March 29, 2018 / 10:30 PM / 21 days ago

Factbox - Mexico's presidential candidates at the start of campaigning

(Reuters) - Campaigning for Mexico’s elections officially begins on Friday, with a left-wing candidate who promises to clean up politics and reduce the country’s dependence on the United States leading all major opinion polls for the presidency.

Here are some facts on the presidential candidates:

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR

Two-time runner up Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, is running on an anti-corruption platform with his National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party and he has a double-digit lead in opinion polls.

He could usher in a Mexican government less accommodating towards the United States, where President Donald Trump has stoked trade tensions with Mexico and aggressively moved to curb immigration.

Variously described as a leftist, a populist and a nationalist, 64 year-old Lopez Obrador has aimed for a moderate tone in this campaign, touting a slogan of “peace and love” and saying he is not looking for revenge against the current government.

But Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, has also promised to review recently awarded oil contracts and threatened to cancel the capital’s new airport, spooking investors.

When he narrowly lost his first presidential bid in 2006, he contested the result and organised a sit-in that closed one of the main thoroughfares in Mexico City for weeks, causing chaos. Lopez Obrador says he has changed since then.

RICARDO ANAYA

The youngest of the four presidential candidates, Anaya sprung to prominence when he took over presidency of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in 2015.

Born in the small, central state of Queretaro, the 39 year-old career politician helped the party take more than 10 of the country’s governorships for the first time in its history.

His main proposals include a universal basic income and a international commission to investigate the current government over corruption allegations.

Anaya has been criticized for his frequent trips to Atlanta where his wife and three children lived and over a real estate deal the ruling party said was money laundering.

Anaya denied the allegations.

He joined the PAN as a law student and held several senior positions in the Queretaro state government between 2002 and 2009 before becoming the president of the federal lower house in 2013.

JOSE ANTONIO MEADE

At the end of 2017, in an attempt to clean up its image and as Lopez Obrador took off in opinion polls, the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) chose a non-member as its candidate for the first time.

Meade, 49, has served in five different ministerial jobs including minister of foreign affairs, social development, energy and finance under PRI and PAN governments.

His critics blame him for a hike in gas prices in 2017 that led to protests across Mexico and spiked inflation, and tie him to corruption accusations at departments he ran. He denies any wrongdoing.

MARGARITA ZAVALA

Zavala is the only independent candidate on the ballot after a scandal over falsified signatures knocked out two of her opponents.

The former first lady left the PAN in 2017, in a split with fellow candidate Ricardo Anaya. Mexico City-born Zavala would be Mexico’s first ever female president.

In the 1990s, Zavala was a lawmaker in the Mexico City assembly and the chief lawyer for the PAN’s executive committee. She was later a federal congresswoman.

She faces criticism for her husband Felipe Calderon’s policy of putting soldiers on the streets when he was president, during a war on drug gangs that saw tens of thousands killed.

If elected, Zavala says she would withdraw the troops.

Reporting by Diego Ore; compiled by Christine Murray; editing by Grant McCool

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