MEXICO CITY – Former first lady Margarita Zavala announced on Friday that she resigned from the conservative National Action Party (PAN) to run as an independent in Mexico’s 2018 presidential election.
“I formally present my resignation to the PAN. I am leaving without rancor,” Zavala said in a video posted on Twitter.
The wife of former President Felipe Calderon, who governed from 2006-2012, said she is leaving the PAN because the current leadership has prevented her from mounting a serious campaign for the party’s 2018 presidential nomination.
She accused PAN chairman Ricardo Anaya of “co-opting” the party’s structures with the aim of securing the presidential nomination for himself.
Mexicans will go to the polls on July 1, 2018, to choose a new president, members of Congress, eight state governors and the mayor of Mexico City.
Zavala, an attorney, said that she joined the PAN 33 years ago because she saw it as an honest, democratic party devoted to “the common good.”
Recalling that she made her presidential ambitions public in 2015, Zavala said her preference would have been to run as the candidate of the PAN.
But the party leaders, she said, ignored her proposals for “democratic methods” to choose the PAN presidential candidate.
Some polls show Zavala with the most support among prospective PAN standard-bearers.
The PAN is not set to choose its nominee until December, but Zavala said she could not wait for that process to play out because the deadline to register an independent candidacy is Oct. 14.
Zavala’s resignation announcement came hours after Anaya publicly appealed to the former first lady to embrace dialogue to “preserve the unity” of the PAN.
For the 2018 election, the PAN has entered into a coalition with the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in hopes of unseating the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
The latest voter surveys indicate the favorite in next year’s contest is leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who ran twice on the PRD ticket and now leads his own party, Morena.