Enrique Pena Nieto, former governor of Mexico State and the leading presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, attends the presentation event of his book, "Mexico, la gran esperanza," or "Mexico, the great hope," in Mexico City, Wednesday Nov. 23, 2011. Pena Nieto, who has led in all the recent national polls, seeks to regain the presidency his party lost in 2000 after 71 years in power. The presidential elections will take place in July 2012. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)AP2011
The party that controlled Mexico for the majority of the 20th century officially nominated on Saturday the candidate it hopes can take back the presidency after 12 years out of power.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) gave Enrique Peña Nieto a document declaring him the party's candidate Saturday. All other hopefuls had already dropped out. Legal candidate registration takes place in February and the campaign starts in March.
The former Mexico State governor has a strong lead in most polls. His party ran Mexico from 1929 to 2000, when it lost to the National Action Party that still governs.
National Action is still choosing its candidate but the third major force has picked its contender. Andrés Manuel López Obrador will run for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party.
The PRI ruled Mexico under a succssion of names for over 70 years, before Vicente Fox won the 2000 election as part of a joint ticket representing the Alliance For Change party.
Current Mexican President Felipe Calderón won in 2006 in a contested election.
Growing disenchantment in Calderón's policies and the widespread violence related to the country's drug war has allowed the PRI to make a resurgence in the country's political scene. Local elections in 2011 saw the party gain back a number of political spots.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.