No Green Party, Twitter-Driven Miracle In Colombia as Santos Wins Big

Millions of Colombians turned out to the polls yesterday to elect a new president, and the environment, Facebook, and free-thinking lost out to security, money and familiarity.

That's oversimplifying, of course, but for the last couple weeks it looked like Colombians might throw a wrench into the system by backing a Green Party candidate known for cleaning up Bogota with his eccentric plans -- including an army of mimes hired to shame bad drivers into following the laws.

But with 99 percent of the ballots cast, the Green Party candidate -- Antanas Mockus, a mathematics professor and former Bogota mayor -- captured just 21.5 percent of the vote. Juan Manuel Santos, the defense minister under current president Alvaro Uribe, doubled Mockus up, taking 46.6 of the ballots in a nine-way race.

All isn't lost for the Mockus camp: Santos didn't capture 50 percent of the vote, so he'll still face a run-off election against Mockus.

But the landslide of votes for Santos seems to suggest that polls showing Mockus and Santos neck-and-neck underestimated the support for Uribe's party, which is widely credited with reducing Colombia's murder rate and crushing the FARC insurgency.

Mockus' poor showing, meanwhile, shoots down talk that Colombia's election might have been South America's first decided by the social media that Barack Obama helped harness for his historic win.

Mockus has more than 700,000 fans on Facebook and 52,000 Twitter followers, and drew a lot of fans with his unconventional style and focus on education and environmental preservation.

Besides his famous traffic mimes, he also convinced thousands of wealthy families to pay a voluntary tax to improve infrastructure and taunted rebels by wearing a bulletproof vest with a hole cut out over his heart.

When he was rector of a university in Bogota, Mockus also famously mooned a rowdy gathering of students to get their attention.

Santos, whom Mockus criticized for his human rights record, apparently convinced voters that the security gains made by Uribe would be threatened under the Mockus' Green Party.

A runoff between the two is scheduled for June 20.

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