It’s 3PM on a late September day and a car drives by the apartment complex. This isn’t an odd occurrence since I live near a main street. This particular car happens to have large speakers set up on its roof and it’s playing the kind of song that is attractive to young people. Without considering it, I start bobbing my head to the beat while at my desk…then comes the chorus. Strangely, it’s a five digit number that is on a loop.
What I’m experiencing, in actuality, is a local politician’s campaign strategy. Politicians in Brazil each get a number which they need to use to the best of their ability in order to get their constituents to vote for them. These numbers are repeated ad-infinitum as if the only purpose were to implant that number in people’s heads.
A few other strategies are also employed during election time, with only one of them allowing the politician ‘air-time’ to say what they stand for. Another phase of the “remember my name and number” plan of attack, is to hire anyone looking for some extra cash to stand in high traffic areas and hand out glossy leaflets with the politician’s face, name, number and political party on them. The idea, I suppose, is to hammer the message home. Whatever that message might be, I can’t quite tell.
If you’ve ever seen local politician posters on people’s lawns and alongside roads, this also happens here…just multiply its occurrence by a factor of five. Both the leaflets and the posters fill the cities in the form of visual pollution and actual litter. There’s one guy taking a stand, albeit perhaps more in jest.
As for the final strategy, this is seen via television where politicians are given an allotted amount of time to speak their mind (read: make you remember their information for voting). The higher up you are on the political chain, the more time you get on air and when the time comes, there are TV channels dedicated to playing these ads nonstop for days, perhaps weeks.
I’m no fan of politics worldwide thus it’s safe to say I don’t care for any of it. From my studies of other cultures, I would actually say such tactics are utilized throughout the world more so than those found in US campaigns (full-page ads, professionally-produced TV ads with varying levels of “truthiness”, etc). By the way, for the Brazilian who doesn’t vote (“anular o voto”, see comments), even though it’s mandatory here, the fine is just R$3. Now that’s a price I would pay, twice over, in order to skip it all and do my own research so as to make my own decision.
As an aside, not voting can create hassles in other areas of life, which requires one to take a visit or two to a gov’t office to clear (“justificar”) one’s name. See the comments for more. info.