Batman is running for office in the Brazilian city of Uberlândia. Not one but two James Bonds are seeking city council seats, in Ponta Grossa and Birigui. Elsewhere in Brazil, voters are being urged to cast ballots for candidates with names like Daniel the Cuckold and Elvis Didn’t Die.
Brazil has nurtured one of the world’s most vibrant democracies since its military dictatorship ended in 1985. As campaigning for municipal elections in October intensifies, this vitality is evident on the ballots, which reflect Brazil’s remarkably loose restrictions on what candidates can call themselves.
Ballots are filled with superhero names (five Batmans are running this year), mangled versions of American television characters (like the Macgaiver running in Espírito Santo State, inspired by the “MacGyver“ secret-agent series), and an array of raunchy nicknames.
“It’s a marketing strategy, a political program, because if I said Geraldo Custódio, no one was going to recognize me,” said Geraldo Custódio, 38, a teacher of driver’s education who is running for city council with the name Geraldo Wolverine in Piracicaba, an industrial city in São Paulo State.
Mr. Custódio said he had gotten the nickname of Wolverine, after the Marvel comics character, when he tried out for the reality television show “Big Brother Brazil.” He did not make it on the show, but the sideburns he adopted, along with his big build, made the nickname stick. He now campaigns with long metal talons. One of his ads says, “Vote for the guy who has claws!”
Creatively named candidates with talons might raise eyebrows elsewhere, but this is Brazil, a proudly relaxed country when it comes to the names of its politicians.