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Independent Presidential Candidates

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Mexico has only permitted independent candidacies to run for the presidency since the 2012 constitutional reforms. In order to be included in the voter ballot, independent candidates approved by the National Electoral Institute (INE) must collect signatures from 1 percent of the national voter roll (or 866,593 signatures for this election). These signatures must also be distributed among at least 17 federal states or districts and must comprise at least 1 percent of the registered voters in each. This process must be completed within 120 days, between Oct. 16 and Feb. 19.

For the 2018 elections, aspiring independent candidates had until Oct. 9 to register their intent to run with the INE. However, because of the Sept. 9 earthquake in Mexico City, the deadline was extended to Oct. 14. A total of 86 candidates had registered their intention to run, with eight candidates declared ineligible to run for failing to meet some requirements as of Oct. 18. In addition, 38 candidates are in the process of substantiating their compliance with elections rules, and 40 candidates have received permission to begin collecting signatures as of midnight on Oct. 16. For up-to-date information on how many signatures each independent candidate has collected, visit (Spanish).


Current Contender



Jaime Rodriguez Calderón

On April 4, the Upper Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Branch of the Federation ordered the INE to reinstate Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, commonly referred to as “El Bronco,” as an independent candidate for Mexico’s presidency. The INE had announced on March 16 that Rodriguez Calderon had not received enough signatures to be officially recognized as an independent candidate and to be included on the ballot. Rodríguez Calderón holds a bachelor’s in agricultural engineering from the Autonomous University of Nuevo León. After completing his education, he became affiliated with the PRI and began his political career, serving as mayor of the city of García and as a local representative and federal deputy in the 1990s. In 2015, he became the first independent candidate to become elected governor of any state, winning governorship of the state of Nuevo León.

He officially announced his candidacy on Oct. 4, 2017, during the registration window for independent candidates. He proceeded to register as an independent presidential candidate with the INE on Oct. 15. Since he did not become a candidate, he has remained in his position as governor.


Former Contender



Margarita Zavala

On May 16, 2018, Margarita Zavala, an independent candidate for Mexico's presidency, announced that she is dropping out of the race. According to the Los Angeles Times, "she said she was withdrawing 'on the principle of political honesty and a sense of congruency,'" and to free her supporters to "make the decision they need to make in this difficult race.'"

Margarita Zavala is the former first lady of Mexico. She initially sought the National Action Party’s (PAN) nomination until September 2017, when the party announced that it would form a coalition with the PRD and Movimiento Ciudadano. The wife of former President Felipe Calderón, Zavala holds a bachelor's degree in law from the Escuela Libre de Derecho of Mexico. She also has held teaching positions at the Iberoamerican University and Asuncion Institute and worked for several law firms early in her career before turning to politics, becoming an active member of PAN. Zavala was a member of the Federal District’s Legislative Assembly from 1994 to 1997 and of the Chamber of Deputies from 2003 to 2006. She also advocated for the creation of the National Institute of Women (Inmujeres).

Zavala announced her candidacy for the upcoming presidential race on June 14, 2015, via a video posted on various social media outlets. On October 6, 2017, Zavala announced that she would be leaving the PAN, arguing that its alliance with the PRD and Movimiento Ciudadano precluded her candidacy and that the party’s leadership was seeking to impede her nomination. She registered with the National Electoral Institute (INE) as an independent candidate on Oct. 12, 2017.

Page content last updated on May 16, 2018