World Bulletin / News Desk
The top three contenders to be Mexico's next president start the race in earnest Sunday when their parties and coalitions officially nominate them as their candidates for the July 1 election.
The leader of the pack is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, a fiery leftist who has tried to present a mellower image this time around.
In second place is Ricardo Anaya of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), a youthful ex-lawmaker whose bid to campaign as a fresh face has been blotched by allegations of corruption and strongarming his way to his party's nomination.
Rounding out the top three is respected former finance minister Jose Antonio Meade, standing for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) -- a long-dominant force in Mexican politics whose popularity is now so low it tapped a non-party member to be its presidential candidate for the first time in its history.
Officially, the campaign does not open until March 30, but in practice Sunday's nominations will put the seal on what has already been a months-long "pre-campaign" setting up a three-way race.
Already, the contest has laid bare Mexico's divisions.
"This election is about those people who are desperate for change in Mexico... and are willing to try anything different, and those people who are genuinely worried about what change will bring," said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute Wilson Center in Washington.
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