Presidential hopeful 'hit by witch'
A top contender for the Romanian presidency has claimed he was zapped out of the race by a shadowy parapsychologist enlisted by his rival.
In Romania, the home of Dracula and other occult traditions, Mircea Geoana's assertion that a "negative energy attack" led to his narrow loss against re-elected president Traian Basescu has been the talk of the nation.
"The Evil Witch defeated Geoana," wrote the daily Evenimentul Zilei in a recent commentary typical of the buzz. "Romanian politicians really believe that magic forces can make you president or can destroy you. May the Force be with us!"
The first claims and counterclaims after Basescu's narrow December 6 run-off victory were nothing out of the ordinary, with Geoana's people complaining of massive fraud.
Then came the startling allegation: Geoana, in media interviews last week, claimed he was targeted by waves of negative energy during a key debate just before the run-off that was won by Basescu.
"People who were working for Basescu in this domain were present to the right of the camera," Geoana told Antena 3 Television. His wife, Mihaela said Geoana "was very badly attacked, he couldn't concentrate".
At first Romanians mocked their ex-foreign minister saying he was a bad loser. Basescu himself jokingly dismissed the allegations. But the recent publication of photos showing well-known parapsychologist Aliodor Manolea close to Basescu during the campaign has caused Romanians to ask whether the president really did put a hex on his rival.
The photos show Manolea, a slightly built, bearded man with a round face and cropped receding hair, walking just metres behind Basescu before the debate. Manolea's specialities include "deep mind control", clairvoyance and hypnotic trance, according to the Romanian Association of Transpersonal Psychology.
Manolea's alleged role in the elections evokes age-old Balkan rituals where the evil eye, witch doctors and other mysterious forces were used to launch mystic energy attacks on opponents and sap hapless victims of their vital strength.
In a further twist to the tale, photos reveal Manolea amid Geoana's entourage during a 2007 electoral campaign, suggesting the parapsychologist may be inclined to offer his services to anyone willing to pay the fee.