Sunday, May 30, 2010

Four more years?

So, Santos slammed Mockus and appears headed to be Colombia's next president.

On the most basic level, this indicates that the polls undercounted rural residents, who often don't have telephones.

On another, it shows that, while Mockus may be the Obama of Colombia (an intellectual, outsider, without a political pedigree against a military man), Mockus's message didn't match the time. Obama's vacous 'change' mesage worked because Americans were sick of Bush, tired of a frustrating war and fearful for their jobs. In contrast, Pres. Alvaro Uribe maintains astronomical approval ratings (above 70%), Colombians are happy with his military progress against the guerrillas and the economy is growing, despite unjustifiable poverty rates.

In his pre-vote column in El Tiempo, Santos promised more of Uribe's policies and more jobs in the formal economy. Pretty boring stuff, but that's what many Colombians want - security and food on the table.

In contrast, Mockus's column in today's El Tiempo repeated his vague promise of change, and at his post-vote rally the crowd chanted 'I love life!' What's that supposed to mean? Sure, a not-very-disguised attack on Santos' warmaking. But nothign for a voter to embrace.

To the numbers: Santos got 46.50 % of the vote and Santos 21.5 %. All Santos has to pick up from the also-rans is 4 %, and he's president.

Of the others, German Vargas, of Cambio Radical got just more than 10% of the vote. Nearly all of his support will go to Santos.

Next came Gustavo Petro, of the far-left Polo Democratico with 9%. Some of his voters will support Mockus, but others will abstain in the second round, considering Mockus too centrist.

Noemí Sanín of the Conservative Party got 6%, almost all of which will go to Santos.

Liberal Rafael Pardo's 4.4% of the vote will likely split between Santos and Mockus.

All of which leaves Santos with an additional 18% or so, giving him about 64% in the second round. Or more, if would-be Mockus voters abstain because they conclude their man can't win.

This vote also shows the sad state of Colombia's traditionally powerful Liberal and Conservative parties, who for a century traded the presidency between them. It's good seeing the race open up, and means that in another four or eight years, when hopefully the military situation will have faded into the background, a touchy-feely intellectual like Mockus can win.

This blog written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

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