Barack Obama is running for mayor in Belford Roxo, a little town close to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is also trying to become a mayor and a city council member in at least five other towns around Brazil, in the Brazilian October municipal elections. Not that Barack Obama though.
Thanks to the Brazilian electoral legislation, which allows candidates to choose whatever name they want to appear on the ballot, Brazilian politicians are using the high name recognition and popularity of US senator Barack Obama to advance their own political career.
The Rio Obama calls himself Obama of Belford Roxo. He is black and speaks English. But that's where the similarities end. The Brazilian Obama is not quite as fit as its Yankee counterpart and until now wasn't able to raise any money.Â
His real name is Cláudio Henrique dos Anjos, but he has registered at the Brazilian election board as Cláudio Henrique Barack Obama.
According to the TSE (Brazil's National Election Board) at least five candidates running for alderman and one running for mayor have Obama in the name they registered with that organ.
Dos Anjos, who is disputing his first election, says that he also wishes to make history becoming the first black mayor of his town, the same way, the real Obama wants to become the first black American president.
The Brazilian candidate say that he was given the Obama nickname by friends who started to call him by the new name after he appeared on TV campaigning. "I decided to officially adopt this name because that's the way I was best known," he said
Some of the Obama's namesakes have completely altered their names to adopt the American senator's identity.Â City council candidate Jovelino Selis, for example, who belongs to the ruling party PT (Workers Party) has changed his name on the ballot to Barak Obama (without the c). He is running for city council seat in Ubiratã, Paraná state.
On the other hand, Natalino Braz, from the DEM party, simplified it all by adopting the short version of American presidential candidate name: he calls himself Obama and nothing else. He is running as alderman in Mendes, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Candidate to a seat in Pompéu's City Council, in the state of Minas Gerais, and interested in drawing votes from people concerned with agrarian reform, Davi Cardoso, from the PSB party, uses Obama's name just to qualify himself.Â He has entered his name in the election board as Davi, o Obama do Assentamento (David, the Obama of the Settlement).
In Barretos, in the interior of São Paulo state, city council candidate Epaminondas do Nascimento, who belongs to the PSDB party and who doesn't wish to leave any doubt about his nationality and his original nickname Epa, enrolled as Epaminondas Epa Obama Brasileiro (Brazilian Obama)
Alexandre Nunes Jacinto, from the PSDB of Petrolina, Pernambuco, is another candidate to city council who wanted some of the Obama's magic. But in this case, the election board refused to accept the new name and Jacinto ended up filing his registration simply as Alexandre.
The first round of municipal elections in Brazil will be on October 5. A second round when necessary will happen October 26. All the voting will be done on computer terminals in the 5,568 Brazilian municipalities. Voting in Brazil is compulsory, subjecting violators to fines and other penalties. 127.464.143 Brazilians are registered to vote.