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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Reality TV search for Argentine politician
Rioting broke out in Argentina as the country faced ruin
Argentina, a country in despair at the state of its own politicians, is turning to reality TV to chose a candidate to put up for the next election.

A Buenos Aires television channel is launching a show called The People's Candidate in which the winner will be nominated as a candidate for the 2003 congressional elections, representing a new party.

About 800 people have already auditioned for the show, including pensioners, transvestites and the unemployed.

The search is already underway as judges whittle the hopefuls down to 16 who will appear on the show.

"Political disenchantment is the common denominator of all those who have come forward," said Sebastian Melendez, the show's producer and creator.

Eduardo Duhalde
Current Argentine president Eduardo Duhalde
Viewers will vote for the candidate they want to represent the People's Party for a seat in the lower house of Congress with the winner being announced on 1 December.

Argentina has suffered one of its worst political and economic periods in history, leaving 20% of the workforce unemployed and many not being able to access their own money in banks.

The BBC's South America correspondent Peter Greste said: "Public disenchantment with their current stock of politicians is now so low that the most common chant at anti-government rallies is 'All of Them Out'."

The instability is evident in the fact that the country has seen five presidents and six economy ministers pass through in a year.

Laughter is the answer

Ruben Delauro

Change of attitude

University of Buenos Aires economist Marcelo Lascano, said the programme is yet another sign that the public simply does not believe its politicians have the capacity to lead the country out of the current crisis.

The would-be candidates hoping to be picked by the public have been airing their views on how they would attempt to get the country back on an even keel.

Ideas ranged from voting reforms to schemes to encourage laughter.

Ivana Aguero, a 42-year-old food co-operative worker, wants a tough line to be taken.

"There are lots of reforms to be done. Competition and bankruptcy laws need changing," he said.

But others are seeking a less traditional method of politics.

"We're drawing up a plan to help Argentines recover a time when they laughed, whistled and sang in the streets," said paramedic Ruben Delauro.

"We need an urgent change of attitude. Laughter is the answer."

Action hero

Meanwhile, a US network is searching for the next Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vin Diesel in a reality TV reality show called The Next Action Star.

Following on from the success of American Idol, NBC has teamed up with Lethal Weapon producer Joel Silver to uncover a pair of unknowns, one male one female, to transform into overnight screen heroes.

Producers are planning to choose 12 finalists who will live together while they are given acting lessons.

Although they are expecting a deluge of aspiring actors they are hoping some of the contestants will be drawn from the ranks of the totally inexperienced.

"We want to find that guy and that girl who have whatever Bruce Willis had when he was bar-tending, whatever Harrison Ford had when he was building houses," said a spokesman.

See also:

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