Clown congressman messes up first vote

RIO DE JANEIRO Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:51am EST

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A clown who won a seat in Brazil's Congress by a landslide has stayed true to his former profession by accidentally messing up his first vote.

Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, better known by his clown name Tiririca, had pledged to back the government's austerity proposal for a new national minimum wage in a crucial vote on Wednesday night.

When the time came, however, Tiririca pressed the wrong button on the computerized system and accidentally voted for an opposition proposal for a much bigger increase in the wage than the government wants, according to Brazilian media who spoke to his office.

The leader of the opposition PSDB party in Congress' lower house, Duarte Nogueira, said he was grateful for the unexpected support, although the government still won the vote.

"I went and thanked him -- after all, it's the support of the deputy who won the most votes in Brazil," he was quoted as saying by the Agencia Estado news agency.

Tiririca caught the attention of disillusioned voters last October with a campaign slogan "It can't get any worse" and a promise to do nothing more in Congress than report back on how politicians spend their time.

(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Philip Barbara)

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