MEXICO CITY – Jose Antonio Meade resigned on Monday as Mexico’s finance secretary to launch his campaign for the ruling party’s 2018 presidential election.
“I will request to register as a pre-candidate for the presidency of the republic with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). I do this after 20 years of uninterruptedly serving my country with integrity and honor,” he said during an event at the National Palace, which houses the Finance Secretariat.
Meade, a political independent, announced his candidacy flanked by senior officials of the secretariat.
Aspirants to the PRI nomination must register by Dec. 3 and the nominee is to be chosen at a party convention on Feb. 18.
“With my experience, I have the conviction that the country has the talent and conditions for ... Mexico to be a great power,” Meade said.
The Yale-educated economist and lawyer has held four different Cabinet positions over the last six years.
After serving as energy secretary during the 2006-2012 National Action Party (PAN) administration of Felipe Calderon, Meade was tapped by the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto as foreign secretary.
He subsequently handled the Social Development portfolio before becoming finance secretary in September 2016.
Meade, 48, said that if elected, he would strive as president to make Mexico a country where families “always have food on the table and security on the streets.”
Three other Cabinet members thought to harbor presidential ambitions: Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño, Health Secretary Jose Narro and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, conveyed their best wishes to Meade as he embarks on a new chapter.
Another PRI heavyweight who was expected to enter the contest, Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chang, indicated Monday that he would not be throwing his hat in the ring.
In August, the PRI changed its rules to allow non-members to seek nominations – a move widely seen as setting the stage for Meade’s candidacy.
Jose Antonio Gonzalez, CEO of state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, will succeed Meade as finance secretary.
The PRI, which has governed Mexico for all but 12 years since 1929, faces a difficult prospect in 2018 amid growing disgust with government and the political class in reaction to rising violence and an economy that is failing to deliver improvements in living standards for the majority.