Mass Organizations

Mass Organizations

The PCR fostered the development of a large number of mass organizations that functioned as its auxiliaries. These included traditional mass organizations (youth, labor, and women's organizations) and new types of political mass organizations such as the National Council of Working People. Mass organizations representing major ethnic groups also emerged.

Citizens were constitutionally guaranteed the right to join together in organizations. At the same time, the Constitution defined the leading role of the party in relation to the mass organizations, asserting that through such organizations the PCR "achieves an organized link with the working class, the peasantry, the intelligentsia, and other categories of working people and mobilizes them in the struggle for the completion of the building of socialism."

There were two broad classes of mass organizations: those based on common interests and categories of persons, such as youth and women's associations; and those based on professions, such as the General Union of Trade Unions (Uniunea Generala (Generala) a Sindicatelor din Romānia, UGSR). Several of the groups belonged to international organizations and associations, such as the World Federation of Trade Unions and the World Federation of Democratic Youth.

In November 1968, the Council of Working People of Hungarian Nationality and the Council of Working People of German Nationality were established. The former had units in fifteen judete, and the latter was active in nine. In judete with substantial Serbian or Ukrainian populations, local councils were established for these groups. The nationality councils were affiliated with the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front.

The purpose of the nationality councils, Ceausescu declared, was to "cultivate socialist patriotism, socialist internationalism, and devotion to our new order and to the common fatherland . . . against any backward nationalistic concepts and manifestations." Although the councils facilitated communication between the PCR and ethnic groups, they functioned primarily as transmitters of official nationality policies. During the 1980s, the councils served as a forum for expressing Romanian nationalism in the prolonged dispute with neighboring Hungary on the question of minority rights in Transylvania.

Union of Communist Youth

Founded in 1949, the Union of Communist Youth (Uniunea Tineretului Comunist-- UTC) was modelled after Komsomol (the Soviet communist youth organization). Having essentially the same organizational structure as the PCR, the UTC was both a youth political party and a mass organization. Its mission was to educate young people in the spirit of communism and mobilize them, under the guidance of the PCR, for the building of socialism. The UTC organized political and patriotic courses in schools, among peasant groups, and among workers and members of the armed forces. It also guided and supervised the activities of the Union of Communist Student Associations.

In the 1980s, the UTC remained one of the most powerful mass organizations in the country, having a membership of some 3.7 million in 1984 compared with 2.5 million in early 1972. Membership was open to persons between the ages of fifteen and twenty-six; UTC members over eighteen could also become members of the PCR. The Tenth Party Congress in 1969 introduced the requirement that applicants under the age of twenty-six would be accepted into the party only if they were UTC members.

The structure of the UTC underwent a number of changes in the decades following its creation. In early 1984, the organization functioned on the national level with an eight-member Secretariat, including the first secretary, who was also the UTC chairman, and a bureau of twenty-one full and ten candidate members. The first secretary of the UTC also held the position of minister of youth. In the late 1980s, Ceausescu's son, Nicu, functioned as UTC first secretary. In each of the forty judete and the city of Bucharest, UTC committees were patterned after the national-level organization. The UTC had its own publishing facilities and published its own propaganda organ, Scinteia Tineretului (The Spark of Youth).

A second youth movement, the Pioneers, was created for young people between the ages of nine and fourteen. The organization's responsibilities paralleled those of the UTC and involved political and patriotic training. Until 1966 the Pioneers functioned as an integral part of the UTC, but thereafter it was under the direct control of the party Central Committee.

General Union of Trade Unions

As the official organization representing all blue- and whitecollar workers, the General Union of Trade Unions of Romamian (Uniunea Generala Sindicatelor din Romānia-- UGSR) was the largest of the country's mass organizations, with a membership of 7.3 million in 1985. Headed by a Central Council, the UGSR consisted of eleven labor union federations and forty-one area councils, one for each judet and the city of Bucharest. The Central Council had a chairman, appointed by the PCR Central Committee, eight vice chairmen, two secretaries, and an executive committee of forty-eight members. In the late 1980s, there were an estimated 12,000 local union units.

The primary function of the labor unions was the transmission of party policies to the rank and file. The UGSR statutes specified that the organization would conduct its activities under the political leadership of the PCR; a similar provision was included in the statutes of the judet UGSR committees. In early 1971, in the aftermath of increased labor problems, the PCR took steps to reform the labor union organization. Proclaiming a democratization of the UGSR and its component unions, Ceausescu promised workers protection of their interests and a voice in the appointment of industrial management. According to Ceausescu, democratization meant that the labor unions would serve the party as a framework for organizing consultations with the masses and as a forum where workers could debate the country's economic and social development. But UGSR statutes introduced later that year failed to reform the system, and labor unions were still unable to take the initiative in matters of wages and the standard of living.

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