In Mexico's 'Macho' Culture, This Election Is Very Different

Leading polls are 2 women: Claudia Sheinbaum, with 59%, and Xochitl Galvez, with 36%
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 1, 2024 10:44 AM CST
Facing Off in Mexico's Looming Presidential Race: 2 Women
This combination of two file photos shows Xochitl Galvez, left, arriving to register her name as a presidential candidate on July 4 in Mexico City, and fellow candidate Claudia Sheinbaum at an event on Sept. 6 in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, Files)

Campaigning formally starts on Friday for the biggest election in Mexico's history. Voters will choose the president, along with the winners of 628 seats in Congress and tens of thousands of local positions, per the AP. The country of 130 million people has often been marked by its "macho" culture. Now, it's almost certain to elect its first woman president. Also at play are issues such as escalating cartel warfare, the political legacy of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and the long, often tumultuous relationship with the United States.

  • The basics: Parties selected their candidates well before the official start of campaigning. On June 2, millions of voters will turn out at the polls to vote for their new leaders. The winner of the highly anticipated presidential elections will serve a six-year term.

  • The frontrunner: Leading presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum has a comfortable lead, with around 59% of the vote, per a February poll. The former mayor of Mexico City, Sheinbaum is seen as a continuation of populist leftist leader Lopez Obrador and is backed by his Morena party.
  • Other contenders: Sen. Xochitl Galvez is in a not-so-close second place, with around 36% of the vote. Galvez is a fierce critic of Lopez Obrador and is running under the Strength and Heart for Mexico coalition. Trailing behind both is little-known Jorge Alvarez Maynez of the Citizens Movement party.
  • Risks: In swaths of the country eclipsed by cartel violence, many have raised concerns about a security crisis that has spiraled under Lopez Obrador. In the first two months of the year, a handful of candidates were slain before the election season officially began. Watchdogs warn that this year's elections could be Mexico's most violent on record.
  • Prospect of a female president: That would be a huge step in a country with soaring levels of gender-based violence and deep gender disparities. Mexico still has a famously intense "machismo," or male chauvinism, culture, expressed in its most extreme form in a high rate of femicides, but also daily in hundreds of more subtle ways. More here.
(More Mexico stories.)

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