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| 5/28/2010 12:00:00 AM

Philosopher Antanas Mockus rattles Colombia election

May 28--Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus – a mathematician, philosopher, and former mayor Bogotá – has seen a surge in popularity in the Colombia election. What sets him apart, he tells the Monitor, is his 'decency.'

he airport security guard's wand squealed when it passed over the pocket of presidential candidate Antanas Mockus's trousers as he prepared to embark on a recent campaign trip.
 
Puzzled, Mr. Mockus reached in and pulled out a No. 2 pencil with a metallic band around the eraser.

"They discovered my weapon," he says, recalling the incident with an impish smile. The pencil is one of the symbols of his campaign, which emphasizes education as a tool to transform society.

A few months ago, no one thought Mockus – a mathematician, philosopher, and former mayor of Colombia's capital, Bogotá – had much of a chance in the elections, but his unorthodox campaign style has turned Col­ombia's race for the presidency on its head.

Rising from a distant 3 percent in opinion polls in March, Mockus has surged over 30 percent, placing him in a dead heat with former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, considered the heir to the legacy of the famously popular president, Álvaro Uribe.

The latest Ipsos-Napoleon Franco poll gives Mr. Santos 34 percent of the vote in the first round, compared with 32 percent for Mockus. But if neither candidate secures the 50 percent of the vote needed to win outright in the first round, Mockus would win a run-off with 45 percent to Santos’ 40 percent on June 20, according to the May 23 poll.
 
Read more here.
 
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