In Mexico, a country of masculinity, a woman will be the next president
(CNN) — The ruling party described it as a ceremony of passing the baton. But the opposition called it “passing the puck.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who constitutionally cannot run for re-election, wanted to show last month, in a very public way, that presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum has his blessing. So he presented his would-be successor with the royal baton, at a ceremony outside a restaurant in Mexico City, not far from the National Palace, the seat of the country’s executive power.
Sheinbaum, the 61-year-old former mayor of Mexico City and a longtime political ally of López Obrador, thanked him for everything. Accepting the baton alongside the presidential nomination of the leftist Morena Party, Sheinbaum said he would bear “full responsibility for continuing the path set by our people, the transformation started by President Andres Manuel López Obrador.”
When Mexicans go to the polls next June, they will choose between two women for president, something unprecedented in the country’s history. Just four days before Morena nominated Sheinbaum, the Mexican opposition coalition Frente Amplio chose another formidable candidate, former senator Xochitl Galvez, of the conservative PAN party.
This is not the first time Mexico has seen women aspiring to the presidency; Before Sheinbaum and Galvez, there were six other presidential candidates. But with both major political parties nominating women, this is the first time it has been practically taken for granted that from December 2024, Mexico, a country previously known for its masculinity, will be governed by a woman.
However, some critics say the shadow of outgoing López Obrador looms over the race.
Sheinbaum and Galvez are candidates for the presidency of Mexico
Gálvez’s rise in Mexican politics was rapid. She said this spring that she was not even the preferred candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the National Action Party, and the Party of the Democratic Revolution, the parties that now make up the Broad Front coalition. He was Public dispute With López Obrador himself – who would regularly attack her as a “puppet”, “puppet” and “employee of the oligarch” at press conferences – eventually catapulting her to fame.
In June, Gálvez went viral when he tried to enter the National Palace with a court order giving him the right to respond to the president, after he successfully filed a lawsuit against López Obrador. “This is not a show,” he told reporters at the gates of the National Palace. “The law is the law and that’s it.”
The daughter of an indigenous father and a mestizo mother, Gálvez was the top indigenous affairs official under former President Vicente Fox before becoming a senator. In an interview with CNN en Español, she described herself as “an all-terrain woman, a 4×4 type.”
In some ways, it seems progressive. Galvez has advocated in Mexico’s Congress for the rights and well-being of indigenous and Afro-Mexican groups, and at a regional forum held earlier this year in Monterrey, he said oil-rich Mexico should shift to renewable energy. “We didn’t do it because we were stupid,” Galvez said without apology.
He also said leftist López Obrador’s pension for all seniors should continue, and proposes what he calls a “universal social protection system” of social welfare programs for a large portion of the middle and lower classes.
But when it comes to security and fighting organized crime, Galvez’s plan relies on what she calls “smarts, heart and a strong hand”: strengthening local and state police and giving them access to the security services. Protect victims and respect the rule of law.
Macario Schettino, a political analyst and professor of social sciences at ITESM, a famous Mexican university, describes Galvez’s political drive as impressive, considering that just a few months ago she was not even considered a candidate of national character. “It’s barely starting to register politically and it’s already grown a lot. A lot of people in Mexico still don’t know it. It’s going to grow.” […] “In her popularity, while Claudia Sheinbaum can no longer move on because she is already known to the majority of Mexicans,” Schettino said.
Meanwhile, Sheinbaum, a physicist with a doctorate in environmental engineering, would also be the first female president of Jewish descent if she wins, though she rarely speaks publicly about her personal background and has ruled as a secular leftist.
She is currently leading in most polls, and would be a formidable competitor to beat. Not only does Sheinbaum have the full support of the ruling party, but she also has long enjoyed the spotlight as mayor of Mexico’s most important city for the past five years, until her resignation in June to run for president.
In politics, Sheinbaum pledged to continue many of López Obrador’s policies and programs, including pensions for all seniors, scholarships for more than 12 million students, and free fertilizer for small farmers. But the high-profile former mayor rejects criticism about her close political alignment with the president. “Of course we are not a copy (of the president),” he said in July.
However, he is not shy about declaring the principles they share: “For the good of all, let us put the poor first. There can be no rich government if the people are poor. Power is only a virtue when it is used for its own sake,” said Sheinbaum. : “Serve the people,” repeating the same campaign slogans that López Obrador has used for years.
Lopez Obrador promises “total retirement”
Schettino believes that the popular López Obrador sees Sheinbaum as an extension of himself in power. He points to the roots of his Morena party in the authoritarian Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled Mexico for more than seven decades until 2000, and which became known as the “Dinosaurs,” and the Party of the Democratic Revolution that branched out from it.
In 2012, López Obrador created Morena as a political party. Schettino describes the party today as a “dinosaur” under the influence of López Obrador, representing what he says is the current leader’s desire for a successor to adhere more closely to his own agenda. “President López Obrador, a dinosaur who is not only a dinosaur but also has the quality of a tyrant, does not want to leave. He wants to stay in power,” Schettino said.
“I think he built Claudia’s candidacy,” Schettino said.
However, Lopez Obrador has repeatedly rejected accusations that he has authoritarian tendencies or that he prefers a candidate who can control him. Earlier this year, López Obrador denied that he had favorites among his party’s candidates or that he was pushing one candidate or another behind the scenes.
He also said he would “completely retire” when his six-year term expires.
“I will retire, and of course I will not participate in any public event again. I will not accept any position, nor do I want to be anyone’s advisor, let alone serve as president.” “I will not have relations with politicians,” the president told the press in February. “I will not talk about politics.”