Mexico presidential voting today: Will Mexicans defy ‘macho culture’ to opt for ‘woman’ in power?

Mexico prepares for its largest election with a potential first female president.

Mausam Jha
First Published2 Jun 2024, 11:23 AM IST
Presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum arrives at her closing campaign rally at the Zocalo in Mexico City. (AP/PTI)
Presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum arrives at her closing campaign rally at the Zocalo in Mexico City. (AP/PTI)(AP)

In a historic election set for Sunday, Mexicans will cast their votes amidst significant considerations of gender representation, democratic principles, and the influence of populism.

However, the democratic process is overshadowed by the looming threat of cartel violence, underscoring the challenges facing the nation as it charts its path forward, AP reported.

According to the National Electoral Institute, “With two women leading the contest, Mexico will likely elect its first female president – a major step in a country long marked by its “macho” culture.” 

Also Read: Mexico is about to elect its first female president. Her job: save the nation

It further noted that the election will also be the biggest in the country's history. More than 20,000 congressional and local positions are up for grabs.

The AP report noted the escalation of violence during local election campaigns in Mexico. Criminal groups have exploited these elections to assert dominance, resulting in a surge of bloodshed.

Amid escalating violence, over 20 political candidates have tragically lost their lives this year. The political backdrop, including President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's legacy and Mexico's intricate ties with the United States, only deepens the complexity of the situation.

Mexico's elections: How does voting work?

Parties finalized their candidates well before the official start of campaigning for the presidential, congressional, and municipal elections. On June 2, millions of voters will head to the polls to select their new leaders in a single round of voting. The winner of the highly anticipated presidential election will serve a six-year term.

While much attention is focused on the presidential race, Mexicans will vote for 128 senators, 500 congressional representatives, and nearly 20,000 local government positions.

Who are the candidates in Mexico's presidential elections?

Claudia Sheinbaum

The former mayor of Mexico City has held a significant lead in polls for months. Backed by President López Obrador's ruling Morena party, she pledges to continue his populist agenda.

Trained as a scientist, Sheinbaum faces the challenge of asserting her identity while emphasizing her ties to López Obrador. However, despite lacking his charisma, she aims to navigate this delicate balance to secure victory.

Candidate Xóchitl Gálvez

Gálvez, an opposition senator and tech entrepreneur, leads a coalition of parties traditionally lacking common ground, except for their recent opposition to López Obrador.

As a fierce critic of the outgoing president, Gálvez is known for engaging in verbal sparring but has struggled to generate significant enthusiasm for her Strength and Heart for Mexico coalition.

Jorge Álvarez Máynez

The third candidate, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, a former federal congressman from the Citizen Movement party, remains relatively unknown. Despite appealing to younger voters, Álvarez Máynez has struggled to gain significant traction in the election.

Mexico's first woman president

Electing a female president would represent a significant milestone in a country grappling with alarming levels of gender-based violence and profound gender inequalities.

Mexico continues to grapple with entrenched “machismo,” a culture of male dominance that perpetuates significant economic and social disparities within society. This deeply ingrained misogyny manifests in various forms, including tragically high rates of femicides and horrific incidents such as acid attacks targeting women.

In a historic development, an increasing number of women in socially conservative Mexico are stepping into leadership and political roles.

Also Read: A woman could be Mexico’s next leader. Millions of others continue in shadows as domestic workers.

This progress can be attributed partly to a sustained effort by authorities over decades to promote greater political representation. This includes legislation mandating that half of congressional candidates from political parties be women. Since 2018, Mexico's Congress has maintained a 50-50 gender split, with a notable rise in female governors.

Both leading candidates, Sheinbaum and Gálvez, have pledged to tackle the alarming rates of gender-based violence and address gender disparities if elected.

Why campaign is observing ‘violence’?

Mexican President López Obrador's "hugs not bullets" policy, aimed at addressing the underlying societal factors contributing to violence, has faced criticism as cartels and criminal groups have expanded their influence. Despite promises to reduce violence, homicide rates have remained high.

López Obrador's reluctance to confront criminal organizations has allowed them to thrive, and activists accuse his government of downplaying the extent of Mexico's forcibly disappeared population ahead of the election.

Also Read: Mexico's drug cartels and gangs appear to be playing a wider role in Sunday's elections than before

As reported by AP, criminal groups view elections, especially local ones, as an opportunity to seize power, resulting in turf wars and violence. According to tracking by the human rights organization Data Civica, at least 145 individuals with political ties have been murdered by organized crime this year alone.

Violence has been particularly severe in states where criminal groups are fighting for territory, like Chiapas and Guerrero in the south and Michoacan in central Mexico.

(With inputs from AP)

 

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First Published:2 Jun 2024, 11:23 AM IST
HomeNewsworldMexico presidential voting today: Will Mexicans defy ‘macho culture’ to opt for ‘woman’ in power?

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