Margarita Zavala, the wife of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, said on Sunday that she will run for the presidency in 2018.
In her video announcement, she said she would not run for the leadership of the main opposition National Action Party (PAN).
One of the top three parties in Mexico, the centre-right PAN received 21 percent of votes at last week’s parliamentary election, a distant second to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) despite the government being hounded for political corruption and disappointing economic growth.
“I will not contend the leadership. The party has men and women in the height of this challenge and I trust that in PAN we can make the best decision. For these reasons I have decided that in the times that signal the electoral law, I will seek to become the president of the republic,” she said in the video posted to her Twitter account, TeleSUR reported.
Amigas y amigos, les comparto un mensaje: http://t.co/pFX9JbCUX4
— Margarita Zavala (@Mzavalagc) June 14, 2015
A former congressman for PAN, Zavala sought but was denied a spot on the list of “safe seats” in the lower house legislative elections held last weekend, Reuters reported.
Saying she would work on the economy and rule of law, Zavala made an inclusive speech appealing to voters across the political spectrum.
“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.
Zavala’s statement, which did not specify whether she would seek the PAN nomination, was interpreted by some as an independent bid.
Independent candidates can now run for high office in Mexico thanks to a recent change in electoral law.
Recently, a former PRI member, Jaime Heliodoro “El Bronco” Rodriguez Calderon ran as an independent candidate for the northern state of Nuevo Leon and became the first independent candidate to have won a governorship in Mexico.
Federico Berrueto, director general of GCE (Gabinete de Comunicacion Estrategica), a polling firm, told Reuters that Zavala’s best hope of winning was with the PAN because she seemed too closely associated with her husband’s legacy to be truly independent.
“The mood in Mexico at the moment favors candidates or parties who are basically against everything,” he said.
Zavala’s husband Calderon, a PAN party member, was the president of Mexico from 2006 to 2012. Calderon was an avid supporter of George Bush’s “war on drugs” and during his regime Mexico became militarised and thousands of people were “disappeared.” The increasingly bloody conflict between the government and the drug gangs eventually led to PAN’s fall from power.