The first debate among the four candidates seeking the presidency in Mexico’s July 1 general elections will be held on May 6, organizers said Tuesday.
Taking part in the event will be Enrique Peña Nieto of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the governing rightist National Action Party, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist PRD and Gabriel Quadri, candidate of the small New Alliance Party.
The date was selected by the Debate Commission, comprising election officials and representatives of the parties and candidates.
The May 6 exchange will take place in Mexico City, possibly at the headquarters of the Federal Electoral Institute.
The National Action representative on the commission, Rogelio Carvajal, pointed out that discussions continue on the format for the first debate and the choice of a moderator.
“We want to break the pattern of the debates of the past, a stilted pattern, a pattern of little dynamism, and turn that page and make the debate a much more attractive event,” said Andres Massieu on behalf of Peña Nieto, the current front-runner in the race.
Though the exact date and place remains undecided, the second debate will be sometime in early June in a major city outside the capital, Massieu said.
The campaign, which officially began last Friday, will wrap up June 27, four days before Mexicans go to the polls to choose a successor to President Felipe Calderon and elect 628 federal lawmakers.
The latest polls show Peña Nieto leading Vazquez Mota by 45 percent to 32 percent, while Lopez Obrador - who narrowly lost to Calderon in 2006 - has support from 22 percent of potential voters.
Backing for Quadri stands at less than 1 percent.
Mexican presidents are limited to a single six-year term.