DIEGO Fernandez de Cevallos, 53, of the National Action Party (Pan), came from a strongly Catholic family of 15 children. Although Mexico is largely Catholic, his devout background worries many Mexican liberals, including women, on such issues as abortion. Considered the epitomy of the 'pure white' - that is, of pure Spanish origin Mexican - he wore his greying beard Khomeini-like to his chest until campaign advisers suggested he trim it to its present look. Mexicans see little difference between him and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), on most issues. Many fear he has worked out a deal with the PRI for a two-party coalition should neither win clearly.
Mr Fernandez de Cevallos edged ahead of Ernesto Zedillo, the presidential candidate of the PRI, in the polls after a live television debate which was held in May. But afterwards he virtually stopped campaigning. That added to the 'deal with the PRI' theory. And at his closing rally in Mexico City on Saturday night, Mr Fernandez de Cevallos drew a crowd of only around 30,000. It was raining heavily but many Mexicans felt that his speech and demeanour were those of a man who was either not expecting to win, or was afraid of doing so. His campaign slogan is: 'For a Mexico without lies'.