The veteran consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader has formally declared an independent run for the United States presidency, further complicating a contest that has become one of the most hard-fought – and hard to predict – in modern political history.

The decision by Mr Nader, 73, once more to throw his hat into the ring is unlikely to endear him to Democrats, many of whom still blame him for acting as a spoiler in 2000, siphoning votes away from Al Gore and in effect delivering the White House to George Bush. Mr Nader has rejected that charge, saying the victory of Mr Bush was the fault of the Democrats themselves.

He ran in that year as the candidate for the Green Party, and captured 2.7 per cent of the vote on election day. As an independent four years ago, he drew only a fraction of that support.

Yesterday he said he felt compelled to run once more because both Republicans and Democrats had failed to tackle the corporate domination of business in Washington or pay attention to the needs of ordinary Americans. He remained determined, he said, to “shift the power from the few to the many”.

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