México to Elect Its First Woman President

On June 2, Mexico will vote for its next president. In this image, a Mexican citizen casting his vote during the 2012 election. Photo courtesy of The Commons
On June 2, Mexico will vote for its next president. In this image, a Mexican citizen casting his vote during the 2012 election. Photo courtesy of The Commons

Officially, three candidates will appear on the June 2 ballot when Mexicans elect their next president. However, only two have a realistic chance of winning.

Claudia Sheinbaum, age 61, is from the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the party of the current president, and Xóchitl Gálvez, also age 61, represents a conservative coalition made up of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the National Action Party and the Democratic Revolution Party (PRI-PAN-PRD).

Before the first debate in mid-April, polling showed Sheinbaum, the leftist candidate, leading by a wide margin, as has been the trend since she announced her candidacy. Even polls published by conservative media outlets that have been systemic critics of the current administration showed similar results.

Gálvez and her campaign initially questioned some of those polls, arguing lack of credibility. However, even her own polling via social media showed her losing.

Beyond her proposals for the electorate, Gálvez carries a heavy burden: Behind her there are three political parties with a damaged reputation. Moreover, she has made a series of mistakes and contradictory statements during her campaign.

For her part, Sheinbaum has political credit from the high approval rating of current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration. She has been well-advised by her campaign team and has concentrated on minimizing mistakes, focusing on her proposals instead of responding to the constant attacks by her opponent. It is like a boxing match that she knows she has already won and is only making sure she does not get knocked out.

Xóchitl Gálvez

Former senator and businessperson Gálvez studied computer engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She served as the general director of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples during the Vicente Fox administration in 2000. She was also a PAN candidate in the Mexico City elections in 2015. She won and served as the Miguel Hidalgo municipality mayor from 2015 to 2018.

She graduated from UNAM with a report based on her professional career instead of a thesis. She claims to have specialized in robotics, artificial intelligence, smart buildings, sustainability and energy saving.

However, her academic record is stained by accusations of plagiarism. The magazine Etcétera exposed complete paragraphs copied from other authors without corresponding citations and references, as well as methodological deficiencies.

Gálvez admitted having “engaged” in some irregularities and made her work available to the university so that it could determine whether there was plagiarism. UNAM only asked for clarification of the misquoted references and dismissed the alleged academic plagiarism.

Since Gálvez’s official campaign announcement, she has been trying to catch up with Sheinbaum. Thereafter, a series of statements and contradictions have affected her campaign negatively. For instance, she initially stated that the social programs to help older adults and student scholarships established in López Obrador’s administration should be temporary, not permanent.

These programs, as well as an increase in the minimum wage, have been key to decreasing extreme poverty in the country, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

Gálvez later declared that she did not say what she said. She also promised that she would maintain the social programs for older adults and the college scholarships established by López Obrador “because thanks to a scholarship I was able to get my college degree,” she said.

Since then, both she and the right-wing parties behind her have waved the flag of said social programs while campaigning, although historically they have opposed, voted against and spoken out publicly opposing them.

Although the former senator has said that she does not belong to any political party as she was elected to the Senate by proportional representation, she was part of the legislature as a member of the National Action Party.

Both the PAN and the PRI, and now the PRD, as well as their leaders, have a record of corruption scandals. The vast majority of voters do not want to know anything about the PRI, a party that governed Mexico continuously for more than 70 years and that after two six-year terms of PAN governments with Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón (2000–2012) returned with Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012, before López Obrador’s win in 2018.

The PRI and PAN administrations left a fed-up feeling among Mexicans, who do not seem to want to return to those times. The PRI-PAN-PRD coalition represents the elites and the neoliberalism that started during the early 1980s under Miguel de la Madrid and gained notoriety with Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1988. They left behind a history of corruption, looting of the country, privatization, financial fraud and impunity, under the protection of successive PRI and PAN governments.

In 2006, Calderón’s failed version of the war on drugs only stirred up the hornet’s nest.

Gálvez’s main strategy has been attacking the current approach of the administration confronting social violence, insisting that she would return to Calderón’s policies, which experts say is the main cause of the country’s current violence.

Gálvez also has accusations of conflict of interest for granting permits as mayor to construction companies, which later awarded contracts to her private companies.

Claudia Sheinbaum

Morena’s candidate can boast an academic curriculum superior to that of Gálvez. Sheinbaum has a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in energy engineering and a doctorate in environmental engineering, also from UNAM.

She has had an outstanding political career, in which she served in such positions as delegation chief of the Tlalpan borough, secretary of the environment of Mexico City in 2000 and the same position at the national level as a member of the president’s cabinet in 2012. She later ran and won the position of head of government of Mexico City.

Since her time as a student, Sheinbaum has been involved in social movements, and while at the College of Sciences and Humanities, she became involved in mobilizations for the rights of students who were rejected in their attempts to enter UNAM.

She has been a leftist activist since her youth, having been involved in founding the youth arm of the PRD, when the party was representative of the Mexican left.

Much of her professional life, in addition to activism and politics, has been in science and academia, with publications on energy, environment and sustainable development.

Although Sheinbaum has had her own successful political career, it is undeniable that the popularity of the current president has given her a push that seems to definitively indicate that she will become the first female president of Mexico.

She has not hesitated to declare that she will continue the so-called Cuarta Transformación, although with her own ideas. The idea of “the poor first,” social programs, free scientific and quality higher education, an increase in the minimum wage and a transition to renewable energies are some of her proposals. Renewable energy has also been part of Gálvez’s platform.

Sheinbaum’s critics hold her responsible for the collapse of Line 12 of the Mexico City Metro when she was head of government, which caused deaths due to poor maintenance.

Likewise, one of her great challenges is social violence—mostly associated with drug dealing—and she has proposed a strategy to address that.

First Female President

Although with opposite visions, the two candidates most likely to become the next president are women. In the case of Sheinbaum, she seeks to give continuity to the Cuarta Transformación project. On the other hand, Gálvez has declared herself a Trotskyist and indigenist but represents parties with opposite ideals—right wing, conservatism and neoliberalism—which Mexican voters decided to remove from power six years ago.

Most, if not all, of the polling indicates that the electorate will choose the progressive Sheinbaum as the next president of Mexico on June 2.


  • Miguel Ángel Báez

    Miguel Ángel Báez is a Mexican-born journalist from the Central Valley. He graduated from CSU Bakersfield and was editor of Noticiero Semanal, a weekly newspaper in Porterville.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x