Financial Times | 4/30/2010 12:00:00 AM
Outsider's meteoric gains bring Colombia's elite down to earth
April 30--Colombia's presidential race has taken a similar unexpected turn to the UK's general election, with the meteoric rise of an erstwhile rank outsider who has tapped into dissatisfaction with the traditional political elite.
A strong performance in debates and an effective Twitter and Facebook campaign put Mr Mockus, a former mayor of Bogotá, ahead of Mr Santos, with 38 per cent of the vote compared with 29 per cent for Mr Santos this week, according to pollster Ipsos Napoleon Franco. Other polls showed the candidates level-pegging. In March he scored less than 10 per cent.
Mr Mockus, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, would triumph if voting went on to a second round, a Gallup poll also showed, although an Invamer Gallup poll gave Mr Santos 34.2 per cent and Mr Mockus 31.6 per cent.
"We are now assigning Mockus a 60 per cent chance of winning," says Patrick Esteruelas, Latin America director for Eurasia Group, the consultancy.
Mr Santos is the preferred candidate of Álvaro Uribe, the outgoing president, whose tough stance against Farc guerrillas and pro-business reforms helped make him one of the region's most popular leaders during his two terms.
Mr Mockus has vowed to continue many of Mr Uribe's policies, maintaining Colombia's favourable investment climate. Nonetheless, election uncertainty contributed to a weakening of the peso after the poll was released earlier this week.
Read more here.
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.