MEXICO CITY — Four days before Mexico's presidential election, much of the nation's attention is focused on a man who appears certain to lose.
That man is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the fiery, feisty leftist who shut down the heart of Mexico City after the last election with mass protests against a narrow loss that he blamed on electoral fraud.
Final polls released Wednesday showed Lopez Obrador in second place, with the candidate of Mexico's former ruling party, Enrique Pena Nieto, anywhere from 8 to 17 percentage points in the lead.
As a result, few expect anything other than a Pena Nieto victory that will return the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to the presidency after 12 years out of the nation's highest office.
What remains in doubt for millions of Mexicans is, will Lopez Obrador quietly accept defeat? Or will he call his followers back to the streets for a repeat of the 2006 allegations of fraud, and protests that shut down the heart of the capital for weeks and shook the faith of many, at home and abroad, in the stability of Mexico's young democracy?
In that last run, Lopez Obrador led until the final days and his backers could not believe the official result showing him less than 1 percentage point short of victor Felipe Calderon, though electoral courts upheld it. Lopez Obrador declared himself the "legitimate president of Mexico," named a Cabinet and toured the country to rally backers.
As his final campaign act this year, Lopez Obrador led thousands of people on a march Wednesday afternoon that many see as an uncomfortable echo of the last electoral battle.
Supporters waving the yellow flags of his party and wearing Lopez Obrador T-shirts shouted, "President! President! You are the President!" as they lined four lanes of Mexico City's central Reforma boulevard and headed to the Zocalo, the centuries-old square in the center of downtown that has served as the base for many of his protests.