SAO PAULO Voters the world over complain about having clowns for politicians, but Brazilians embraced the idea on Sunday by sending a real one to Congress with more votes than any other candidate.
Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, better known by his clown name Tiririca, received more than 1.3 million votes in Sao Paulo state in Brazil's presidential and congressional elections. That was more than double the votes of the second-placed candidate in Brazil's most populous state.
Tiririca caught the attention of disillusioned voters by asking for their support with the humorous slogan: "It can't get any worse" and a promise to do nothing more in Congress than report back to them on how politicians spend their time.
"What does a congressman do? The truth is I don't know, but vote for me and I'll tell you," the 45-year-old said in his campaign advertisements.
The clown, whose stage name means "grumpy," usually appears in public wearing a blond wig, a red hat and a garish outfit. He survived a last-minute attempt by public prosecutors to bar him from running because of evidence that he is illiterate.
His candidacy may not have been as spontaneous or innocent as it might appear.
Tiririca's well-financed campaign will help elect other politicians because under Brazil's election rules he can pass his substantial excess votes on to other candidates in his coalition, which includes the ruling Workers' Party.
(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Terry Wade)