|The one nobody expected!|
No one ever considered such a run off, always assuming that it would be between the Uribista candidate and either the Conservative (most likely) or the old Liberals or even the left Polo. In the second round Santos was expected to breeze through, the only question here was if Uribe coat tails would be enough to carry him on the first round. They are not.
Noemi Sanin, the Conservative candidate is sinking fast as conservatives seem to rally around Santos, though not in droves as some seem to find their way to Mockus for the time being. Why? After all, Uribe and the Conservatives won a parliamentary majority in last months elections. How come suddenly everyone is scrambling to confront the sudden Mockus surge?
Sanin, although an ally of Uribe was not a friend of Santos and said that she would run if she got the nod from her party. She also has a past with Mockus. Her party was expected to give the nod to another guy who probably would step down before the first run ballot allowing, hopefully, for a straight Santos victory. But Sanin won and the Conservatives suddenly found themselves having to battle an electoral campaign that, well, they really did not feel like battling, more comfortable as the junior partners of an Uribista coalition. Uribe's phenomenon and success have started a tectonic movement in traditional politics forcing slowly but surely the fusion of the traditional right, the Conservatives, and the more "neo-liberal-yet-socially conscious" one of Uribe.
Uribe years have also seen the drain of the Liberal party of Colombia (social democrat like) but not as a vigorous tectonic shift among the center left to left groups. On this respect Uribe is more responsible of having regenerated the right through his success and thus attracted many Center and center left votes leaving the left and the Liberales battle for roughly 2/5 of the electorate, a situation meant to continue as long as both the Polo and the Liberales do not endorse fully the anti FARC combat and find relevant themes for Colombians.
So all seemed to be set for a third term of Uribe without Uribe through his successful ex defense Minister, Santos, of proven FARC destroying ability.
And then came Mockus.
I am not a specialist of Colombian politics and certainly cannot explain the intricacies of what is going on. At best I pretend to describe how a foreigner understands Colombia's current situation, one that is monitored closely by Venezuela since our destinies are joint at the hip through our extensive common border.
Antanas Mockus has been the successful mayor of Bogota. He is the one that started the recovery of a city caught in fear from guerrilla terror while beset by modern problems associated with third world cities growing pains. And in a single tenure he managed the awesome feat of bringing back to Bogotans self esteem. So much has his success been that his successors (no immediate reelection in Colombia then) had to follow his basic guidelines transforming the disaster of Bogota into one of the most pleasant cities of South America, as I could see by myself three years ago. He was reelected Bogota mayor a couple of terms later.
Antanas Mockus would never be elected president of Venezuela. In fact, he probably would never make it even to second position. He is too intellectual, too much of an academic manager to please the Venezuelan crowds with desires of immediate rewards if they vote for candidate X. He is also too white, too foreign, for Venezuelans. The only fully white president of Venezuela in about a century was Caldera, and he was probably as obviously intellectual as Venezuelan people would be willing to accept. The last time an intellectual candidate run it was Uslar Pietri in 1963 and no one dared to try after they saw what happened to poor Uslar at the hands of ADecos, the chavistas of that time. The only semi intellectual candidates to run since, and lose, were Eduardo Fernandez and Alvarez Paz. In fact, now that I think of it, the defeat of brilliant Uslar Pietri probably turn off from politics the true elites of the country, the educated ones who either turned to the radical left (Petkoff et al.) or simply ignored politics, finding them too dirty for them and eventually allowing for pseudo-antipolitical monstrosities like Chavez to reach power.
Antanas Mockus would of course be my kind of candidate. He is fluent in French because he got his doctorate in Philosophy in France. He also got there a masters in mathematics so at least he understands how science works. And like me he is a product of the French system of schools overseas getting his high School degree at the Lycee Pasteur of Bogota. A short bio also states that he is a non believer which makes it even more remarkable that he is reaching such success in Catholic Colombia. An always questionable Wiki bio gives an impressive resume. And he has proven management abilities and creativity for solutions. In other words, he is a civilian, an educated man, well read, and a thinker, antipodal of, well, Chavez. Even if Green parties are linked to the left (1), that does not seem to be the case for him and we can doubt very much that he would be a friend of Chavez. His success, from his own words, seem to come much more from a personal appeal and spontaneous movement than whatever the Colombian Greens are doing for him, making sure he would not be their hostage if he were to win in the end (which I doubt, but then again I did not think Chavez could win either....)
At any rate, it is doubtful that Mockus will prevail in the end, even if his admitted mild Parkinson has not hurt him. 40% woudl be a notable achievement. Mockus is probably too far from the agrarian masses of Colombia who would vote for the anti FARC candidate, Santos, at least in the second round. If Mockus wants to win the second round he is going to have to curse Chavez and the FARC, which he could do as he already is promising that the "Seguridad Democratica" policies of Urbe will be maintained. If he keeps on, conflict with Chavez would be inevitable as Chavez will consider him a civilian weakling and test him very soon.
I think the Colombian establishment is quite scared already, as not only Uribe made the blunder to intervene in the campaign to attack Mockus, but there is already talk of the union of all traditional parties against Mockus in a second run if necessary. And yet I do not think that a Mockus presidency is such a thing to fear. A US Democractic Congress would vote ipso facto the FTA if Mockus is elected, though as a concession to his green, center left base Mockus might not want to get an FTA (it is less of a consensus as the "Seguridad Democratica", I understand). Mockus seems also intelligent enough to understand that the "seguridad democratica" is supported by a huge majority of Colombians, that it is successful and that peace with the FARC is impossible. In fact under Mockus we could see additional creativity to an Uribe who seems to be unable to transition from a military victory to a political victory: the FARC is defeated but not eliminated.
Mockus in fact could be a right wing Green President since the legislature he inherits is controlled by Uribe folks. From the start Mockus would have to form a large coalition government that would have to be in the Center, anti FARC and anti Chavez, or he would be unable to rule and the country would fall fast into chaos. After his success as Bogota mayor, twice, I doubt that Mockus would speak of constitutional assembly and rather do as Uribe in his first term when he run as a dissident Liberal without congressional majority.
Whatever it is, I am green with envy at a country which can run such a fascinating campaign, with such qualified people after having had the courage to bar from a third term a successful president. We are so far behind in Venezuela that words fail me. Not one of Venezuela's current leaders, from Chavez to Ramos Allup, can compare to Santos, Sanin, Mockus and even the minor candidates. Watch the TV debates if you do not believe me.
1) I have always wondered why Green had to be associated with left, hence its general inability at reaching power as the traditional left holds its hostage just as it holds hostage gay movements and other civilian progressive movements. The right should have long ago tried to reclaim the Green label, something not that difficult when one realizes that the survival of our species makes common sense for all. The conservative moral right has lost great opportunities by not embracing fast enough social concerns such as abortion, gay rights, climate change, clean water, etc.... If the post Marx left has survived to this day it is because it sucked in such movements that were not necessary for theirs to grab.