The Romanian revolution that erupted in December, 1989, unlike the Velvet Revolutions that preceded it, was violent. One of the major reasons for the violence was that the Ceausescu regime had been based on an elaborate personality cult, which had become increasingly repressive by the latter part of the 1980s. 1 By then, the Ceausescu clan ruled through nepotism that was euphemistically referred to as "socialism in one family." But it had not only lost its legitimacy among the masses, but also among key elements of the power structure such as the Nomenklatura, the military, and the secret police. The loss of legitimacy could be attributed in part to the Draconian economic policy that Ceausescu pursued in the 1980s, in an obsessive compulsion to pay off the country's foreign debt to the West. As the quality of life deteriorated, a rebellion broke out in the city of Brasov in 1987, which although ruthlessly crushed could be seen as a dress rehearsal for the revolution of 1989.
As was the case in other East European societies, the Gorbachev factor was also important in destabilizing Ceausescu's regime. Ceausescu's regime had been essentially a neo-Stalinist patrimonial regime, which resisted the Gorbachevian model of reform, claiming that it had introduced its own version of reform, known as the New Economic Mechanism, in 1978. However, the New Economic Mechanism did not represent an effort at genuine reform, but rather was a simulated exercise in workers' democracy.