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From Tarzan to Papa Smurf, humor comes first for these Brazilian candidates

. Nov 15, 2020
joke candidates election 2020 brazil "Santa Claus" runs for a City Council seat in São Paulo.

“Vote Tiririca, because it can’t get worse than this!” That was the campaign slogan of well-known Brazilian clown Tiririca — real name Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva — when he was elected as a member of Congress in 2010. He became the lawmaker with the highest number of votes in Brazil’s history, with 1.3 million people paving his way to the capital in what was seen as a protest vote, against the erosion of the population’s trust in politics.

As it turned out, it could get worse — much worse.

Tiririca was a pioneer.

In the ten years that followed, political hopefuls around Brazil have turned to comedy and farce as a genuine strategy for election — to varying degrees of success.</p> <p>Indeed, the first step for these candidates is finding the perfect name to go on the ballot. Characters from children&#8217;s cartoons are a recurring favorite, with <a href="https://divulgacandcontas.tse.jus.br/divulga/#/candidato/2020/2030402020/41238/130000757348">Snoopy</a> and <a href="https://divulgacandcontas.tse.jus.br/divulga/#/candidato/2020/2030402020/41238/130001175462">Casper the Friendly Ghost</a> in Belo Horizonte, and <a href="https://divulgacandcontas.tse.jus.br/divulga/#/candidato/2020/2030402020/60011/190000810754">Woody the Woodpecker</a> in Rio de Janeiro.</p> <p>Branching out a bit, Antonio Carlos Tadeu Gusman has made use of his long white beard to run as <a href="https://divulgacandcontas.tse.jus.br/divulga/#/candidato/2020/2030402020/71072/250000881968">Santa Claus Toninho Gusman</a>. In Rio de Janeiro, Vanderson Santos of the Christian Democracy party fancies himself as one for the wild, appearing on this year&#8217;s ballot as simply, <a href="https://divulgacandcontas.tse.jus.br/divulga/#/candidato/2020/2030402020/60011/190001164475">&#8220;Tarzan.&#8221;</a> And in Belo Horizonte, we have — why not? — &#8220;<a href="https://divulgacandcontas.tse.jus.br/divulga/#/candidato/2020/2030402020/41238/130000757342">Ronaldinho Lookalike</a>,&#8221; who actually does bear a good physical resemblance to the ex-football star.</p> <h2>Go with what you&#8217;re known for</h2> <p>In this year&#8217;s municipal election, a stunning 1,431 candidates will run with the suffix &#8220;Do Bar,&#8221; suggesting that they own or work in a local pub.</p> <p>A number of professions will be represented on candidates&#8217; names this weekend, with names like &#8220;Marcos from the Pharmacy,&#8221; and &#8220;Nilson from the Registry Office.&#8221; In the northern city of Altamira — <a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2019/08/03/amazonian-town-altamira-brazil-murder-capital/">the murder capital of Brazil</a> — city councilor João do Biscoito gained national fame in 2016 with a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEczDqpl27c">campaign video parodying Disney classic &#8220;Frozen.&#8221;</a></p> <p>Named after his past job selling sweet biscuits on the streets of Altamira, João do Biscoito is running for re-election this year with a suitably catchy campaign sting — this time parodying <a href="https://twitter.com/Joaodobiscoito/status/1320376733254778880">children&#8217;s YouTube hit &#8220;Baby Shark.&#8221;</a> We dare you to try and get this out of your head.</p> <h2>The Bolsonaro effect on local candidates</h2> <p>In Sunday&#8217;s election, one of President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s sons, Carlos Bolsonaro, will be running for re-election as a city councilor in Rio de Janeiro. His mother, President Bolsonaro&#8217;s first wife Rogéria, will also be on the ballot for the same position. But they will not be the only &#8220;Bolsonaros&#8221; to be running for office this weekend.</p> <p>A survey from news website G1 showed that 82 candidates around the country will use &#8220;Bolsonaro&#8221; as part of their <em>noms de guerre</em>, as a way to attract votes from the president&#8217;s supporters.</p> <p>Among the highlights is João Santana, a city council candidate from Brusque in southern Brazil, who submitted his campaign registration as &#8220;<a href="https://omunicipio.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/candidato-e-impedido-de-disputar-eleicoes-com-nome-de-donald-trump-bolsonaro-em-brusque-donald-trump-bolso-1068x580.jpg">Donald Trump Bolsonaro</a>.&#8221; However, electoral courts <a href="https://omunicipio.com.br/candidato-e-impedido-de-disputar-eleicoes-com-nome-de-donald-trump-bolsonaro-em-brusque/">vetoed</a> his attempt at glory, saying there was no proof Mr. Santana had ever been known by this particularly odd nickname.</p> <p>But there are also some less than flattering homages to the president on ballots around the country. One of Mr. Santana&#8217;s rivals is 57-year-old Antonio Carlos Weidgenant, who has decided to run as &#8220;<a href="https://divulgacandcontas.tse.jus.br/divulga/#/candidato/2020/2030402020/80551/240001139925">Gargamel Bolsonaro</a>,&#8221; presumably due to his tenuous physical similarity to the sworn enemy of the Smurfs. Fortunately, fellow political hopeful <a href="https://jornalconexao.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/candidato-engracado-humor-08.jpg">Adelmo Papa Smurf</a> is based 1,200 kilometers away in the Federal District, having run for a local seat in 2018.

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Débora Álvares

Débora Álvares has worked as a political reporter for newspapers Folha de S.Paulo, O Estado de S.Paulo, Globo News, HuffPost, among others. She specializes in reporting on Brasilia, working behind-the-scenes coverage at the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches of government.

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