Certainly Mockus is a natural candidate for me to support, we do have so many things in common (except that he is smarter and more successful than me but that is another story). We are both the sons of European immigrants in a country where such people historically have had a hard time to make their mark, always looked at as foreigners no matter how much more we know about our country than the "natives" criticizing us. We both also have a French educational background; and if Mockus is not properly a scientist he certainly is rational in his reasoning and education (Cartesian? Who knows....).
But there are a few things that have bothered me a lot and are forcing me to review my position. No, I am not ready to switch to the Santos side but I am now definitely on the fence and will wait patiently for the second round vote to decide.
I am not going to discuss the silly scare in the fumble over Chavez when Mockus first admired him and then moved back to say that he respected him 'cause, you know, he got elected and stuff. Instead I am, going to discuss what that reflects possibly about the character of Antanas Mockus.
Since Mockus cannot be ignorant of what is going on inside Venezuela, since he is a democrat, since he is creative and brilliant then there are only two possible explanations for his "faux-pas".
- Mockus from his education has somehow internalized the theory of the good savage that European intelligentsia still carry (and too many of the US one for that matter) where they simply accept for African and Latin American leaders things that they would never accept in their own countries. That is, patronizing from a self-certified superior civilization. The natives are ignorant, exploited and what not so it is OK to rough up public management for their own good. Such a mind frame is found all across the political spectrum.
- Maybe actually Mockus does not know exactly what is going inside Venezuela. If he knew and is as intelligent as we are told he is, then he cannot have admired Chavez, or certainly not enough to say it publicly. Mockus cannot be ignorant of all the trouble Chavez has brought to Colombia, how many political prisoners are in Venezuelan jails today; how many people rot in jail without trials since Chavez took office; how many accusations of electoral fraud and corruption float like a permanent miasma in almost any serious article about Venezuela written today. Or is he? If he is that ignorant of what happens next door, then what does he know about what happens in Brazil or the US? Can Colombia afford a president who is only interested and knowledgeable on domestic policies?
Unfortunately we have at least two other reasons to question the ability of Mockus to have a successful presidential term. First, I am not sure he understands clearly what are the interests of the State. True, he has said that he would continue to be harsh on the FARC and ELN. But this is consensus in Colombia and any candidate that would deviate from that line would find the exit door early. Stating such a promise is to be simply taken a an electoral ploy at this point, even from Santos who once elected could chose other anti FARC approaches. But by giving the impression, briefly, that he agreed on Ecuador's case against Santos and Uribe, he has betrayed either his personal dislike of these people or his faked support for the "seguridad democratica". It is not that the Uribe years do not need to be reviewed and that some excess must be corrected, not even Santos would disagree with that. But Uribe and Santos acted in representation of the State and only the State can punish them, not Ecuador. Though the said State can punish on behalf of Ecuador if Ecuador proves the crime to be an actual crime outweighing the State interests of Colombia. So far Ecuador has only got the support of the ALBA in that matter. Eight years have passed since Uribe first election and the country is not the same; thus it requires a renewal in its approach to finish off the FARC threat. Where is the real Mockus position here?
Finally there is a very simple material point that makes a Mockus victory a worrying prospect: people seem to have happily forgotten that a few weeks ago Colombia elected a new congress and that the Uribe parties won a majority. Even if Mockus were to gather all the anti Uribe parties (and I doubt that the Polo or the Liberales would follow him happily anywhere) it would be at best a very unstable, a one vote like majority.
Are people expecting Mockus to dissolve the parliament when he reaches office? Is it legal for someone who claims to act according the the law? Who is he going to rule with? Does he has a secret agenda, constitutional assembly like, under his sleeve?
I think that it is quite possible, e.g., that Mockus could construct a provisional grand coalition centered around the Conservative Party of Colombia, the Liberales and the Polo leaving outside the Uribismo per se, at least until some form of mid term electoral contest where he could start building his own green party. After all that is more or less what Uribe did, starting as a dissident of the Liberal party. But without a clear message (Uribe was as clear as it got!) I do not see how Mockus can translate any electoral victory he gets next June.
Colombians need to start discussing these issues and before the second round ballot.
At any rate, the Santos camp has been very nice, politically speaking, to Mockus so far, being content to let himself step over as many feet as possible. The second round is another matter. As any smart candidate in a two round voting system, Santos knows that right now the goal is to get to the second round and then deploy the heavy weaponry. Mockus might ride high today but he needs to keep up for almost two moths still.....
Update: As a sign that Mockus is learning his lessons fast we get today a promise that the chavista revolution will not come to Colombia. Again, as this post point is, I do not doubt of the sincerity of Mockus and of his anti chavismo. What is in doubt here is his ability to stop chavista interference in Colombia. And he better prepare himself to prove it as Santos made a major shake up in his campaign team and it seems that the days of Mr. Nice Guys are over in for this campaign. To prepare his defense Mockus also insisted that many of the Uribe policies will be maintained under his administration. Maybe a sing that he knows he will need to look for a parliament majority with the unavoidable uribismo dominant in Congress?
This is turning out to be a hack of an election. Second only to what will happen tomorrow in the UK?