MEXICO CITY – Josefina Vazquez Mota was granted a leave of absence from Mexico’s Congress to pursue her bid for the 2012 presidential nomination of the ruling conservative National Action Party, or PAN.
The members of the lower house unanimously approved their colleague’s request.
Vazquez Mota, the PAN leader in the lower house, asked Tuesday for the indefinite leave of absence, saying she needed to devote herself full time to seeking the nomination.
The lawmaker thanked her PAN colleagues and lawmakers from six other parties in the lower house for their efforts to compromise and reach agreement on legislation during her tenure.
In her request, Vazquez Mota, who would be the country’s first female head of state, said the lower house must avoid “being the hostage of electoral contests” and called for more progress in legislative reforms to improve Mexicans’ quality of life.
Representatives of different parties in turn acknowledged her work in Congress and wished her success with her new pursuit.
Vazquez Mota’s seat in the lower house will be occupied by her alternate, Miguel Novoa, while Carlos Ramirez Marin will take over the leadership of the PAN in that legislative body.
Vazquez Mota currently leads voter-preference surveys among those hoping to be the PAN’s standard-bearer in July 2012. The candidates for the nomination will face one another in a primary set for late this year.
She said in a statement posted on her Web site earlier this week that she wanted to devote all her time to “listening to the citizens of the entire country” so she could “put together and consolidate the PAN’s new platform.”
The congresswoman said she would go to all the places in Mexico “where no other PAN member has gone.”
“My campaign will not be waged merely on the premise that I am a woman,” Vazquez Mota said, adding that she would “govern like a woman” and not try to “imitate the men.”
Vazquez Mota became the first woman to head the Social Development Secretariat in 2000 in the administration of the PAN’s Vicente Fox.
She went on to serve as education secretary from 2006 to 2009 under the current president, PAN stalwart Felipe Calderon.
The Mexican Constitution limits presidents to a single six-year term.
Fox’s victory in 2000 ended 71 years of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, but that once-dominant political grouping is favored to recapture the presidency next year. EFE