The Romanian Communist Party (Romanian: Partidul Comunist Român, PCR) was a communist party in Romania. Successor to the Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party of Romania, it gave ideological endorsement to communist revolution and the disestablishment of Greater Romania. The PCR was a minor and illegal grouping for much of the interwar period, and submitted to direct Comintern control. During the 1930s, most of its activists were imprisoned or took refuge in the Soviet Union, which led to the creation of separate and competing factions until the 1950s. The Communist Party emerged as a powerful actor on the Romanian political scene in August 1944, when it became involved in the royal coup that toppled the pro-Nazi government of Ion Antonescu. With support from Soviet occupation forces, the PCR was able to force King Michael I into exile, and establish undisguised Communist rule in 1948. From then until 1989, it was for all intents and purposes the only legally permitted party in the country.
In 1947, the Communist Party absorbed much of the Social Democratic Party, while attracting various new members. In the early 1950s, the PCR's dominant wing around Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, with support from Joseph Stalin, defeated all the other factions and achieved full control over the party and country. After 1953, the Romanian Communists gradually theorized a "national path" to Communism. At the same time, however, the party did not join its Warsaw Pact brethren in de-Stalinization.
From the moment it came to power and until Stalin's death, as the Cold War erupted, the PMR endorsed Soviet requirements for the Eastern Bloc. Aligning the country with the Cominform, it officially condemned Josip Broz Tito's independent actions in Yugoslavia; Tito was routinely attacked by the official press, and the Romanian-Yugoslav Danube border became the scene of massive agitprop displays (see Tito-Stalin split and Informbiro).
Gheorghiu-Dej and de-Stalinization
Uncomfortable and possibly threatened by the reformist measures adopted by Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, Gheorghiu-Dej began to steer Romania towards a more "independent" path while remaining within the Soviet orbit during the late 1950s. Following the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in which Khurshchev initiated De-Stalinization, Gheorghiu-Dej issued propaganda accusing Pauker, Luca and Georgescu of having been an arch-Stalinists responsible for the party's excesses in the late 1940s and early 1950s (notably, in regard to collectivization)—despite the fact that they had occasionally opposed a number of radical measures advocated by the General Secretary. After that purge, Gheorghiu-Dej had begun promoting PMR activists who were perceived as more loyal to his own political views; among them were Nicolae Ceauşescu,] Gheorghe Stoica, Ghizela Vass, Grigore Preoteasa, Alexandru Bârlădeanu, Ion Gheorghe Maurer, Gheorghe Gaston Marin, Paul Niculescu-Mizil, and Gheorghe Rădulescu; in parallel, citing Khrushchevite precedents, the PMR briefly reorganized its leadership on a plural basis (1954–1955), while Gheorghiu-Dej reshaped party doctrine to include ambiguous messages about Stalin's legacy (insisting on the defunct Soviet's leader contribution to Marxist thought, official documents also deplored his personality cult and encouraged Stalinists to self-criticism).
In this context, the PMR soon dismissed all the relevant consequences of the Twentieth Soviet Congress, and Gheorghiu-Dej even argued that De-Stalinization had been imposed by his team right after 1952. At a party meeting in March 1956, two members of the Politburo who were supporters of Khruschevite reforms, Miron Constantinescu and Iosif Chişinevschi, criticized Gheorghiu-Dej's leadership and identified him with Romanian Stalinism. They were purged in 1957, themselves accused of being Stalinists and of having been plotting with Pauker. Through Ceaușescu's voice, Gheorghiu-Dej also marginalized another group of old members of the PMR, associated with Constantin Doncea (June 1958).
On the outside too, the PMR, leading a country that had joined the Warsaw Pact, remained an agent of political repression: it fully supported Khurshchev's invasion of Hungary in response to the Revolution of 1956, after which Imre Nagy and other dissident Hungarian leaders were imprisoned on Romanian soil. The Hungarian rebellion also sparked student protests in such places as Bucharest, Timișoara, Oradea, Cluj and Iași, which contributed to unease inside the PMR and resulted in a wave of arrests. While refusing to allow dissemination of Soviet literature exposing Stalinism (writers such as Ilya Ehrenburg and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn), Romanian leaders took active part in the campaign against Boris Pasternak.
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