Building against the State in the Socialist Republic of Romania (1947–1989)

The Rural Population of Southern Europe Attack the Cities
By Adriana Diaconu

The “systematisation” policy implemented under Nicolae Ceausescu’s government from 1973 onwards and cemented in the 1980s triggered a crisis that took a heavy toll on the population and was met with as much criticism within the country as without. With the purpose of shedding light on the origins of this crisis, the paper refers back to the coming into power of the communists and the first policies aimed at encouraging private construction, as the housing shortage situation had been aggravated in the 1950s by high demographic vitality and rural exodus. Following a period during which the construction effort was largely carried out by the private sector, the voluntarist policies of Nicolae Ceausescu’s government initiated the mass dismantlement and restructuring of the private housing sector by state-owned companies. Despite remaining invisible in official discourse, political shifts on private construction initiatives and ownership appear to have caused the “qualitative” crisis triggered by the Romanian state from 1973 onwards. The housing crisis that emerged during the “systematisation” presented itself in the form of unexpected bans on construction permits, dispossessions of small property-owners (who had previously been supported by the government), and lastly, of restrictions and inadequacies characteristic of “enforced” accommodation.

Go to the article on