Ceaușescu rose up through the ranks of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej's Socialist government and, upon Gheorghiu-Dej's death in 1965, he succeeded to the leadership of Romania’s Communist Party as General Secretary.
Upon his rise to power, he eased press censorship and openly condemned the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in his speech on 21 August 1968, which resulted in a surge in popularity.
However, widespread infighting by older and more connected officials made the Politburo turn to Ceaușescu, as a compromise candidate.
He was elected general secretary on 22 March 1965, three days after Gheorghiu-Dej's death.
On 25 December, after being tried and convicted of economic sabotage and genocide, Ceaușescu was born in the small village of Scornicești, Olt County, on 26 January 1918, being one of the nine children of a poor peasant family (see Ceaușescu family).