Photo via Colombia Reports
Many nations have Green Parties, but many voters from those nations couldn't even name a Green Party leader if you asked them to. Quick, who was the United States' Green Party presidential candidate in 2008? Even if you said Ralph Nader, you'd be wrong -- he ran for president as an independent. The Green candidate would be Cynthia McKinney, a congresswoman from Georgia. Point is, many Green Parties don't tend to get a lot of love, even as the green movement continues to grow. Which is why it's a pleasant surprise that Colombia is about to elect the world's first president on a Green Party platform: Antanas Mockus. Ben Jervey reports for GOOD:
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.)And yes, just to make clear, that's mimes not mines, as I read it the first time -- which wouldn't exactly be the greenest way to combat paralyzing traffic . . .
Anyhow. Mockus is reported to have plans to fill his cabinet with very green-leaning officials, including "enlightened livable streets urbanist Enrique Peñalosa." And Jervey notes that Mockus victory is mostly going to be a result of his populism and charisma, not any distinct green policy initiatives. Many Colombians apparently didn't even know they had a Green Party before Mockus' meteoric rise.
All the better -- his election can help raise the profile for Greens worldwide, and lend greater legitimacy to the political brand. Let's see if other Green Parties can take advantage of the momentum from the victory to spread its message of advocating environmentalism, grassroots democracy, social equality, and populism to even further reaches of the public sphere.