India's Shashi Tharoor came in second again in another straw poll as South Korea's Ban Ki Moon emerged as the clear front-runner in the race for the next United Nations Secretary General.
Tharoor, currently UN undersecretary-general for public affairs, got 10 positive votes in Thursday's informal poll at the Security Council just as he had done in the last one, July 24, but this time he got three negative votes with two expressing no opinion.
South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon, on the other hand, picked up two more votes to win support from 14 of the 15 Security Council members in the process to choose a successor to Kofi Annan at the end of the year.
The lead of the South Korean candidate is now thought by many diplomats to be unassailable unless the lone "no" vote in the secret ballot came from one of the council's five veto powers-Britain, China, France, Russia and the US.
Even then, it would be hard for the hold out not to bow to the groundswell of support among other council members.
In third place was Surakiart Sathirathai, the Thai deputy prime minister, who received nine votes in favour and three against.
He was followed by the only new entry, Jordan's UN ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, who got six votes with four against.
In last place was Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, the former head of the UN's disarmament department, who received three votes with five against.
A "no" vote from one of the five veto-wielding permanent Security Council members sinks a candidacy. Candidates can come forward until the last minute, and the final vote is not expected until October.
In Thursday's poll, the 15 council members checked one of three boxes for each candidate: "Encourage", "discourage" and "no opinion".
Under a prior agreement, a further straw poll is to be held on September 28 under different rules that will make clear if a "no" vote comes from a veto power.
Once a consensus is reached, the Security Council will hold a formal vote and forward its candidate to be endorsed by the 192-member UN General Assembly.
According to UN convention, the next Secretary-General should come from Asia. Zeid, the only Muslim in the race, had received a favourable response from many diplomats when he announced his candidacy last week.
Still, there had been questions about whether Jordan can be considered a part of Asia, even though it is a member of the United Nations' Asian Group.
Annan is the seventh secretary general in the 61-year-history of the United Nations. A secretary general is selected for a five-year term but can be re-elected. The Security Council selects a secretary general, who then has to be confirmed by the 192-member General Assembly.