promised to meet the miners' other demands.

Ceausescu had no intention of fulfilling his promises. After his return to Bucharest, he instructed the managers to keep the new production norms as high as they were set since they were necessary to meet the needs. He also ordered Ilie Verdet to find some way around his other promises.

The miners had actually struck for better living conditions; and they had made no political demands. Nor were they interested in the establishment of a free trade union as were their Polish counterparts were later. Their leader, Costica Dobre, unlike Lech Walesa, lacked the political savvy and natural charisma of a people's tribune. He was talked into leaving the mine by Ceausescu himself, and he let himself be persuaded to follow his own personal interests by attending the Academy Stefan Gheorghe, the


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Dictionary of East European History since 1945
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