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Organizational Structure

As the fundamental document of the PCR, the party statutes set basic policy on party organization, operation, and membership. Originally adopted in May 1948, the statutes underwent several modifications, with significant revisions in 1955, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1974, and 1984. Many of these changes strengthened Ceausescu's hold on the party and reduced the role of rank-and- file members.

All organs of the party were closely interrelated and operated on the principle of democratic centralism. (Derived from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, this concept required a firm hierarchical subordination of each party organ to the next higher unit. In practice, party programs and policies were directed from the center and decisions of higher organs were unconditionally binding on all lower organs and on individual members.) The statutes called for the free and open discussion of policy questions at congresses, conferences, and local membership meetings. But discipline required that once a decision was made, the minority fully submitted to the will of the majority.

According to the party statutes, the supreme organ of the PCR was the party congress, consisting of delegates elected by the judet conferences at a ratio of 1 delegate per 1,000 members. The party congress, which convened at least once every five years, elected the PCR general secretary, the Central Committee, and the Central Auditing Commission and discussed and adopted programs and policies proposed by central party organs.

Between congresses the leading party organ was the Central Committee. At the Thirteenth Party Congress in 1984, the Central Committee consisted of 265 full and 181 candidate members--twice as many members as in 1969. The Central Committee was responsible for the overall direction of party activities and the implementation of policies established by the party congress. In addition, it screened nominations for the more important party and state positions. Party statutes required a plenary session of the Central Committee at least four times a year.

Several important changes in the structure of the party leadership were enacted by the Central Committee in March 1974, a few months before the Eleventh Party Congress. The Standing Presidium of the Central Committee, whose members were the most influential individuals in the party, was abolished and replaced by the Political Executive Committee ( Polexco--see Glossary) Permanent Bureau. Although formally the Central Committee elected the leading party organs, in practice the Polexco Permanent Bureau was a selfperpetuating body, and any change in its membership or in that of the Secretariat was generated from within rather than through a democratic decision by the Central Committee. The Secretariat, most of whose members were full or candidate members of the Polexco, had responsibility for overseeing the implementation of party decisions. As general secretary of the party, Ceausescu headed both the Polexco Permanent Bureau and the Secretariat and chaired the Polexco.

The Central Committee was backed by an extensive bureaucratic structure that in many instances paralleled the organization of the government ministries. A chancellery office, headed by a chief and three deputies, coordinated the committee's overall administrative activities. Party work was organized under several permanent sections, which were typically headed by a supervisory secretary, and a number of administrative sections and functional commissions. The designations of the sections were agriculture, armed forces and security forces, cadre, culture and education, economic affairs, foreign relations, letters and audiences, local economic administration, organization, party affairs, propaganda and media, social problems, and administration.

In 1989 the following commissions were directly tied to the Central Committee: the Party and State Cadres Commission; the Ideology, Political and Cultural Activities, and Social Education Commission; the Party Organization and Mass and Public Organization Commission; and the Economic Cooperation and International Relations Commission. Most of these commissions appeared redundant, addressing problems within the purview of the Central Committee sections, various joint party-state organizations, and the ministries.

As the center for decision-making and policy control, the Polexco Permanent Bureau was the most powerful body in the country. Established in 1974, the Permanent Bureau went through several stages. Initially it consisted of five members, but after the Twelfth Party Congress in 1979, it expanded to fifteen members. In 1984, however, it was reduced to eight members, including Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, and in June 1988 it had only seven members. Most observers agreed that in fact the decision-making process was limited to the Ceausescus and their most trusted allies, not all of whom held positions in the Permanent Bureau, the Polexco, or the Secretariat.

Little information was available on the responsibilities of the Polexco, although some observers regarded it as an administrative link between the Permanent Bureau and the Central Committee. In practice, it functioned as a rump Central Committee when the latter was not in session. The Secretariat served as the continuing administrative unit of the party. It supervised the execution of policies decreed by the Permanent Bureau.

Two other important party organs functioned under the supervision of the Permanent Bureau and the Secretariat: the Central Auditing Commission and the Central Collegium, formerly known as the Party Control Commission. Consisting of seventy-three members (none of whom could belong to the Central Committee), the Central Auditing Commission was empowered to exercise general control over party financial affairs and examine the management of finances by the various party organs. During the 1980s, the commission literally became a place of exile for officials who had fallen out of favor. The twenty-two-member Central Collegium dealt with matters of party discipline and served as a type of appeals court for penalties imposed on members by judet or local party committees.

An interlocking of authority and functions at the highest level of the party and state was evidenced in the frequency with which the senior party officials also held important government posts. In the late 1980s, all the members of the Polexco Permanent Bureau, the Polexco, and the Secretariat were GNA deputies, and most of them held prominent positions in the State Council, the Defense Council, or the Council of Ministers.

The party statutes described the basic party organization as the foundation of the party. Basic party organizations existed in factories, offices, cooperatives, military and police units, social and cultural organizations, and residential areas. Some of the party units consisted of a few members, whereas those in the larger enterprises could have as many as 300 members. In 1980 there were an estimated 64,200 basic party organizations.

The local and occupational basic party organizations implemented party directives and programs, recruited and indoctrinated new members, and disseminated propaganda directed at those outside the party. Members had the duty to participate in social, economic, and cultural activities, particularly those associated with economic enterprises, and to examine critically production and community life in the light of party ideology and goals. In all their activities, the local party units were required to uphold the discipline of the party and to adhere to the policies established by the ruling bodies of the PCR.

Between the basic party organizations and the higher organs of the PCR stood a hierarchy of party committees organized on the judet, town, and communal levels. Each of these units was directly subordinate to the next higher level of the party organization. Each party committee set up its own bureau and elected a secretariat. In most cases the secretariat consisted of a first secretary, a first vice-chairman, and three or more vicechairmen or secretaries.

The activity of the bureau was conducted through several functional departments, which generally consisted of sections on personnel, administration, agitation and propaganda, economic enterprises, youth, and women's affairs. The judet and city committee also had their own control commission and training programs. The first secretary of the judet committee served as chairman of the judet people's council, linking the party and government offices.

At each of these levels--judet, city, town, and commune--the highest authoritative organ was the party conference, which played a role similar to that of the party congress on the national level. The party statutes called for the convening of conferences every five years in the judete, in the city of Bucharest, and in the larger towns. In communes and smaller towns the conference was held every two years. Although the conferences were held ostensibly to discuss problems and formulate policies, they served in practice as transmission belts for the official party line set down by the central PCR authorities. Judet conferences and the Bucharest city conference elected candidates to the national party Congress.

Data as of July 1989

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