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Brazil clown secures congress seat

01 December 2010, 22:30

Sao Paulo - A television clown elected to Brazil's congress can take up his lawmaker duties after barely passing a literacy test, the judge overseeing the exam said on Wednesday.

Francisco Oliveira, a 45-year-old comic better known by his stage name Tiririca, demonstrated "a minimum of intellect concerning the content (of a text) despite difficulties in writing," the Sao Paulo regional electoral court judge, Aloisio Sergio Rezende Silveira, said.

That result sufficiently disproved critics who had claimed Oliveira could neither read nor write as required of a member of congress under Brazil's constitution, according to the judge.

"The electoral court considers someone to be ineligible only if they are totally illiterate," he said in an official statement.

Oliveira was elected as a Sao Paulo federal representative in October 3 legislative polls with 1.3 million ballots - the most of any of candidate across the country.

He ran a humorous television campaign dressed as a clown with a blond wig and colorful costume and spouting riffs like "What does a federal deputy do? I have no idea - but vote for me and I'll let you know."

Detractors, including several longtime lawmakers, said Oliveira was bringing Brazil's congress - known for its many corruption scandals - into disrepute and challenged his candidacy on literacy grounds.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former shoeshine boy and metalworker, called the demand for the test an "idiocy" disrespecting those who voted for Oliveira.

He added: "Tiririca is the face of society."


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