There’s no doubt that Argentines like to stand out in a crowd. Each year, many dress up in costumes for election day or leave fun ballots in the polling stations. The 2023 primaries were no exception.
Messi for president
In Llavallol city, Buenos Aires province, voters found a very particular ballot on the tables of one of the polling stations: Lionel Messi-David Beckham for president and vice president, with Inter Miami’s signature pink and black colors.
The fake ballot had the identification number 10M, in reference to the Argentine football star, and the coalition name “Unión por las Garzas” (Union for the Herons), a mix between the club’s nickname and Unión por la Patria, the name of the ruling coalition in Argentina.
The ballot also included Inter Miami’s coach and fellow Argentine Gerardo “Tata” Martino as lead national deputy candidate. The list of the rest of the team members completes the ticket.
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Santa or Marx?
A leftist candidate caught the attention of some Buenos Aires City voters. Raúl Espineda, 73, ran for councillor with Política Obrera, a small leftwing party. In the photo chosen to represent him in the electronic ballot system the city used, his hair and beard are coiffed to make him look just like Karl Marx — very on brand.
But he isn’t just a Marx lookalike. Espineda works as Santa Claus at Christmas time. Although he drives a removal truck most of the year, every December over the past decade he has turned into Santa, hired by malls, supermarkets, and private events. His natural thick white beard and mustache are key to his look.
Since 2019, every time there’s been an election or a national holiday tailor Jorge Williams has gone all in on his Argentine. His handmade suit and cape, complete with a hat and scarf, all in the sky blue and white colors of Argentina’s national flag, have become a classic in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo. He also carries a cane akin to the ceremonial one handed to the new president during their inauguration.
Williams, 81, was born in Chubut province and started working as a tailor when he was just 11. He has since become an expert at making classic suits for men. Although he has lived in other countries, he chose to settle in Argentina and shows himself proud every time he goes to vote or celebrates a national holiday by going out in his Argentine costume.
“If someone doesn’t vote, they can’t complain about the things they don’t like,” he told news agency Télam.
Costumes have become part of Argentina’s election culture. Every year you will find dozens of pictures of people who show up dressed as their favorite fictional characters: this year it was Spiderman, the Pink Panther, and even a furry wearing a costume based on an original character design.
Furries are people who enjoy dressing up as anthropomorphic animals. TikTok user LavenderToyz showed how they went to the polling station in Pilar, Buenos Aires province, in a cat-like costume for a character named Wilson.
In Argentina, electoral restrictions mean people can’t wear clothing that could be identified with specific candidates or coalitions, since that could give away who they are voting for. Saying who you are going to vote for out loud is also banned — it’s considered voto cantado.
Also, to be clear, if you opted for the Messi-Beckham ticket your vote was void, although some voters may have chosen this or other items to spoil their ballot; a slice of salami has been a popular option in the past.
People who show up wearing masks or costumes that cover their faces are asked to remove them when they vote so their identities can be verified.
But a quirky costume and maybe a TikTok dance? Go right ahead.