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Defeated presidential candidate cuts all party ties

September 11, 2012

Having lost and failed to overturn the results of July’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced his withdrawal from Mexico’s leftist coalition.

Addressing tens of thousands of supporters in Mexico City’s Zocalo on Sunday, the veteran politician said he was leaving the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Labor Party (PT) and Citizen’s Movement in order to focus on transforming Mexico through his National Regeneration Movement (Morena).

“This isn’t a rupture, I leave on the best of terms” Lopez Obrador said. “I have separated from the parties that form the Progressive Movement, but I must express my deep gratitude to all party leaders and supporters.”

Lopez Obrador is widely expected to turn Morena into a political party later this year. He built the social movement while touring every municipality in the country following his narrow defeat to Felipe Calderon in the 2006 election.

The future of Morena will be decided at a national conference attended by 125,000 members on November 19 and 20. The movement claims some four million members from 2,500 municipalities in 66,740 electoral districts.

“With Morena we will defend those who suffer injustice, protect the weak and care for our national heritage,” Lopez Obrador promised on Sunday.

Although he has amassed great national support, Lopez Obrador remains a divisive personality weighed down with political baggage. He refuses to recognize the victory of Enrique Peña Nieto, but the PRD, now  the second biggest force in Congress, must accept that it is irreversible, move on and concentrate on its legislative agenda.

Lopez Obrador’s departure may enable the Mexican left to move forward with a clean slate under Marcelo Ebrard, who has already succeeded him once as mayor of Mexico City. Ebrard described his former mentor’s transformation of Morena into a political party as a “logical and predictable” move on Tuesday, but warned that the left must maintain unity.

“The worst thing we can do is go into the [2018] elections as every man for himself,” Ebrard said. While Lopez Obrador will enjoy greater political freedom having split with the PRD, if he were to run for president again as a Morena candidate he would risk splitting the leftist vote and condemning both himself and Ebrard to failure.

At a press conference on Monday, Lopez Obrador’s regional ally Enrique Alfaro ruled out joining Morena, affirming that his “political path is with the Citizen’s Movement.”

Alfaro insisted he had not split with Lopez Obrador and plans to meet with him next week. The former mayor of Tlajomulco reserved his criticism for the PRD, with whom he also cut his ties earlier this year.

“The PRD does not meet the conditions to form the backbone of the project we are talking about,” said Alfaro, who missed out on the Jalisco governorship in the July 1 election.

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