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Period from 1965 to 1970

After becoming PCR first secretary in March 1965, Ceausescu's first challenge was consolidating his power. Posing a major threat to his authority were three of his predecessor's closest associates--Chivu Stoica, a veteran party leader; Gheorghe Apostol, first deputy prime minister and a former PCR first secretary; and Alexandru Draghici, minister of interior and head of the powerful state security apparatus.

A temporary compromise was found in a system of collective leadership with Ceausescu acting as head of the party and Stoica becoming president of the State Council and, as such, head of state. Apostol remained first deputy minister, and Draghici kept the position of minister of interior. Ion Gheorghe Maurer, who had served as prime minister under Gheorghiu-Dej, retained that position. At the same time, changes were made in the party statutes to prevent one man from holding dual party and government offices as Gheorghiu-Dej had done.

At the Ninth Party Congress in July 1965, Ceausescu was able to add a number of supporters to an enlarged PCR Central Committee and to change his title to general secretary. At the same time a new body was added to the party hierarchy--the Executive Committee, which stood between the Standing Presidium and the Central Committee. Although Ceausescu was not able to gain full control of the Executive Committee immediately, in time the new body provided him the means to place his supporters in the leading PCR organs and to implement his own policies.

Political observers identified three principal factions within the PCR during the 1965-67 period: Ceausescu and his supporters; the veteran party men led by Stoica, Apostol, and Draghici; and the intellectuals, represented by Maurer. Those people allied with Ceausescu, who was forty-seven years old when he came to power, tended to be men of his own generation and outlook, and whenever possible he engineered their appointment or promotion into important party, government, and military positions.

One of Ceausescu's foremost concerns was what he termed the vitalization of the PCR. To achieve this end, he not only brought younger people into the top party organs but also sought, for a limited time, to broaden the professional skills represented in those bodies through the recruitment of technicians and academicians. At the same time, he allowed increased technical and scientific contacts with Western nations and lifted the ban on works by certain foreign writers and artists, thereby gaining support among intellectuals.

Data as of July 1989