Sao Paulo, Brazil:
After shedding eight elections, Regina Bento Sequeira got here up with a plan to win a metropolis council seat in Brazil: She reinvented herself as a superhero, “Captain Chloroquine.”
The identify — which is able to really seem on the poll for the nation’s native elections Sunday — is a nod to her political idol, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who hails chloroquine as a marvel drug towards Covid-19 regardless of a slate of research discovering it’s ineffective.
Nearly as controversial because the hotly debated malaria drug is Brazil’s peculiar follow of permitting candidates to run underneath pseudonyms like Sequeira’s, a phenomenon that has exploded regardless of complaints from critics that it detracts from critical politics.
To Sequeira, it’s the solely method candidates like her — common Brazilians with out deep pockets — can hope to get voters’ consideration.
She has been crisscrossing Rio de Janeiro in a metallic yellow convertible emblazoned with the nickname and handing out flyers with an image of herself decked out in a Captain Marvel outfit, asking voters to decide on her for metropolis council to struggle each Covid-19 and corruption.
“It is the one solution to make my mark. I do not work in politics, I haven’t got assist, I haven’t got cash. That is why I selected this path,” says Sequeira, 59, who’s a lawyer in her day job.
However she says she has no illusions about her possibilities.
“Are you joking?” she says when requested who she thinks will win.
“The identical ones as at all times!”
Sunday’s ballots can even characteristic Superman, Batman, Surprise Girl, Bin Laden, Trump and Obama among the many 576,000 candidates vying for some 64,000 posts nationwide.
“As a result of there are a whole lot of candidates, folks attempt to use names that stand out,” says Natalia Aguiar, a political scientist on the Federal College of Minas Gerais.
“The phenomenon of irreverent names could possibly be seen as a symptom of a deeper drawback: We overvalue particular person candidates on the expense of get together politics,” she instructed AFP.
Get out the vote
Sequeira first ran for public workplace in 2004.
She has tried a sequence of pseudonyms over time, a lot of them drawn from her actual nickname, Zefa.
In 2016, the 12 months the augmented actuality sport Pokemon Go got here out, she was “PokeZefa.”
In 2010, she was “Zefa White, preventing the finances dwarves.”
In 2008, she was “Cave Zefa,” with a Flintstones-inspired emblem, criticizing what she referred to as the Stone Age stage of improvement in her hometown, Sao Joao de Meriti.
But it surely was as “Tremendous Zefa” in 2006 the she acquired 5,713 votes, essentially the most but in her profession. So this 12 months she is making an attempt her luck once more as a superhero.
“Chloroquine was the recent matter of the day” throughout candidate registration, she mentioned.
“Everybody was speaking about chloroquine, whether or not negatively or positively. That is precisely what I wished.”
Does it work?
Political communication specialist Janaine Aires sees the pattern as an extension of Brazil’s tradition of nicknames.
“It is a attribute of Brazilian tradition: We attempt to have a sure proximity to our interlocutors,” says Aires, a professor on the Federal College of Rio Grande do Norte.
Pseudonymous candidates all hope to imitate the legendary success of Tiririca (Grumpy), a clown elected to Congress in 2010 with essentially the most votes nationwide after operating on the slogan, “It may’t get any worse.”
He has since been reelected twice.
However political analysts say it doesn’t at all times work.
“There is no proof this technique offers candidates a bonus,” says Aguiar.
(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)