Joint Party-State Organizations

Joint Party-State Organizations

Joint party-state organizations were an innovation in Romanian political life; the Constitution made no reference to them. Ceausescu used the organizations to increase his authority and minimize the possibility of government action that could challenge the power structure. At the beginning of 1989 there were nine joint party-state organizations. Five of them were headed by either Nicolae or Elena Ceausescu: the Defense Council; the Supreme Council for Economic and Social Development; the National Council for Science and Education; the National Council for Science and Technology; and the National Council of Working People. The remaining party-state organizations were the National Council for Agriculture, Food Industry, Forestry, and Water Management; the Central Council of Workers' Control of Economic and Social Activities; the Economic and Social Organization Council; and the Silviculture Council.

The names of these organizations themselves bespeak the ambiguity and redundancy of their powers. Alongside the existing ministries and other central organizations, three of the joint party-state organizations dealt with economic problems, two with science, two with agriculture and forestry, and two with social problems. The new structures were accountable to both the PCR Central Committee and the Council of Ministers or the State Council. The regional branches of some of the party-state councils were placed under the direct supervision of local party committees.

One of the most important joint party-state organizations and the first to be created (in 1969), the Defense Council had decision-making powers for high-level military affairs. At the inception of the Defense Council, its chairman, Ceausescu, automatically became supreme commander of the armed forces. After 1974 the president of the republic became ex officio chairman of the Defense Council. Some observers considered the creation of the council a move to weaken Ceausescu's opponents in the armed forces.

The membership of the Defense Council reflected its importance. Besides the chairman, other members were the prime minister, the minister of national defense, the minister of interior, the minister of foreign affairs, the chairman of the Department of State Security, the chairman of the State Planning Committee, the chief of staff--who held the position of ex officio secretary--and three other members. Among the members in the late 1980s was General Ilie Ceausescu, the president's brother, who was the chief of the Higher Political Council of the Army and the official historian of the regime.

The Supreme Council for Economic and Social Development, created to supervise development of the national economy and to coordinate social and economic planning, had fourteen sections, which paralleled both the existing ministries and State Planning Committee departments with similar areas of concern. Another joint party-state organization, the Central Council of Workers' Control of Economic and Social Activities had broad authority to make overall economic policy and to ensure plan fulfillment.

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