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Wednesday, February 28, 2018
MARGARITA ZAVALA, CALDERON"S WIFE in 2006 Runs for president.
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The wife of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Margarita Zavala, said on Sunday she would seek to emulate her husband by running for the presidency in 2018, and left open the prospect of staging an independent bid.
A former congresswoman for the center-right National Action Party (PAN), Zavala made a broad appeal across the political spectrum in a spartan two-minute video, saying she would work to improve the economy and the rule of law in Mexico.
Public anger over impunity, political corruption and sluggish economic growth have created widespread discontent with the government of Calderon’s successor, President Enrique Pena Nieto of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
The 47-year-old Zavala was a popular first lady during her husband’s 2006-2012 PAN administration, which became increasingly bogged down in a bloody struggle against violent drug gangs, culminating in the party’s fall from power.
Zavala’s bid also appeared to be a challenge to the PAN, whose leadership was criticized by her supporters when she sought and was denied a spot on the list of safe seats on offer in lower house legislative elections held last weekend.
Though Pena Nieto’s approval ratings have hit multi-year lows, the PAN has been riven by infighting and finished a distant second in the vote to the PRI.
Formal campaigning will only begin a few months before the presidential elections scheduled for mid-2018 and no clear PAN front-runner has yet emerged.
Zavala, wearing black and standing against a white screen, did not say whether she would be seeking the PAN nomination, instead hinting at the option of an independent candidacy.
“I will put together, hand in hand with the people, a national campaign that of course includes PAN supporters, but also those who have voted for other political alternatives and those who have stopped believing in parties,” she said.
A recent change in Mexico’s electoral law now allows independent candidates to run for high office.
The PRI was hammered by the new rules during last Sunday’s elections when a party renegade easily claimed the governorship of Nuevo Leon, a northern state and a principal engine of the Mexican economy.
Federico Berrueto, director general of polling firm GCE, said Zavala’s best hope of winning was with the PAN because she seemed too closely associated with Calderon to be truly independent.
“The mood in Mexico at the moment favors candidates or parties who are basically against everything,” he said.