Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Colombia: Mockus continues climb in polls

Back in February when Colombia’s Constitutional Court barred President Alvaro Uribe from seeking a third term it seemed a sure bet that one of his closest allies would succeed him. Since then, however, former Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus (image) has enjoyed a stratospheric rise in the polls at cost of several Uribista presidential hopefuls.

In a poll released on Monday by RCN Television dark horse candidate Mockus would win in either a first or second round over ex-Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos. Another poll released yesterday by Invamer-Gallup showed a statistical tie between both men but also indicated that Mockus would win in a run-off against Santos. Those polls showed that may have a very realistic chance in becoming Colombia’s next president after trailing Santos by nearly thirty points as recently as five weeks ago.

The race for Colombia’ presidency has become a two-horse race between Santos and Mockus while conservative candidates such as Noemi Sanin and German Vargas Lleras have fallen by the wayside. It was no surprise then that Santos attacked Mockus in a televised debate last night and criticized him for supposedly endorsing extraditing Uribe to Ecuador over a controversial 2008 Colombian military incursion.

Trying to pigeonhole Mockus into an ideological category is not an easy task. On the one the hand he is not as staunchly pro-Uribe as the likes of Santos and Lleras. Conversely, he has vowed to continue the “economic and security policies” of the very popular Uribe. Take for example his views on Colombia’s armed conflict and Venezuela’s president:
Mockus has repeatedly stated that he will not negotiate with the FARC rebel group until all hostages are released and said he “respects”, but is no fan of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, whom the Colombian Government has accused of interfering in the elections by attacking candidate Santos. Chávez has said that if Santos if elected president, a regional war is “almost inevitable since he is puppet of the US Empire”.

“What is productive (with Venezuela) is relations based on prudence,” has been the message of Mockus to Colombian public opinion. According to Colombian political analyst Alejo Vargas, soaring popular support for Mockus can be explained because of a “media swell” similar to what happened eight years ago with Álvaro Uribe who, against all odds and forecasts, was elected president of Colombia in May 2002.
Image- LAHT
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Plan Colombia and Beyond, BusinessWeek, MercoPress, Colombia Reports


Alfredo said...

The philosopher may pull this one off. Go Antanas!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mockus, Chavez and Fidel! The winning trio! :D