MEXICO CITY – The head of Mexico's conservative National Action Party presented his resignation Saturday, positioning himself to run for president as the candidate of a left-right coalition in an increasingly crowded field.
Ricardo Anaya is poised to become the standard-bearer of the Forward for Mexico coalition comprising the National Action, Democratic Revolution and Citizens' Movement parties, which formally registered their alliance with election authorities Friday night.
An agreement between the parties stipulates that National Action gets to pick the presidential candidate while Democratic Revolution, or PRD, will run one of its own for the powerful office of Mexico City mayor.
"This electoral coalition will not only win the elections but achieve a deep transformation," Anaya said after the coalition was registered.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, who had also been angling to be the alliance's candidate, said he had learned of the decision from his party late Friday.
"I respect the decision by the PRD because I owe it loyalty, although I deeply regret that no method or procedure has been given to compete openly and democratically," Mancera said Saturday.
He added that he had declined an invitation to take part in the coalition's campaign leadership and would instead serve out his term as mayor overseeing Mexico City's recovery from a deadly earthquake in September.
National Action and the PRD originated on nearly opposite sides of the political spectrum, but they have put aside hostility several times to jointly back gubernatorial candidates in an effort to topple the long-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
But until now they have never backed a common presidential candidate.
Both parties have been riven by internal divisions that have split off important factions.
Former first lady Margarita Zavala has left National Action, known as the PAN, and is collecting signatures to get on the July 1, 2018, ballot as an independent.
Meanwhile two-time PRD presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador split with that party in recent years and now leads in early campaign polls as the candidate for the leftist Morena party that he founded.
All will be looking to unseat the PRI, of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which governed the country for seven decades before losing to the PAN in 2000 and 2006.
The PRI reclaimed the presidency in the 2012 election. Pena Nieto is ineligible to run again due to a ban on re-election.