MEXICO CITY, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Mexican independent presidential candidate and former first lady Margarita Zavala announced Wednesday she was dropping out of the hotly contested race.
Zavala, wife of ex-president Felipe Calderon (2006-2012), made the announcement in an interview with a television news program that was taped earlier in the day to be aired in the evening.
"I have decided ... to withdraw my candidacy in the race due to a principle of congruence, political honesty and to release those who have generously supported me so they can decide" on another candidate "in this difficult contest," Zavala said.
Hours earlier, Zavala had taken part in a meeting with business sector representatives to discuss corruption, regional development and other pertinent topics.
Zavala, one of five candidates vying for the nation's top job, had been consistently trailing in last place, according to polls.
With the July 1 elections less than a month and a half away, the latest survey by polling firm Mitofsky confirms that long-time leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador leads the race with 32.6 percent of voter support.
In second place is conservative candidate Ricardo Anaya, with 20.5 percent, followed by the candidate of the ruling center-right party Jose Antonio Meade, with 14.5 percent, and independent candidate and former Nuevo Leon state governor Jaime "El Bronco" Rodriguez, with 2.9 percent.
Zavala registered 2.7 percent, so her decision to withdraw has little effect on the outcome of the presidential race.
Observers suggested that Anaya and Meade may ultimately decide to form an alliance to defeat Lopez Obrador, but until now neither has been willing to cede to the other.
The survey queried a thousand people across the country between May 11 and 13, and has a three-point margin of error.
The election will decide Mexico's president for the 2018-2024 term, as well as 628 members of congress and 30 local and state authorities.