This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

The Daily Need

Question of the day: Can a clown elected to Congress read?

Tiririca the Clown, the newest Brazilian congressman. Photo: AP

Those unhappy with the outcome of the midterm elections here in the U.S. might do well to take a moment to contemplate Brazil, where not only was an actual clown elected to Congress, but that same clown is being quizzed to determine if he can read and write.

Tiririca, or “Grumpy,” the Clown catapulted into the office of federal deputy for Sao Paolo with 1.35 million votes, more than any of the other 6,000 candidates from 27 parties running in Brazil’s congressional elections last month. A minor television celebrity in Brazil who got his start as a circus clown, Tiririca (actually Francisco Oliveira Silva), campaigned on slogans like: “What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don’t know. But vote for me and I will find out for you.”

Brazilians may never  get to know, however, if Silva is able to juggle the many demands of office because officials say that, like 10% of Brazil’s population, he is illiterate. Handwriting discrepancies on Silva’s election application raised some eyebrows, and a judge ordered the congressman-elect to prove himself on paper. According to the Associated Press, Silva took an exam today. Should he fail, there is no word yet on who would fill his really big shoes.

As you anxiously await the results, please enjoy this campaign video. It’s in Portuguese, but the Washington Post provides a helpful translation here.

  • thumb
    Behind the numbers
    Just who are the Latino voters in Florida?
  • thumb
    Anti-Islam rhetoric in politics
    The Norway bomber threw a spotlight on anti-Islam bloggers and activists. Here in the U.S., their rhetoric has influenced mainstream political discourse.
  • thumb
    Obama calls for debt compromise
    A "grand bargain" would seem impossible at this point, but Obama is still pushing for one. Lawmakers in both parties meanwhile, planned votes on their rival debt plans.


  • acme

    Bottom line: in Brazil, you either vote for a illiterate clown or a corrupt “politician. That was obviously a “protest vote” (rather than a blank vote) against all the messy over there. Brazil has developed in many area in the past few years, but not as quite when politics come down.