MEXICO: Mayor Marcelo Ebrard is in campaign mode -- for president
REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- The mayor of Mexico City has thrown himself into the running for Mexico's presidency, making him the latest high-profile figure to enter the 2012 election fray.
Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, a career leftist who governs one of the largest urban centers on the planet, said last week that he would step down from his post by Jan. 1, in compliance with federal campaign rules, to devote himself to the race (link in Spanish).
Over the weekend, while visiting the cities of Guanajuato and Queretaro, Ebrard said Mexico was in need of a "new social pact" founded on "leftist ideals" that could appeal to voters who don't initially consider supporting the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD.
"The left must propose a different route, with new arguments," Ebrard said (link in Spanish). "We've seen results in the biggest city in the country."
Ebrard might be popular in the Federal District, as Mexico City is formally known, but he has plenty of obstacles ahead of him if he hopes to upset the former ruling party's plans to retake power in 2012.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is leading in polls by large margins, and a fragile yet visible consensus appears to be forming around Mexico state Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto's bid to head its ticket. Peña Nieto went on television last week to confirm what everybody had concluded: that, yes, he's in too.
Ebrard's first serious hurdle may be his former boss, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a divisive figure who nonetheless commands a wide base of passionate supporters in the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. Lopez Obrador, also a former Mexico City mayor, plans to run in 2012, creating the possibility that the Mexican left would split.
Lopez Obrador narrowly lost the 2006 election after a fiercely contested partial recount that left bruises and bad blood across Mexico's political institutions. Lopez Obrador, who maintains the election was stolen, has not ceased campaigning for the last six years, declaring himself the "legitimate president."
Ebrard, who was Mexico City police chief under Lopez Obrador, reportedly polls better with the general electorate but trails Lopez Obrador among the ranks of the PRD (link in Spanish).
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard makes an early campaign stop for the 2012 presidential election, in Guanajuato, Mexico, Sept. 25, 2011. Credit: Milenio