MEXICO CITY – Former first lady Margarita Zavala went to the offices of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute on Thursday to register as an independent candidate in the 2018 presidential election.
“We are going to demonstrate that politics can be conducted without pretense, without double-talk, without lies,” she said after filing her paperwork.
The wife of former President Felipe Calderon, who governed from 2006-2012, announced last Friday that she was leaving the conservative National Action Party (PAN) after 33 years to pursue an independent presidential run.
Zavala said she was quitting the PAN because the leadership had 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 nomination for himself.
Zavala and her team will now have four months to collect the 860,000 signatures required by law to get on the ballot as an independent.
“Mexico is great to the degree that citizens take responsibility in their hands, as was demonstrated a few days ago,” the former first lady said on Thursday, referring to the way ordinary people mobilized to help their neighbors following two major earthquakes last month.
The goal of her candidacy, Zavala said, is “the bright future that Mexico deserves, that we all deserve, and which will we build together.”
Zavala joins several other independents who are trying to get on the 2018 ballot, including indigenous activist Maria de Jesus and the maverick governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez.
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.
The PAN, who will not choose its presidential candidate until December, 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.