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Abstract

"A spectre is haunting Eastern Europe: the spectre of what in the West is called 'dissent.'" This is how Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright, dissident, and President, began his influential 1978 essay, "The Power of the Powerless." Havel's statement of dissent in Eastern Europe was certainly true in his country of Czechoslovakia, as well as in countries such as Poland and Hungary. The presence of sustained and organized dissent was largely absent, however, in Romania. Even in countries with the presence of popular and consistent dissent, the collapse of the communist regime was still shocking in both scope and speed. As Gaddis suggests, the failure to conceive of and subsequent shock of the collapse of communism was true in academics as well as in government and the media.1 The unexpected collapse of communism in countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia with dissident movements as prominent as Solidarity and Charter 77 makes the collapse of the Ceausescu regime even more shocking. Small protests in Timisoara, on December 15, 1989, ultimately culminated with the execution of Ceausescu and his wife on December 25 that year. The speed and beginnings of the collapse of Romanian Communism are still puzzling to this day.

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