Before 1989 Romania was among the most authoritarian regimes of those in the Socialist East Bloc. Nicolae Ceauçescu's secret police was among the most active, and the dictator ruled with impunity until the wave of popular revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in the autumn of 1989 reached Romania. An internal coup deposed Ceaçescu (whose body was shown on television after he was shot), but Romania did not move immediately to liberal politics as in Poland or Hungary. Democracy took time to develop, although success appears on the horizon after joining the North Atlantic Treat Organisation (NATO) in 2004 and possible inclusion in the European Union by 2007.

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