No joke as Brazil clown tops votes for Congress
- 4 October 2010
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
A Brazilian clown has had the last laugh by winning a seat in Congress with more votes than any other candidate in Sunday's elections.
Tiririca, or Francisco Oliveira Silva to give him his real name, was elected as a federal deputy for Sao Paulo with more than 1.3 million votes.
Tiririca, or "Grumpy", had slogans such as: "It can't get any worse."
Another celebrity winner was ex-footballer Romario, elected federal deputy for Rio de Janeiro.
Tiririca won 1,353,355 votes - well ahead of the next best-supported politician, former Rio state governor Antony Garotinho, who took more than 694,000 votes to be elected a federal deputy for the state.
Joining them in Brasilia will be Romario, the striker who helped Brazil win the 1994 World Cup. Fellow footballer and 1994 team-mate Bebeto was elected state deputy for Rio.
But the main sensation of the election campaign was Tiririca, who ran humorous campaign adverts on YouTube that attracted millions of hits.
"What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don't know. But vote for me and I will find out for you," was one of his messages.
Tiririca started working in a circus at the age of eight in the impoverished north-eastern state of Ceara, and is now a TV comedian.
He was one of dozens of candidates from the world of sport and showbusiness who were contesting some of the 513 seats in the lower house of Congress.
In all there were more than 6,000 candidates from 27 parties.
The way the Chamber of Deputies is formed - by an open-list proportional representation system - makes it easier for celebrity candidates to win office.
Analysts say their popularity also reflects disillusion with mainstream politicians, following numerous corruption scandals.
Tiririca's sucess could also have a bearing on other election races, as he can pass on his excess votes to other candidates in his party's coalition, which includes the governing Workers Party.
Tiririca survived a last-minute legal challenge to his candidacy amid evidence that he did not meet the literacy requirement for elected office.
However, the electoral authorities indicated he could be removed from office if he failed to show he can read and write after the election.