Saturday, January 12, 2013
Czech Presidential candidate Vladimir Franz takes part in a pre-election TV debate in Prague, Czech Republic, on Jan. 10, 2013.
Presidential candidates Vladimir Franz, center, Milos Zeman, right, and Premysl Sobotka, left, talk prior to a television debate in Prague on Jan. 10, 2013. The Czech Republic holds the first round of the Presidential election on Jan. 11-12.
The Associated Press reports — He's tattooed from head to toe, a warrior-like mix of blue, green and red.
He's also running in a surprising third place ahead of this week's Czech presidential elections.
Vladimir Franz, an opera composer and painter, seems the most unlikely of candidates for a prestigious post previously held by beloved playwright-dissident Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus, a professor credited with plotting the economic transition from communism to a free market.
Presidential candidates (L-R) Premysl Sobotka, Milos Zeman, Vladimir Franz, Jiri Dientsbier and Karel Schwarzenberg attend a TV debate on Jan. 10, 2013 in Prague.
Some have a nickname for Franz: 'Avatar.' And during a televised debate a caller compared him to "an exotic creature from Papua New Guinea."
But he's not short of admirers in a country where voters are increasingly tired of politicians they say are corrupt and failing to deliver on years of promises, more than two decades after the fall of communism.
Vladimir Franz react as he stands in front of supporters, cheering as he announces the collection of 88,388 signatures to become eligible for the Czech presidential elections, on Nov. 5, 2012 in Prague. "The world of art gives you the capacity to speak authentically about things, you're not infected with the newspeak that people are so fed up with these days," Franz told AFP.