REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the presidential candidate who refused to accept defeat in 2006, once more claimed the nomination of the Mexican left in next year's election, while Mexico City's dynamic mayor, fellow leftist Marcelo Ebrard, agreed to relinquish his long-standing presidential aspirations, at least for now.
Lopez Obrador's return to the presidential fray established the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, and a couple of small leftist allies, as the first of Mexico's three major political camps to choose a candidate for 2012.
Ebrard will have to wait at least until 2018.
Lopez Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City, appeared to win a poll co-commissioned by both factions that would determine the PRD coalition candidate, and that both sides vowed to honor. Parties have until Friday to file for a coalition ticket, which is considered the only option for the badly divided left to mount a campaign that might challenge the resurgent Institutional Revolutionary Party, the formerly ruling PRI.
The poll results, released in a news conference Tuesday, showed Lopez Obrador winning three of five questions asked of 6,000 random Mexicans.
Ebrard's camp tried to argue in recent months that only he could draw in undecided voters next year and possibly win the first modern presidency for Mexico's left. A repeat Lopez Obrador candidacy, Ebrard's supporters also argued, would turn off voters who remain displeased with his handling of the aftermath of the disputed 2006 race.
"We could argue that we are basically tied, we could argue that I haven't had a media campaign [like Lopez Obrador]," Ebrard said at the joint news conference announcing the poll results. "The left divided will just fall into the precipice. I accept the results of this poll. I am loyal."
The two men shook hands and posed for news cameras, promising reconciliation.
"Marcelo is an exceptional political leader, extraordinary," Lopez Obrador said to applause. "Marcelo is giving us a lesson as a human being and as a politician.... We will build a wide progressive front."
Lopez Obrador lost the 2006 election by about half a percentage point to President Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party, results which Lopez Obrador never accepted and dubbed a "fraud." The candidate shut down major streets in Mexico City for weeks in protest, a strategy that lost him large chunks of support among the general population.
Despite this, his base remains passionate and devoted. On Tuesday outside the downtown Hilton, where the news conference took place, rowdy supporters hoisted signs for Lopez Obrador and chanted and cheered, while a woman passing by shouted, "This time we will win, senor!"
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, left, embraces Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard after a news conference Tuesday in Mexico City. Credit: Reuters