With the selection of former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum as the ruling party’s candidate in next June’s elections, Mexico will for the first time have time to see two women from its main political movements running for president.
Sheinbaum, along with opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, insisted that Mexico was ready to be led by a woman, but it would not be an easy path.
On Wednesday evening, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party announced that Sheinbaum had defeated five internal party rivals, all of them men. López Obrador placed women in important positions in his cabinet and was a mentor to Sheinbaum, although he was sometimes accused of male chauvinism.
Mexico still experiences intense “machismo” or male chauvinism, which is expressed in its most extreme form through a high rate of feminicides, but also daily in hundreds of more subtle ways.
Mexico has a strong “macho vote”, said Gloria Alcocer Olmos, director of the electoral magazine “Voice and Vote”, adding that it is not exclusive to male voters.
Alcocer Olmos pointed out that in June’s election for governor of Mexico State – the most populous jurisdiction in the country – the race was between two candidates “and turnout was the lowest in the story “. The same thing happened in the national elections in Aguascalientes in 2021, she said.
“What does this tell us?” she asked. “That people vote for women? The reality is no, and the saddest thing is that women themselves do not vote for women.
Such a low turnout in the June 2 presidential election is less likely because so much is at stake, Alcocer Olmos said. It’s also possible that the Citizen Movement party, which controls Nuevo Leon and Jalisco — two of the most economically important states — could nominate a male candidate who would attract that macho vote, she said.
Another question mark concerns what former Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard will do. As Sheinbaum’s closest rival in Morena, he did not accept the results of the party’s internal selection process, saying there were irregularities.
Morena controls 22 of Mexico’s 32 states and López Obrador remains hugely popular, giving Sheinbaum a clear advantage. But Gálvez emerged from near obscurity, helped largely by daily public criticism from López Obrador, to become the consensus candidate for a largely directionless opposition.
Aurora Pedroche, a Morena activist who supports Sheinbaum, suggested another problem if one of the candidates wins the presidency. Given the vastly increased power and responsibility that López Obrador has given to the military under his administration, “how are they going to accept a woman as commander-in-chief?
“It scares me,” Pedroche said.
While Mexican women have risen to positions of political power in public life – in part thanks to representation quotas required for public office – women suffer from high levels of gender-based violence. Femicide – cases of women being killed because of their gender – has been an ongoing problem for decades.
Sheinbaum represents the continuation of López Obrador’s social agenda, but without his charisma to face an opponent of Gálvez who has an ease of connecting with people more reminiscent of the incumbent president.
The independent Gálvez represents the Broad Front for Mexico, a coalition of the conservative National Action Party, the small progressive Party of the Democratic Revolution and the old guard of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which held the presidency of Mexico continuously between 1929 and 2000.
Gálvez is caucusing with the National Action Party in the Senate but is not a member.
Strategist Antonio Sola, who worked on former President Felipe Calderón’s 2006 campaign and later for one of the parties that helped López Obrador win, thinks Gálvez’s foreign image could help.
As much of the world sees the end of a political era dominated by traditional candidates, emerging figures are those who are “kicking the system”, he said.
USA News Gb1