Colombia to (Almost Certainly) Elect World's First Green Leader

While it's tough to focus today on anything besides the "top kill" attempt down in the Gulf, the election down in Colombia certainly deserves some attention. Next Sunday, barring a massive surprise at the polls, the country will elect the first national leader from the Green Party in the world. Antanas Mockus, a philosophy professor and mathematician who had twice served as the mayor of Bogota (1995 to 1997, 2001 to 2003), is known for his playful, innovative leadership style. (As mayor, he combated paralizing traffic by deploying mimes to busy intersections to show drivers and pedestrians how to behave.)

His "green team" includes enlightened livable streets urbanist Enrique Peñalosa (who we've covered twice before), but some local environmental groups are warning against too-high hopes for even this Green Party candidate. "Unfortunately, the environment is not high on any candidate's agenda," says Martin Von Hildebrand, director of the Colombian environmental nonprofit Gaia Amazonas. Other Latin American enviros I've talked to have indicated that Mockus's success has more to do with his personality and track record as a popular mayor, and nothing at all to do with him running on a "green" platform. In fact, I'm told that few Colombians even knew of the Green Party before this election. Still, any ally of Peñalosa is good news in my book. And the world is soon to have an actual national leader from a "Green Party," which is pretty cool.

Photo (cc) by flickr user World Economic Forum