Clown heads for political office
Published 28/09/2010 | 04:39
Brazilians seem eager to put a clown in parliament - but the courts are not laughing about a new report that he does not meet a legal requirement to be able to read and write.
The Brazilian constitution says members of Congress must be literate and prosecutors say they want to force Tiririca - a name that means "grumpy" in colloquial Portuguese - to disprove the allegations.
Otherwise, he could be thrown out of office if he wins the election.
Tiririca, whose real name is Francisco Silva, has been this electoral season's hit in Brazil, drawing millions of viewers on YouTube to his campaign ads.
His slogans include "It can't get any worse" and "What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don't know. But vote for me and you'll find out".
Polls show he is likely to win more votes for Brazil's lower house than any other candidate.
But people who have worked with Silva on his TV shows and a book credited to him say he is illiterate, as is about 10% of Brazil's population.
A video shows a reporter reading questions to Silva. He is then asked to read one of the questions himself. Visibly shaken, he hesitates before campaign aides rush to the rescue and read it for him.
Now Silva may have to prove he can read before a judge. Prosecutor Pedro Barbosa has asked an electoral court to intervene.
If he fails to convince a judge he can read and write, Mr Barbosa said, Silva could be removed from office.