Mexico Ruling Party Gets Boost

Efforts by opposition parties to create an alliance to field a joint candidate in next year's presidential race have collapsed, a party official said, making it more likely that Mexico's ruling party will retain its 70-year grip on the presidency.

A council of prominent citizens met with political leaders Tuesday but apparently failed to revive proposals for a coalition of Mexican opposition parties in the July 2000 presidential race.

Â"The proposal they formulated is, by all accounts, unacceptable,Â" said Diego Fernandez de Cevallos of the right-center National Action Party, one of two main opposition parties. Â"That's that.Â"

He indicated his party would not attempt any further negotiations on the matter with the other main opposition party, the left-center Democratic Revolution Party.

Negotiations apparently stalled over a dispute on whether to pick the candidate through a nationwide primary or an opinion poll.

National Action wants the candidate to be selected by opinion polls. Its candidate, Vicente Fox, currently holds a commanding lead over the Democratic Revolution's Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who resigned as Mexico City's mayor Tuesday to run his presidential campaign.

Hopes that an opposition coalition could defeat the Institutional Revolutionary Party -- which has held the presidency here without interruption since 1929 -- took another blow over the weekend, when an opposition alliance candidate lost governorship elections to the ruling party in the northern state of Coahuila.

The Democratic Revolution pledged to forge ahead with plans to form an alliance with other, much smaller center-left parties.

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