Brazilian citizens just elected a clown to their Congressional lower-house. Here is the story as covered by the BBC.
At first, it sounds bizarre, but look at the way the congressional elections are structured in Brazil. It’s an open-list proportional representation system, so almost anyone who fancies a stab at getting elected can put their name forward with almost no restriction. Over 6,000 people did that, for around 500 places in Congress.
Naturally that means celebrities and those who can attract media attention have an advantage, because you won’t vote for someone you have never heard of. And Tiririca the clown has mastered the art of making funny videos and posting them on YouTube.
He is also the classic anti-politician, just like the Hartepool monkey. Democratic representation started out as a system of true representation – we don’t all have time to participate in the leadership of our town/city/nation – so we elect representatives to do it on our behalf. But many citizens in Brazil and the world over feel disenfranchised by professional politicians who have forgotten that they were elected to serve. They are servants of the people. They are supposed to be humble, not swaggering and beating their chests, emphasising their power and claiming endless expenses.
It may seem ridiculous, but sometimes it’s a good thing to elect a clown, because it reminds the clowns in suits what they are supposed to be doing.