MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s ruling party on Wednesday chose Claudia Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City, as its candidate in next year’s presidential election, creating a defining moment in the world’s largest Spanish-speaking country, where Voters are expected to choose for the first time between two leading female candidates.
“Today democracy has won. Today the people of Mexico decided,” Sheinbaum said during the announcement, adding that his party,Brunette, would win the 2024 elections. “Tomorrow the electoral process begins,” he said.
“And there’s not a minute to waste.”
Sheinbaum, 61, a physicist with a doctorate in environmental engineering and a protege of Mexico’s current president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obradorwill face the main opposition candidate, Xochitl Galvez60, an outspoken engineer with indigenous roots who rose from poverty to become a technology entrepreneur.
“Today we can say: Mexico, at the end of next year, will be governed by a woman,” said Jesus Silva-Herzog Marquez, a political scientist at the Technological Institute of Monterreyadding that it was an “extraordinary change” for the country.
Sheinbaum has built her political career mainly in the shadow of Lopez Obrador, and from the beginning she emerged as the party’s favorite to succeed the current president.
It is believed that this connection will give a crucial advantage ahead of next year’s elections, thanks to the high proval ratings enjoyed by Lopez Obrador, who is limited by the Mexican Constitution to a six-year term.
In recent months, Lopez Obrador has insisted that he will not exert any influence when his term ends.
“I’m completely retiring,” he said in March.
“I am not a chief and much less do I feel irreplaceable. I am not a strong man; I am not a messiah.”
But some analysts say his influence will endure regardless of which candidate wins in 2024.
Should Sheinbaum win, “there may be changes to certain policies, although the broad outlines of his program will remain intact,” according to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research institute.
If Sheinbaum is defeated, Lopez Obrador “will not fade quietly into the background,” the report says, citing a large base of loyal supporters that allows him to have substantial influence.
Some legacies of his administration – such as austerity measures or the immersion of the military in social functions, security and infrastructure– could also be obstacles for Galvez if he tries to roll back his policies.
Although the two candidates focus on the weaknesses of their respective campaigns, they share some similarities.
None is explicitly feministboth are socially progressive, have engineering degrees, and say they will maintain widely popular anti-poverty programs.
Both are in favor of decriminalizing abortion.
In the case of Galvez, this position contrasts with that of his conservative party.
On Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion nationwide, building on an earlier ruling that gave authorities the authority to allow the procedure in each state.
Sheinbaum, born to Jewish parents in Mexico Citywould become the first Jewish president of Mexico if she wins the elections.
He has faced a disinformation campaign on social media falsely claiming that he was born in Bulgaria, the country from which his mother emigrated; Sheinbaum’s supporters have called this anti-semitic campaign.
He studied physics and energy engineering in Mexico before completing his PhD at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
After entering politics, she became the head of environment of Lopez Obrador when he was mayor of Mexico City.
When Sheinbaum was elected mayor of the cital in 2018, she made public transportation and environmental issues top priorities, but she also came under fire for deadly mishs in the city’s transportation systems, such as the collse of a subway overpass. in which 26 people died.
With polls placing Sheinbaum as the favorite, her ties to Lopez Obrador required discipline to maintain his support even when she disagreed with his decisions.
For example, when Lopez Obrador downplayed the coronavirus pandemic and federal government officials changed data to avoid a lockdown in Mexico City, She was silent.
“What has stood out is his loyalty, I think a blind loyalty to the president,” said Silva-Herzog Marquez, a political scientist.
However, while adhering to Lopez Obrador’s policies, Sheinbaum has also signaled some potential changes, particularly expressing support for sources of renewable energy.
In contrast to her rival, Galvez, a senator who usually travels around Mexico City on electric bicyclehas focused on her origins as the daughter of an indigenous Otomi father and mother mestizo
Galvez grew up in a small town about two hours from Mexico City without running water and speaking e.l hnähn his father’s.
After receiving a scholarship at the National Autonomous University of Mexicobecame an engineer and founded a company that designs communications and power networks for office buildings.
After what Vincent Fox After winning the presidency in 2000, she was named head of the presidential office for Indigenous Peoples.
In 2018, Galvez was elected senator representing the conservative National Action Party.
Lopez Obrador has repeatedly made her the focus of verbal attacks, which has had the effect of raising her profile throughout the country while highlighting the influence that the president and his party wield throughout Mexico.
Looming over the campaign is Lopez Obrador, a combative leader who has embraced austerity measures while doubling down on Mexico’s dependence on fossil fuels.
He promised to end a long political tradition in which Mexican presidents chose their successors with their “big finger”replacing the practice with nationwide voter surveys.
Historically, political parties in Mexico have mostly selected their candidates in an opaque manner and lacked much inclusion.
Manual selection was more common than “free and fair competition for a candidacy,” said Flavia Freidenberg, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The new selection process has changed that tradition, but concerns remain about the lack of clarity and other irregularitiess that have been denounced by some analysts and other presidential candidates.
Both the ruling party, Morena, and the broad opposition coalition, called Frente Amplio por Mexico, used public opinion polls “that have not been fully transparent,” Freidenberg added, “and are not necessarily considered democratic procedures.”
The new procedures also ignored federal campaign regulations, and those in charge of the process in both the ruling party and the opposition brought forward the selection a few months and cryptically called Sheinbaum and Galvez “coordinators” of each coalition instead of “candidates.” “
“These irregular activities have occurred under the gaze of public opinion, the political class and the electoral authorities,” said Freidenberg.
“This is not a minor topic”.
Next year’s general election, in which voters will elect not only a president but also members of Congress, could also determine whether Mexico can return to a dominant party system, similar to what the country experienced under the once hegemonic Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). , who held power uninterruptedly for 71 years until 2000.
Despite some setbacks, there are signs that this is already hpening.
In June, Morena’s candidate won the race for governor of the State of Mexico, the most populous state in the country, defeating the PRI candidate.
That victory raised the number of states under Morena’s control to 23 of 32 states, up from just seven at the start of the president’s term in 2018.
The question is “whether Morena reconfigures itself as a hegemonic party like the old PRI,” said Ana Laura Magaloni, a law professor who advised Sheinbaum’s campaign for mayor.
“And that depends on how much fight the opposition can put up.”
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