FOR THE second time in a month, Romania’s witches are cursing its political leaders for making unforeseen moves against their ancient, occult trade.
After reforming employment law in January to force witches to pay the same 16 per cent income tax as Romania’s ordinary mortals, the government is seeking to punish clairvoyants whose predictions fail to come true.
For some Romanian politicians this is only the latest round in a long-running battle to make the country’s thousands of witches, alternative healers and astrologers pay taxes and be more accountable for their actions.
While critics accuse the government of trying to distract attention from its failings, supporters hope the new rules will boost revenue for the cash-strapped economy and bring order to an aspect of national life that many find embarrassing and anachronistic.
Last year, as Romania struggled to emerge from a deep recession, members of the ruling liberal party tried to tighten rules on witches. But the Senate voted down the bill, prompting accusations that opponents were scared of being cursed.
This year’s labour code subjected witches to income tax and the government hopes parliament’s second chamber will approve the latest bill to make soothsayers responsible for their prophecies’ accuracy.
So-called queen witch Bratara Buzea and many others are fiercely opposed to state control over a practice that was banned in communist times – though dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s wife Elena was rumoured to retain a personal witch.
“They want to take the country out of this crisis using us? They should get us out of the crisis because they brought us into it,” said Ms Buzea of the new tax law.
She also decried the bill to hold prognosticators to their predictions, saying: “They can’t condemn witches, they should condemn the cards.”
Ms Buzea, who was jailed for witchcraft in the 1970s, has threatened to strike down Romania’s rulers with a spell involving cat excrement and a dead dog.
Witchcraft is not taken lightly in Romania. After losing a 2009 election, former foreign minister Mircea Geoana accused president Traian Basescu of using the mystical “power of the purple flame” to damage his campaign and of employing a parapsychologist to attack him with “negative energy”.