Meet 'Avatar,' Tattoo-Faced Underdog of the Czech Presidential Election

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Vladimir Franz has more face tattoos than Lil Wayne, but that hasn't hurt his poll numbers. The odd man out in the Czech presidential race has earned a sizable chunk of the vote by calling out ruling parties on corruption.

Pollsters predict Franz will take just over 11 percent of the vote in the Czech Republic's first round of the presidential election, which happens this weekend. That's enough to put the 53-year-old university professor and familiar face on Czech TV in third place. Running on a pro-education platform, Franz has a low opinion of the country's status quo leadership. Earlier this week he told AP's Karel Janicek, "The (political) system is so enchanted with itself that it's lost the ability to self-reflect ... [Czechs] are fed up with this crap." Strong words coming from a guy nicknamed Avatar:

Since the Czech Republic uses a run-off election for the presidency, the race will most likely come down to Social Democrat Miloš Zeman and right-wing contender Jan Fischer. Franz isn't expecting to win, but he's still skipping the national premiere of his new opera to participate in the last televised debate. Here's a snippet of the composer's work: 

The Czech Republic isn't such a strange place to find fringey politicians. After all, the country's first great post-communist leader Vaclav Havel drew inspiration from the Velvet Underground. Another fun fact: while the U.S. hasn't elected any presidents with visible ink yet, Theodore Roosevelt reportedly sported a family crest tattoo on his chest. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.