Mexico is preparing to elect its first female president, with the two main parties having nominated candidates for the presidential election on June 2, 2024.
The country’s ruling party has nominated the former mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, as its candidate for the presidential election next June, where she will face Xóchitl Gálvez, a senator from the Mexican Republic nominated by an opposition coalition.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party nominated Sheinbaum on Wednesday night after beating five other candidates from the same party – all men.
Both Sheinbaum and Gálvez have insisted Mexico is ready to be led by a woman, but a potential win won’t be easy, some pundits say, as Mexican culture remains male-centric. Mexico has never had a female president, although there have been several female candidates in the past.
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Sheinbaum has a considerable advantage in the next general election, since Morena controls 22 of Mexico’s 32 states and López Obrador remains very popular. She was coordinator of the political party Morena and was useful to López Obrador.
Gálvez, once a street food vendor who rose from near obscurity to become a tech entrepreneur and senator, was chosen as the consensus candidate of political parties opposed to López Obrador. She is independent but caucus with the Conservative National Action Party in the Senate.
Gálvez represents the Broad Front for Mexico, a coalition that includes the National Action Party, the small Progressive Party of the Democratic Revolution and the old guard of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which held the presidency of Mexico continuously between 1929 and 2000. .
Several potential hurdles could stand in the way of a potential victory for either Sheinbaum or Gálvez, including joining one of Sheinbaum’s rivals in the race or adding a third-party candidate.
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Former Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, a Morena member and one of Sheinbaum’s closest rivals, did not accept the results of Wednesday’s internal party selection process, citing irregularities.
He could launch a campaign for the presidency, potentially capturing the male vote and antagonizing party-chosen candidates.
Gloria Alcocer Olmos, director of the electoral magazine “Voice and Vote”, suggested that the Citizen Movement party, which controls Nuevo León and Jalisco – two of the most economically important states – could also propose a third candidate to try to capture the interests of male voters. She said recent elections have shown that voters are not particularly keen on the idea of supporting a female candidate.
Alcocer Olmos pointed to a June election that saw a race between two female candidates in the country’s most populous jurisdiction. “The turnout was the lowest in history,” she said.
The same thing happened in the national elections in Aguascalientes in 2021, she explained.
“What does that tell us?” asked Alcocer Olmos. “That people vote for women? The reality is that they don’t, and the sad thing is that women themselves don’t vote for women.”
Aurora Pedroche, a Morena activist who supports Sheinbaum, suggested another problem could arise with the Mexican military if one of the candidates wins the presidency.
“How are they going to accept a woman as commander-in-chief?” asked Pedroche. “That scares me.”
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While Mexican women have risen to positions of political power in public life – partly thanks to required representation quotas – women continue to suffer from gender-based violence, including feminicide – cases of women killed as a result of their sex.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.