Classical music composer and presidential candidate Vladimir Franz answers questions to media prior a rehearsal of his opera "War with the Newts" at the State Opera in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Franz is one of nine candidates running for President in the first round of the Presidential election on Jan. 11-12th, 2013. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
PRAGUE (AP) — An opera composer and painter tattooed from head to toe is running in a surprising third place ahead of this week's Czech presidential elections.
Vladimir Franz 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.
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.
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