MEXICO CITY – Former first lady Margarita Zavala announced on Wednesday that she was withdrawing from the race to be the next president of Mexico, 45 days before the vote.
“I have decided to let citizens know that I am withdrawing my candidacy from the race on the principle of congruency and political honesty,” she said during an interview on the Televisa network.
Zavala said she was “freeing” her supporters, so that they could “make their decision” regarding who to vote for.
The wife of former President Felipe Calderon left the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) in October 2017 because of disagreements with the party’s leadership, subsequently deciding to run as an independent candidate for the July 1 presidential elections.
Recent polls, however, showed that a mere 4 percent of Mexicans planned to vote for her.
The PAN candidate, Ricardo Anaya, has been placed second in most polls, with close to 28 percent of respondents planning to vote for him, although he is still far from left-leaning frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose support is around 45 percent.
Zavala became the first independent candidate to officially run for president in Mexico.
During the campaign, the former first lady defended the actions of Calderon during his 2006-2012 term, which witnessed an explosion of violence associated with the then-president’s decision to give the military the leading role in the fight against drug cartels.
On July 1, close to 89 million Mexicans will be able to vote to elect the president, members of Congress, eight state governors and the mayor of Mexico City, which are among the more than 3,400 elective positions up for grabs at the federal, state and municipal levels.
With Zavala’s withdrawal, four candidates are left in the race: Lopez Obrador, Anaya, the candidate of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Jose Antonio Meade and independent candidate Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez Calderon.