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LOCAL POLITICAL POST COMMUNIST ELITE: REPRODUCTION OR CIRCULATION OF ELITE?

STUDY
CASE: RMNICU VLCEA MUNICIPALITY.

INTRODUCTION
The democratization processes across Europe, either after the Second World War (e.g. West
Germany, Italy) or after the fall of communism (e.g. Central and Eastern European countries), have
placed the new political elites in a delicate position in which the arrangements selected should have
impeded the restoration of authoritarianism or totalitarianism and ensure the unproblematic consolidation
of democracy. As Krouwel and Verbeek argue, it is not an easy task when power is widely dispersed and
organizations such as weak political parties, bureaucracies are still filled with incompetent and corrupt
bureaucrats it is hard to deliver the goods of government. 1 There is no doubt that political elites are an
important factor for the democratization process 2. This aspect can be confirmed in post communist
Eastern Europe, which represents an interesting field of investigation regarding the emergence of the new
political elite structure and the transformation of the communist one.
Consequently, the present research explores the conversion of local communist elite in Romania
during 1989-1992, in order to see if the existing specialized literature on the issue of conversion and
reconfiguration of national communist elite can be applied at local level. Moreover, it deals with a
thorough analysis of the elite reproduction and circulation theories, which detects a particular
tendency in the Romanian local elite case. The wealth of evidence derived from this enterprise brings to
the fore new issues to be tackled, new actors whose behaviour explains the present reality and solutions
which could demonstrate their viability.
After almost forty years of communist rule, a clean break with the past was apparently
unavoidable in Romania. As such, Romania underwent a violent and bloody revolution (1989), the
democratic transition being commenced by a reformed ex-nomenklatura without any intent to perform
a transitional justice, the equivalent of a fresh new start. Unlike the other post communist countries,
where the transitions have been negotiated, in Romania does not exist, within the party elite, no
enlightened faction oriented to reforms and to negotiate the transition 3. Therefore, the power vacuum
that followed the 1989 events was filled with former communist party elite, who claimed revolutionary
legitimacy, justifying the concept of captured revolution 4.
Therefore, the interest in a systematic investigation regarding Romanian local political elites was
driven by the fact that few empirical studies were carried out on this field. In this context, an examination
of reproduction /circulation of elites at the local level might identify certain characteristics of the new
Romanian post communist political elite. The relevance of this study for the area of research resides in the
possibility to generate additional knowledge further to be employed in a larger research or in a
multidisciplinary framework.
Because of the vast area of investigation, this paper analyses one local community, namely
Rmnicu Vlcea municipality. The choice of this case was determined not only by a high degree of
familiarity with the specifics of this town, but also due to its relevance for the theme. As such, the purpose
of the research is to present a comprehensive account of local political communist elite conversion in the
1

A. Krouwel, B. Verbeek, Institutions as battleground. Democratic implications of initial institution building in post-communist
regimes, In: J. Miklaszewska, (editor), Democracy in Central Europe 1989-99, (Krakow: Meritium, 1999), 335.
2
John Higley, Jan Pakulski, Wlodimierz Wesolowski,Introduction: Elite change and democratic regimes in Eastern Europe, in
John Higley, Pakulski Jan, Wesolowski Wlodimiers (eds.), Postcommunist Elites and Democracy in Eastern Europe, (London,
1998), 1-33.
3
Vladimir Tismneanu, Stalinism pentru eternitate. O istorie politic a comunismului romnesc, (Iai, Polirom, 2005), 269.
4
Juan J. Linz, Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and
Post-Communist Europe, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 345.

country under discussion. Although the 1989 events appeared to be a break-up of the old social and
political hierarchies, the former local communist elite preserved an important degree of political power
and succeeded in dominating the decision-making process within the provisional local institutions created
in the very moment of the revolution.
The present study has three main sections. The first one provides a theoretical perspective
concerning the concepts of political elite, local political elite, elite reproduction and circulation theory.
The second part presents and interprets the data, from several illustrative national studies, on the
continuity of the communist elites from national level between 1989 and 1992. The last section is the
actual study case on the local post communist elite from Rmnicu Vlcea municipality, for the same
period.
RESEARCH QUESTION AND HYPOTHESIS
In this context, the research question that arises is to what extent the conversion of local
communist elite influenced the emergence of the new elite? There are at least two reasons why this
question is relevant. First, there is a theoretical and scientific stake which is important in order to
understand this subject. Thus, the research investigates the extent to which the current local elites belong
to the old nomenclature. Second, there is a conceptual stake, as this study tries to determine the
relationship between the communist local elites and the post communist ones.
This inquiry leads to the following working hypothesis standing at the basis of this study: the old
networks of the Communist Party continued to serve the base for the recruitment of the new elite . In order
to validate this hypothesis, there is realized an examination of the dynamics of local communist elite
reproduction between December 1989 and 1992 (when the first post communist local elections were held
in Romania), a period which set up the new post communist elites in Romania. However, the analysis of
mechanisms of post communist elite formation in a former communist country implies a return to the
communist sociology, to the extent that the actual elites power and success is rooted in those of the past.
METHODOLOGICAL DESIGN
To serve the objective of this research, the methodological tools employed attend to the
requirements of a qualitative study, with a limited use of quantitative data meant to support the arguments
and observations drawn throughout the paper. Basically, the research unfolds as a cross-national analysis
at the micro-political level centered on local structures of political power, following the deductive
approach. The unit of analysis is the Rmnicu Vlcea municipality.
Inferences about the communist elite transformation after 1989 revolution demand an in-depth
analysis at the local level in order to uncover strengths, weaknesses and possible solutions to endemic
problems, as well as relevant answers to contemporary debates.
Despite the shortcomings, the present research aims at developing a coherent argument based on
empirical observation derived from a variety of sources at hand. The methods chosen are qualitative
content analysis and secondary analysis of statistics and data collected by other researchers. The primary
sources consist, at large, of official documents from 1989-1992 from the city hall archive, local
legislation, mass media outputs, virtual outputs, and data from the Countys Agency of National Archives.
Regarding the secondary sources, it covers volumes and studies published in volumes and academic
articles. The local political elite from Rmnicu Vlcea are represented by mayors, local councils and
presidents of the County Council between 1989 1992.
Unfortunately, due to various constraints, this paper could not employ more efficient research
methods such as in-depth interviews or direct observation. Nevertheless, the methodological choices have
produced thought-provoking outcomes, which are to be given credit when assessing the transformation of
local communist elite, in general. The challenges concerning the validity of the conclusions are related to
the potential errors presented in the data and the danger posed by bias, which can hardly be reduced to the
minimum under these circumstances.
2

THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE
The concept of political elite has its origin in the works of Gaetano Mosca, based on the uneven
distribution of power in society5. Nevertheless, Zuckerman faces difficulties in defining, explaining this
conceptual term, because the attention was directed toward identifying these type of elite and not defining
them6. In the view of Laswell Harold the political elite comprises the power holders of a body politic. In
this category is included leadership and social formations from where the leaders usually come from and
where accountability is maintained within a generation 7. They are at the command of hierarchies and
major organizations of modern societies. For Geoffrey Roberts an elite exercising political influence is
called ruling elite, or the political elite.
Taking into consideration these definitions of the concept, political elite can be defined as a
category which has more power than others, and which directly influences the political actions and
decisions. This interpretation takes into account the senators, deputies, members of the government and
presidency. In institutional and organizational terms, political elites are persons who influence societal
decision-making regularly and substantially, due to their positions in the local administration.8 Therefore,
included in the elite are individuals whose decisions affect the everyday life of important segments of the
community, and whose views and stances are likely to be taken into account by other influential political
actors.
A society in transition can be characterized as generating a new political class, and a plurality
of political parties with different ideological and political programs.9 The sequence of political regimes is
flanked by the sequence of minorities, who hold social and political functions of conflict arbitration
between different interest groups which competition or cooperation between individuals 10.
To continue with, there are two theoretical perspectives which this study employs. On one hand
there is the reproduction elite theory during the transition and on the other hand the circulation elite
theory. The first theory, formulated by Jadwiga Staniszkis 11 and Elemer Hankiss12, sustained the idea of a
general reproduction of the communist elites by the conversion of the political capital into the economic
one. According to them, the old political elite transform it into a new capitalist bourgeoisie by using the
power of their offices and their social connection to accumulate economic assets. Both authors argue that
in the aftermath of the collapse of communist institutional structure, members of the nomenklatura were
able to use their political influence to accumulate wealth. These members have metamorphosed into
private capitalists due to the fact that their positional power has allowed them to appropriate productive
assets and because the social networks of which they were members has provided them with advantages
in emergent markets13.
There is another opposing image of elite reproduction advanced by Erzsebet Szalai, who focuses
on the division of the old elite into two groups. These groups are the old bureaucrats recruited into

Alan Zuckerman, The Concept <Political Elite>: Lessons from Mosca and Pareto, The Journal of Politics, 39 (1977): 324325.
6
Zuckerman, Concept.., 324-325.
7
Zuckerman, Concept.., 324-325.
8
Marius Tudor, Adrian Gavrilescu, Elita politic n Romania postcomunis, (Compania, Bucureti, 2002), 177-178.
9
Ctlin Zamfir, O analiz critic a tranziiei, (Polirom, 2004), 101
10
Gabriel Ivan, Noua clas politic, in Sfera Politicii, 4 (1993): 16-17.
11
Jadwiga Staniszkis, The Dynamics of the Breakthrough in Eastern Europe, ( Berkeley-Los Angeles-Oxford: University of
California Press, 1991).
12
Elemer Hankiss, East European Alternatives, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990).
13
Eric Hanley et. al, The making of post-communist elites in Eastern Europe, Working papers of the research project social
Trends, 4 (1998): 4-5.

positions of power on the basis of political loyalty and the young technocrats recruited on the basis of
technical competence14.
In 1993 a comparative study of elite recruitment in four post-communist countries (Russia,
Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) was conducted by Ivan Szeleny and Donald Treiman 15. The results did not
confirm a massive reproduction of communist elites within the post-communist power structure and
infirmed the predictions of Hankiss and Staniszkis. After 1989, a part of the members of this group could
be found in the new economic and political elite, and another part was stopped in 1989 to accede in
institutional power structures. Therefore, excepting Russia, there was no reproduction of elites, but more a
circulation.
Starting from this assumption, Gil Eyal, Ivan Szeleny and Eleonor Townsley formulated the
circulation elite theory, the second theoretical point of view of this study. According to this, the former
nomenklatura did not succeed in transforming into strong post communist elite who could rule the
society16. The new elites are formed by people who converted their cultural capital into a economic and
political one.
The theory of elite reproduction holds that changes in Eastern and Central Europe did not have an
impact on the composition of elites, since the members of the nomeklatura was able to stay at the top of
the power structures and become the new elite, whereas, the theory of elite circulation the key positions
are occupied by new people on the basis of new principles 17.
This discussion of elite reproduction and circulation points toward the national dimension, and
the local dimension was not addressed in-depth in theories of elite reproduction and circulation. And in a
post communist decentralized society, for example Romania, the local level represents an important
element for democratization and modernization.
After the collapse of the communist regime, Ken Jowitt had argued: whatever the result of the
current turmoil in Eastern Europe, one thing is clear: the new institutional patterns will be shaped by the
inheritance and legacy of forty years of Leninist rule. 18 He observes the existence of some tensions
caused by the absence of recognized successor elite. According to his point of view, the recognized elite is
the one who accepts the legitimate role of all its members in the society, regardless of the party and
ideology embraced19. Because of the way in which the regime change took place, the researcher noted the
prominent role played by the Leninist personnel in the economic, administrative and politic sector in the
Balkans space.

COMMUNIST ELITE CONTINUITY AT NATIONAL LEVEL

14

Erzsebet Szalai, The power structure in Hungary after the political transition, in Christopher G.A. Bryant and Edmund
Mokrzcki (eds.), The new great transformation? Change and continuity in East-Central Europe, (London: Routledge, 1994)
15
Ken Jowitt, New World Disorder. The leninist extinction, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992),
294.
16
Gyl Eyal, Ivan Szeleny, Eleonor Townsley, Making Capitalism without capitalists: The New Ruling Elites in Eastern Europe,
(Romanian Edition: Omega Press, 2001).
17
Ivan Szelenyi, Szonja Szelenyi. The Circulation or Reproduction of Elites during the Post-Communist Transformation: An
Introduction. Forthcoming in Theory and Society, (1995): 616.
18
Jowitt, New, 285.
19
Jowitt, New, 285.

In the view of sociologists, social crises and revolutions can be caused or hastened by conflicts
within the power elite and the rivalries between elites. The analysis of the role of elites in the replacement
and transformation of the communist system in Romania, the following elements are important: the
national elite structure before changing, the role of elites during revolution and crystallization of new
power elite after the change. The national character of social structure and political culture should also be
considered as an external factor in this change 20.
In the chaotic state of affairs surrounding the 1989 events, the so-called vacuum of power was
instantly filled with ex-members of the Communist elite that claimed revolutionary legitimacy, thus
justifying the widely used concept of captured revolution 21, and intended the safeguard of the integrity
and functionality of state institutions be them administrative, economic or repressive. 22 More precisely,
in Alexandru Gussis words: The power instated immediately after December 22, 1989 was the
expression of a type of conversion undergone by the former communist elite, which adopted the prodemocratic revolutionary image imposed by the fall of the communist regime, and which was later to
bring arguments for a policy of forgetting.23
Given this continuity of elites, the political, socio-economic and cultural nationalism remained a
past induced feature of the new democratic political class. In the absence of a decommunization
process, the political discourses of the early 1990s were primarily anti-communist and nation-oriented.
From top to bottom, the role of personalities was undeniable, being reinforced by the low developed
institutional and doctrinal identity of the political parties. 24 Some of the figures that dominated the
political arena owed their popularity to the participation in the December Revolution, others were placed
either in the technical intelligentsia camp or that of the intellectuals, being individuals with high levels of
expertise and achievements, perceived as part of the new democratic elite. However, certain elements
similar to the previous regime have survived, Frank Sellin even denouncing a post-communist
patrimonialism defined through particular aspects: (a) a leader generally recognized as the first and
foremost political authority; (b) the development of a personal staff of the leader and a coercive apparatus
appointed on the basis of loyalty encouraging nepotism and clientelism; (c) the vagueness of the
boundaries between public and private property, to the benefit of the ruling elites; (d) a self-organizing
society mirroring the patron-client relations existent at the top of the pyramid of power; (e) large and
inefficient state bureaucracy, divided between different interests; (f) the promotion of charismatic
elements specific to the communist regime (e.g. cults of personality, control of the mass media). 25 This
particular evolution is confirmed by Daniel Barbu, who outlines the implicit aims of the drafters of the
1991 Constitution: The Constitution of December 1991 is conceived so as to ensure the continuity of the
State and of the former elite, who had already learned how to govern it, and not to facilitate the
development of a political function within the Romanian society, thus preventing the emergence of a
different type of elite.26 In such a context, the unhealthy rule of law, the pervasive corruption and the
slow pace of economic and social reforms come as no surprise in a political system where the former
nomenklatura were the winners of transition.
One of the last legacies to be discussed is the type of bureaucracy the Ceausescu regime
managed to build. The enlarged bureaucratic apparatus, specific to a communist state, was a powerful tool
20

Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Revoluia neterminat, ( Bucharest: Fundaia Culturala Romna, 1999), 61-62.
Linz, Problems, 345.
22
Alexandra Ionescu, The Short Communisms Journey into Democracy. An appraisal of Romanian Democratization, Studia
Politica. Romanian Political Science Review, 3, (Bucuresti: Nemira, 2009): 395.
23
Alexandru Gussi, The Ex-Communists Policy of Forgetting in Romania after 1990, Studia Politica. Romanian Political
Science Review, Vol. IX, 2 (Bucuresti: Editura Nemira, 2009): 275-276.
24
Gussi, The Ex-Communists, 276.
25
Frank Sellin, Democratization in the Shadows: Post-Communist Patrimonialism, In: Henry F. CAREY, (editor), Romania
since 1989. Politics, Economics, and Society, (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Oxford: Lexington Books, 2004), 117- 136,
118-119.
26
Daniel Barbu, Republica absenta, (Bucuresti: Editura Nemira, 1999), 126-127.
21

in the hands of the omnipotent dictator in charge of the administration and control of a vast domain. In a
noteworthy review of communist legacies, Trond Gilbergs remarks regarding the bureaucratic system are
worth quoting: Perhaps the most debilitating legacy of all stems from the way in which the Ceausescu
clan, a relatively small and homogeneous group at the top, spread its tentacles throughout all of the
Romanian society with a vice grip on the process of appointment to public office, overlapping
memberships, and interlocking dictatorships.27
Not only did the post-communist version of bureaucracy suffer from continuity in terms of
personnel, but probably even more damaging to the new democracy, from bureaucratic routines
established within the collaboration state-society. The politicized, inefficient and overloaded bureaucratic
system comes as no surprise, given the fact that the level of political influence is still high, the rules are
overlooked and the procedures are excessively complicated, whereas the numbers of employees is often
the result of artificially created positions.
In post communist Romania political elites were recruited especially among young technocrats
and members of the nomenklatura of the 80s, raised in the spirit of perestroika under the protective wing
of the communist regime. The Romania post communist political elite reproduced on a capitalist society
marked by weak ethics and compliant to a provincial mechanism of perpetuation. Belonging to the former
nomenkaltura was a negative element for representatives who had access to the decision making. The
political survival 28 of a part of the nomenklatura and its influence on the strategic decision making
level, gives balance of forces within the political class features. Accordingly, in the aftermath of the
revolution the Romania political class was more conservative than in other post communist countries and
hostage to authoritarian ideological clichs 29. These elements are defining as they have put their mark
on the decisions and solutions taken during political debates and events.
In the former nomenklatura, the individuals were not recruited on profesional grounds, but
through creating a permanent subordination to superior posts 30. Immediately after 1989, the communist
Party and ideology were not explicitly mentioned in the public discourse or condamned. Romania
Communist Party practly dissappeared from the political scene, without its formal dissolution to take
place and without involving a downgrading of the former communist members outside the close circle of
Nicolae Ceausescu. Under these circumstances, numerous political organisations have been constituted
around different political personalities who have occupied important functions in the communist
structures. Affiliating with the elites not involved in the political life, former members of the nomeklatura
have consolidated these political parties winning significant percentages in elections, imposeing a
significant number of members of parliament and government in the post communist era. The most
important political parties were: National Slavation Front, Great Romania Party, Socialist Labour Party,
National Unity Party from Romania, The Agrarian Democrat Party from Romania and Hungarian
Democrat Union from Romania. 31
In a recent empirical analysis of the political class realized immediately after 1989, findings were
more or less contested. In what concerns the average age of the political elite in Romania, is emphasized
the limited number of young people who have access to leadership positions. Moreover, there was a trend
of male monopoly on power. The system of selection, of recruitment of the ruling class, the social
background and environment act as essential elements of the proposed voter picture: about 80% of those
analyzed were from rural areas. Almost all of them had residence in Bucharest. 32
27

Trond Gilberg, Nationalism and communism in Romania: the rise and fall of Ceausescus Personal Dictatorship, Boulder,
(San Francisco, Oxford :Westview Press, 1990), 275.
28
Stelian Tanase, Revoluia ca eec Elite i societate, (Bucureti, Humanitas, 2006), 43.
29
Tanase, Revoluia, 43.
30
Tanase, Revoluia, 43.
31
Raluca Grosescu, Traiectorii de conversie politic a nomenclaturii din Romnia. Spre o taxonomie a partidelor create de
fostele elite comuniste, n Anuarul de Investigare a Crimelor Comunismului n Romnia, (Iai, Polirom, 2007), 201.
32
Tudor, Elita politic, 190.

However, in its effort to assume political power, Romanian ruling class markes, like the entire
political class, an evolution in the process of professionalization. But elite circulation in the political field
has different trends. Compared with other countries is much lower, predominantly we talk about a
reproduction of elites as a whole. Circulation refers exclusively to change the political echelon and
administrative staff, with a vertical move, downward and upward. Governmental personnel of the
parliamentary political parties experienced the lowest circulation. 33 This proliferation of a type of
selection of superior members reproduces the rules of recruitment of the former nomenklatura. In this
context, during first legislatures, post communist political parties send to the parliamentary arena the
same figures, at the expense of professional competence. 34.
LOCAL POLITICAL POST COMMUNIST ELITE IN RMNICU VLCEA MUNICIPALITY
The research conducted on the local political elites in Romania, in the public administration
sector, provides some interesting data on the relation between the old elite (persons who were members of
the communist Party before December 1989 and were able to preserve their positions) and the new post
communist elite (those assuming political position after December 1989 until June 1992).
Interpreting the data from local press and archives, between 1989 and 1992, will help us to see if
the configuration of local elites differs from one region to another, and the same is true for the circulation
or reproduction of elites. The local political elites, identified with the administrative elites are represented
by mayors, vice-mayors, local councilors, and presidents of County Council. Before starting with an
analysis of the political elite, a short contextualization and characterization of the Romanian revolution
seen in Rmnicu Vlcea is necessary, in order to better understand the background of the transformation
of the political elites.
Considering that the new post communist political elite was favored by certain particularities of
the 1989 revolution, it is important to analyze these revolutionary events and deconstruct this political and
social movement.
After several days from the beginning of the revolution in Timisoara (16 December 1989), on 2021 December, a number of 6-7 thousand local citizens were ordered to be transported (together with
thousands of people from Dolj and Olt) to the city of revolution, where a group of hooligans devastate
the city.35 They had been armed with wooden bats made at the chemical industry sector from Rmnicu
Vlcea. Fortunately, the local citizens had not meet the chance to confront the hooligans from Timisoara,
as they came back home on 22 December. Many of them abandoned the mission on their way to
Timisoara, attracted by the social and political changes 36. In parallel, military forces were involved too, as
on 21 December a number of 250 military cadres were detached in Sibiu, and they came back next year
on 4 of January37.
In Rmnicu Vlcea the revolution started on 21-22 December, when flyers and manifests against
the Ceausescu regime appeared on the streets. On 22 December citizens gathered in front of White
House, headquarter of the Vlcea County Committee of Romanian Communist Party. 38 When the
national television announced the run of the dictator, the crowd entered the headquarter of the Communist
Party, occupying the building, beating the people from there, including the general secretary of the Party,
destroying documents, portraits of the dictator, books and other. Participation of the local citizens in these
events can be summarized as follows: what happened in Bucharest and several important cities in
33

Tanase, Revolutia, 71.


Tudor, Elita politic, 88.
35
C. Tamas, A treia revolutie romana. Cateva zile din decembrie 1989 in Judetul Valcea, (Ramnicu Valcea, Conphys, 2006), 27.
36
Tamas, A treia revolutie, 28-29.
37
C. Burlacu, Amprente enigmatic pe obrazul revolutiei. Un ordin clar intr-o situatie neclara, in Reporter, 55 (1992), 2.
38
Burlacu, Amprente, 2-10.
34

Romania, with scenes of bloodshed and violence, in Rmnicu Vlcea the revolution was peaceful 39, but
following at small-scale the same pattern as at national level occupying the headquarter of the
Communist Party and other buildings of the leadership, prolonged demonstrations in front of the local
institutions, drilled flags, speeches against the regime and dictator. Representatives of the local police and
Securitate did not intervene in these manifestations, thanks to close in their own offices and take care of
the armament.
On December 23 it was constituted the County Council of the National Salvation Front 40.
Symptomatic for a political organization like National Salvation Front the transformation into a genuine
political party brought to light different interests and political strategies. This Council was composed of
14 members, out of whom two were military cadres during the communist regime, nine were former
members of the nomenklatura not so influential during the communist regime, and the other two had no
connection with the ex-nomenklatura. The first president was economist Marian Maciuca, and
immediately after, he was replaced by Colonel Mihai Dumitrescu 41, who ran the Council for six months
(December 1989 June 1990).
On 18 of February 1990, on the base of Law no. 81/1990, it was decided that the old County
Council of the NSF to become the Provisional Council of National Unity of Vlcea (Consiliul Provizoiru
Vlcea de Uniune Naional). The Council was formed as follows: half of its members being composed of
the members of the already existing Council, and the other half from parties and minorities organizations
representatives. Therefore, it was decided that from the old Council to remain 51 members, plus 36
parties representatives (3 representatives from each political party existent at that time in Vlcea from a
total number of 12). The Council ceased activity in August 1990.
According to Law no. 8/1990 from January 7, issued by the National Salvation Front Council, is
proposed 7 members for the city hall. Traian Dumitrascu mayor, Marculescu Mihail vice-mayor,
Mesea Nicolae secretary, and other 4 members (local councils). Traian Dumitrascu held this position
from January 1990 to August 1990. In September 1990 it was proposed for this position Eugen Iordache,
two vice-mayors, one secretary, and five members. In January 1992, until the local elections, Emilian
Ionescu held the position of mayor of Rmnicu Vlcea. Before 1989, these local political elites held
different positions in the local administration, industrial and economic sector. This discontinuity of
personnel is probably a consequence of the weakened confidence of the local citizens in these leading
elites. This aspect could be measured through opinion polls, and in February 1990 it was conducted the
first free opinion poll from Vlcea. The results showed that the mayor was not seen well than the mayor
of the county (now prefect), as the first one was constantly associated with the function of manager he
held on a local enterprise during 1981-198842.
The successor party organization, National Salvation Front, from the local level was favored in
the institutionalization and consolidation process, because it was able to co-opt members from the old
nomenklatura or from the administrative communist apparatus (especially members from lower stratum),
persons who beneficiated of a certain decisional savoir-faire and who had access to the resources. A group
formed by former officials of the party administration became the most important. It gathered people of
the same generation, experienced in the party administration and with more contacts within the
administration structures. The local structure of the Romanian Communist Party dissolved by itself,
without being officially dissolved and thus much of the communist elite enjoyed the advantage of not
being in danger of any convictions or any lustration law. Consequently, in the period following the events
of 1989, many organizations were formed around individuals who occupied positions of responsibility in
the communist regime, associating with local political elites uninvolved in communist political life,
strengthening the party. After 1989 the local political elites, who gained their social and political status
under communism, tried to reinvent their legitimacy.
39

Local press, scuh as Orizonturi Noi, urged to peaceful participation from the citizens.
Orizonturi Noi, 23rd of December 1989, 4.
41
Orizonturi Noi, 23rd of December 1989, 4.
42
Curierul de Valcea, 3rd of February 1990, 3.
40

In the former local nomenklatura, as at the national level, recruiting individuals was not made on
professional and meritocratic grounds, but by creating a permanent subordination to the higher functions.
Immediately, after 1989 the communist party and ideology were no more mentioned in the public
discourse, or explicitly condemned. Romanian Communist Party disappeared from the local political
scene. Its formal dissolution did not involve a downgrading of the local nomenklatura. Persons who had
leading positions in the communist apparatus disappeared from the political life. From the data collected
from the local press, some of them beneficiated from early retirement and others moved to economic or
cultural sectors.
At a closer analyze we can observe the existence of three types of former communist elite that
perpetuated in the post communist local administration structure. First, there was an active member of the
nomeklatura, faithful to Ceausescu, but who was marginalized and never during the communist regime
held superior position. After 1989 this type of elite infiltrated in the new political structures created.
Second, there were those who constituted the leading revolutionary figures of the revolution in
Rmnicu Vlcea. They were those who were part of the communist party and who represented a sort of
passive dissidence to the dictatorship of Ceausescu. This type local elite possessed sufficient prestige and
expertise to take over the political power after the fall of Ceausescu.
Third, this elite is atypical, and it is represented by the military personnel. Surprisingly, they held
important military positions during the communist regime, and after 1989 revolution they were identified
with key political positions at local level. Probably the explication resides from the fact that the Army was
seen by the local citizens as an ally, as a friend. This type of elite was active in the process of gaining
independence as well, and in this way it was supposed to acquire further legitimacy from the local
citizens, necessary to continue in running the public administration.
The brief analysis presented in this paper demonstrates a reproduction of communist elites into
the political elites of December 1989 and April 1992 in Rmnicu Vlcea. However, the demise of state
socialism stopped the entry of true newcomers into administration offices, especially for those who did
not occupy public offices before 1989. By and large, post communist political elite consisted of
individuals who had pursued cadre careers during communism, from political, economic and military
arenas. The degree of elite reproduction thus varied according to the elite type in question.

CONCLUSION
9

The present analysis has taken further steps into a debate yielded by a number of interlocking
mutations such as the communist heritage on local communitys political elites and the growth of the
clientelism at local level. Basically, it entailed an application of the reproduction/circulation elite theory
on one particular local community, Rmnicu Vlcea, by distinguishing the presence of this phenomenon
after 1989 as such, by tracing the particularities of each model with a regard to possible deviations, and
concluding whether these two theories apply to this case. From the conceptual lelve towards the actual
investigation of the case, the main purpose was to present a comprehensive account of local political
communist elite conversion in Romania.
From the beginning, the difficulties posed by a proper operationalization of the two theories have
been admitted which led to a qualitative research. This analysis was not only triggered by the popularity
of the topic, but also by the possibility to provide new evidence as revealed through this particular study
case. The previous studies have denounced a reproduction of political elites at national level, but few
empirical studies were done at local level. Even though the baseline year of the research is 1989-1992, the
discussion started from the possible past legacies with impact on the course of the Rmnicu Vlcea
municipality.
The equilibrium between political institutions and actors has been altered by an evolution towards
a personalized style of doing politics. With a higher frequency, the political arena witnesses personalitybased conflicts in a competition between power and opposition out of which the leaders have much more
to gain or much more to lose. The 1989 events from Rmnicu Vlcea have changed the social hierarchies
and led to the appearance of an elite, who, more or less, was part of the communist power structure.
Nomeklatura managed to become able to take over the leading positions within the community, on the
background of a weak and absent civil society.
Romanian communist political elite found the necessary resorts to reorganize according to a
reconsideration of interests after 1989. The communist regime would have found the nomeklatura in a
privileged social position, guided by one goal: privilege. The ex-communist elites become in a very short
time large capital owners. The lack of serious opposition in the political arena facilitated conversion of the
former nomeklatura.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Archives
Orizonturi noi, December 1989 July 1991.
10

Curierul de Vlcea, January 1990 October 1991.


Archives of the Rmnicu Vlcea City Hall Executive Decisions, January1990 April 1992.
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