The Olympic Games in London provided a welcome distraction from politics during August. There wasn’t a whole lot of medals, but in a way, that made those that Romania won all the more special. After the excitement of the referendum came several weeks of waiting around for the Constitutional Court to officially call the election invalid. By the end of the month, politics had got back to normal, which was rancor and bitterness between President and Parliament.
Romania’s first of two gold medals came in the shooting competition at the end of July. Alin Moldoveanu won the 10m air rifle competition. Along the way, he equaled the Olympic record and beat the world champion. The women gymnasts put in a fantastic performance in the team event. Up against three strong teams – the US, Russia and China – and with European champion Larisa Iordache carrying an injury, any kind of medal was going to be a huge challenge. But with some stunning individual performances, particularly from Olympic veteran Catalina Ponor, Romania pushed the Chinese into fourth place to take the team bronze.
Romania lost one of its brightest musical lights when concert pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa died aged only 33. She was a child prodigy and went on to perform at the premier concert halls around the world. Her first album, released in 2010, received widespread critical acclaim and won an ECHO Klassik award.
The weather remained boiling hot throughout August and people in the capital took every opportunity to escape to the coast, sending the occupancy rates at seaside hotels soaring with the temperatures to reach 100 percent.
The Olympics continued in London and Romania picked up some more medals, including in judo and weightlifting. Romania struck gold again when gymnast Sandra Izbasa won the vault competition and in fencing, Romania beat the Russians and went on to win silver in the team sabre.
Gymnast Catalina Ponor had already won three gold medals in previous Games and made an important contribution to Romania’s team bronze. She suffered a great disappointment in the beam competition when she was stripped of the bronze following a successful appeal by the American in fourth place. Undaunted, Catalina came back and won a silver in floor event.
France may have had a new president, but the deportation of Roma to Romania continued. The European Commission raised concerns and released a statement. The EC “considers that France has not yet transposed the Directive on Free Movement into national legislation that makes these rights fully effective and transparent.”
The referendum may have been over, but the debate went on, with the Constitutional Court delaying making a decision until the end of August before bringing the date forward again. Crin Antonescu remained, for the time being, as interim President.
The Lady Gaga concert was one of the most eagerly awaited music events of the year. Her fans weren’t disappointed, despite the change in venue. Lady Gaga encouraged concert goers to dress outrageously, which many of them did, even if a lot of them were accompanied by their parents.
The Constitutional Court returned its verdict on the referendum on schedule and a week later President Traian Basescu was back in the Cotroceni Presidential Palace. He had been away for nearly two months and had been let off the hook by the low turnout which had invalidated the referendum. It was the second impeachment President Basescu had survived, after a previous attempt several years before, and although the majority of those that voted were in favor of him facing charges, he was back in office.