Mexico's ex-first lady launches independent presidential run
- Mexico's former first lady Margarita Zavala announced Friday she will stand as an independent in presidential elections next year, ditching the country's main opposition party and shaking up the race.
Zavala (50) is the wife of former president Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) and a popular conservative in her own right, having served as a lawmaker for the National Action Party (PAN).
But she was unhappy with the party leadership over what she called an opaque candidate selection process that she concluded would hand the nomination to PAN President Ricardo Anaya.
"I would have liked to (run) for the PAN. I did everything in my power to make it happen," she said in a video posted online.
But when she insisted on a transparent candidate selection process, party leaders were "evasive," she said.
Polls indicate Zavala is more popular than Anaya (38).
In fact, she is the second-most popular presidential prospect, after leftist radical Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Pundits were split over who would be the main beneficiary of her deci- sion: Lopez Obrador or the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is struggling to cling to power amid dismal approval ratings for President Enrique Pena Nieto -currently about 16 percent.
The president and his party have been battered by a series of corruption scandals and shocking rates of violent crime.