This November, Americans will choose between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney – but in parts of Brazil, elections include races between Batman and Robin, Osama Bin Laden and Chapulín Colorado.

An election process with relaxed rules on what political candidates can call themselves on the ballot and a need to stand out amongst the crowd of other contenders from more than 20 political parties is responsible for this phenomenon which can be witnessed in many cities across Brazil.

"It’s a marketing strategy," a driver's education teacher named Geraldo Custódio told the New York Times.  "If I said Geraldo Custódio, no one was going to recognize me.” 

Custódio is instead running under the name 'Geraldo Wolverine' for city council in the city of Piracicaba.

Wolverine is not alone. Superhero names tend to be popular with Brazilian political candidates. In other elections across the South American country, five Batmans and Batman's sidekick, Robin, are also running for office. Some others you can find on the ballot include American pop culture icons, often misspelled, such as 'Macgaiver,' (from the American action-adventure TV series MacGyver), and 'Ladi Gaga,' (after the Grammy award-winning singer famous for songs such as Poker Face and Bad Romance.)

Some names read like the titles of pedigrees in a dog show, like Elvis Didn't Die and National Institute of Social Security’s Defender of the People. Other candidates that can be found on Brazilian ballots include Daniel the Cuckold, James Bond, and Obama BH.

Even former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was born Luiz Inácio da Silva but incorporated his childhood moniker "Lula" which means "squid" in Portuguese, into his name.

While the practice is popular - a catchy nickname doesn't necessarily guarantee victory. A candidate in Brazil going by the name of Christ of Jerusalem lost a 2008 election in Porto Velho.

Tracy López is a bilingual writer living outside the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of Latinaish.com.

 

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