Obama on Ballot in Brazil

September 18, 2008 - 3:39 PM
Brazil Double-Take: Barack Obama's on the ballot
Obama on Ballot in Brazil (image)

Due to a quirk in Brazilian electoral law, candidates can put any name they want on the ballot, as long as it isn't offensive. At least eight candidates have chosen to be known as "Barack Obama."

Brasilia, Brazil (AP) - With Barack Obama on the ballot in at least eight local elections in Brazil, you might think the Democratic presidential candidate is keeping his options open in case John McCain winds up in the White House.

Not at all. Due to a quirk in Brazilian electoral law, candidates can put any name they want on the ballot, as long as it isn't offensive. At least eight candidates have chosen to be known as "Barack Obama."

The Illinois senator is hugely popular in Brazil. The prospect of a black U.S. president has generated enthusiasm across the country, where more people call themselves black than anywhere except Nigeria.

Many Brazilian candidates are hoping they can ride his distant coattails into office.

Alexandre Nunes Jacinto, a 48-year-old air conditioner salesman, says his candidacy for city council in the dusty northeastern town of Petrolina is partly a tribute to the American. He read Obama's biography four years ago and was impressed with the way he crossed racial barriers.

"Like Barack, I believe racism is something we should overcome," Nunes told The Associated Press.

Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, who's running for mayor of Belford Roxo on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, took the name Barack Obama de Belford Roxo.

"I intend to enter into history as the first black governor of Belford Roxo, just like the American Barack Obama intends to enter history as the first black president of the United States," he told the newspaper O Globo.

Some of the candidates say the changing identity doesn't just apply to the campaign trail.

"Since I registered my new name, Alexandre died," Jacinto said. "Now everybody calls me Barack."