Two Colorful Candidates Enter Mexico’s Presidential Race

The two front-runners in Mexico's presidential election are both women.

Xochitl Galvez (l) and Claudi Sheinbaum (r)
Xochitl Galvez (l) and Claudi Sheinbaum (r)

Macho men in Mexico must get used to girl-power because the next president, elected in June 2024 will be a “she.” The only two candidates, designated by their party, are women.

Claudia Sheinbaum, 61, on one side, was chosen by the ruling left wing Morena party. On the other side, Senator Xochitl Galvez, 60, is representing the center right coalition’s National Action Party. Both are scientists, engineers, socially progressive and promise to maintain popular antipoverty programs. They are each the embodiment of a rapidly changing political landscape.

Since the dawn of the millennium, parties by law must present at least 50% female candidates. Consequently, women today lead the upper and lower houses of Congress. Sheinbaum, who is close to Manuel Lopez Obrador, the current president, will benefit from his popularity. His approval rating remains high, above 60%. Sheinbaum has been, like him, mayor of Mexico City (2018 to 2023). A former student of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, she is his top environmental advisor. She is said to be loyal to Amlo but more sensitive to climate change. If elected, she would be the first Jewish president of Mexico. Her father hails from Lithuania, and her mother from Bulgaria.

Galvez, her opponent, emphasizes her indigenous origin, wearing colorful indigenous clothing while riding an electric bike around Mexico City. Her father was Otomi, her mother Mestiza and she was raised in a home without running water. Nevertheless, this conservative senator won a scholarship to the National Autonomous University of Mexico where she studied computer science. She later designed communication and energy networks for office buildings. Galvez is known for brandishing her femininity  on her sleeve. She claims “ovaries are needed” to confront organized crime. That is her answer to one of the major themes of the presidential campaign.