Bizarre names in elections Brazil, Hulken and Santas on ballot

It is not easy to stand out among the hundreds of thousands of candidates in the local elections in Brazil. The largest country in Latin America today elects new mayors and councillors for more than 5000 municipalities. Many of them try to attract the voter‘s attention with bizarre movies, jingles or nicknames.

Our correspondent shows a few striking appearances (and the difference with campaign films in the Netherlands is huge):

For example, eleven candidates for a place in the local city council call themselves Bin Laden, a nickname in Brazil for men with long gray beards.

A kinder nickname for bearded candidates is Santa Claus, 67 of them. De Hulk participates in 26 municipalities.

Candidate Bin Laden do Bem ‘the good bin Laden ‘, a.k.a. Jose Carlos De Lima:

In the city of Teresina, Quemquem (also a nickname) tries to become a city councillor with perhaps the most striking campaign. Dressed in a red-leather jacket, he imitates Michael Jackson in a cheap remake of the Thriller video clip:

The chorus in this election song has been modified: โ€œVote for change, vote Quemquem, number 25,700.โ€ Voters have to enter that number on the voting computer, so it’s important that it hangs.

In Brazil, all candidates have the right to broadcast time on television. Most of them get a few seconds at most, time they use to stand out. Fabio the Stutterer manages to pronounce his name and dialing number in that short time, but the clip does well on social media.

And this is Fabio the Stutterer, number 55,200:

Although this scores on social media, the bizarre campaigns usually don‘t work. โ€œIt is precisely because these candidates are completely unknown that they are rarely elected,โ€ emphasises political scientist Vinรญcius Valle. โ€œIt’s an almost desperate attempt to attract attention.โ€

According to the political scientist, these kinds of candidates have one thing in common. โ€œThey often use humor, absurdity and irony to criticize the political system. As anti-political sentiment is growing, we see that more and more bizarre candidates are participating in elections.โ€


President Bolsonaro owes his victory in the 2018 elections partly to the anti-establishment feeling of many Brazilian voters. He no longer has a party, and only interfered with a handful of allies campaigns.

Bolsonaro‘s popularity has risen in recent months, especially thanks to the corona emergency support to poor Brazilians. But when the president was involved in the campaign of Mayor Russomano in Sรฃo Paulo, he almost immediately plunged into the polls.

Son 02

That does not stop 85 candidates from using the name of the president in their campaign. โ€œThose people lifted on the popularity of Bolsonaro,โ€ says Valle. Only one of the candidates named Bolsonaro received real support from the President. His son Carlos tries to be elected to the city council of Rio de Janeiro for the sixth time. Last time, in 2016, he got the most votes from all candidate councillors in Rio. That was before his father became president. The family is now betting on a new record for ‘son 02‘. Carlos’ reelection campaign is a test of his father‘s popularity.

By the way, his mother, Rogรฉria, also participates in the municipal elections in Rio, called Bolsonaro. Her campaign wasn’t supported by her ex-husband, the president.