A turbulent spring and summer in Romanian politics left Traian Basescu badly in need of friends.
On July 6 his lack of support in parliament cost him dearly when a majority of deputies voted to impeach him. The move needed approval by referendum to come into effect.
The swing against Basescu had earlier taken a significant turn, when the centre-right government fell after losing a vote of confidence.
The left-wing Victor Ponta became prime minister and formed a new coalition, the Social Liberal Union.
Basescu’s popularity had plummeted amid a winter of protests against austerity and corruption.
Taking office, Ponta vowed to fight social injustice.
He quickly set about appointing his own people to key posts. A bitter power struggle was underway.
Ponta’s manoevres not only brought Basescu’s supporters onto the streets. The political instability hit Romania’s economy and raised doubts over Romania’s five billion euro IMF aid deal.
It also set alarm bells ringing elsewhere in Europe.
In Brussels Ponta received a rap on the knuckles. Basescu’s pro-austerity stance had won him allies in the EU. Some European leaders now said they were concerned about the rule of law in Romania.
Even at home, despite the president’s unpopularity, some were shocked by the speed with which Basescu’s enemies had moved against him.
But others dismissed his claims that opponents were attempting a “coup d’etat” and said the EU’s support for him was damaging Romania.