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Two women in the Mexican presidential race

In 2018, Mexico opted for a change of course and Andrés Manuel López Obrador won a resounding majority of votes. He had already tried in 2006 and 2012; however, the conditions of 2018 made it propitious for a shift to a left-wing government. The exhaustion of the political party structures and the generalized perception of corruption in the federal government made it easier for the presidential candidate’s discourse to permeate all social strata in Mexico.

Opposition political parties, such as the National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), saw their political capital diminished as their presence in the Chambers of Deputies and Senators, as well as in some twenty local congresses and governorships, was drastically reduced. The strength of López Obrador and his allied parties was enough to change the political map of the country.

From the beginning of this government, coexistence among political forces was not possible, and the dialogue among the executive and other expressions was negative because it increased the polarization discourse and generated the interest of entities external to the political parties to build a competitive option for the midterm elections of 2021. 

Thus, the PAN, the PRI, and the PRD, at the call of civil society organizations, promoted agreements in which the different ideologies could compete and, with the support of non-partisan citizenship, would be able to face the political forces in power, under a presidential leadership.

The results of this alliance between civil society and political parties detonated in recovering spaces, such as balancing the Chamber of Deputies and reaching some mayorships in Mexico City.

In an arithmetic analysis, according to data from the National Electoral Institute (INE), in 2018 the Morena Party and its allies, updated to the 2023 alliances, obtained in the election of deputies 48.35% of the votes and the opposition obtained 42.20%, while Citizen’s Movement (MC) was endorsed by 4.41% of the vote. For 2021, the coalition among Morena, Work’s Party (PT), and Mexican Ecologist Green Party (PVEM) together obtained 42.76% of support and the sum of PAN, PRI and PRD obtained 39.61%, and in the case of MC 7.01% of the votes.

Now, after the 2021 elections, the beginning of the presidential race has been brought forward. A divided opposition that has not achieved great triumphs, the ups and downs of some parties, and serious criticism from those in power generated the perception that there would be no competition. Pre-electoral polls indicated that the triumph of any candidacy promoted by Morena and its allies would guarantee the continuity of the project known as the Fourth Transformation. However, last June, Senator Xóchitl Gálvez went to the National Palace with a judge’s order to exercise her right to reply to some statements made by President López Obrador which, in her opinion, were false statements. However, a group of pro-government sympathizers prevented her access to the morning press conference, generating expectations and the positioning of Gálvez, which allowed her to attract attention regarding the presidential succession.

Thus, social organizations and civil society groups called on the PAN, PRI and PRD parties to initiate the primary election process and position themselves in the construction of a competitive candidacy for the elections of June 2, 2024. The internal process is opened in which, considering the unprecedented characteristics regarding the advanced times, the procedure to elect the person responsible for the construction of the Broad Front for Mexico (FAM) is decided. 

Through an Organizing Committee (OC) integrated by experts in electoral matters and representatives of each one of the parties, the citizenship and the militancy were summoned to head the work of the coordination of the FAM. Once the candidates were known, an open call was made to show the respective support for each of the options through a digital platform, which was intended to ensure that each candidate could count on at least 150,000 verified supporters, dispersed in the largest number of federal entities. Thus, a closer list of candidates could be determined and the four options that passed the endorsement stage could be submitted to both the citizen forums and a national survey and arrive at three finalists, the same people who on September 3 would be submitted to a consultation derived from the list that had previously shown their support. Simultaneously, the Committee would apply two surveys and weight their results to the number of endorsements on the first Sunday of September. 

This complex process, they assure, would shield the interference of external interests and influence the designation of the person in charge of the FAM. In the end, they were the PRI’s Beatriz Paredes Rangel, an experienced politician with a long trajectory, and Xóchitl Gálvez Ruíz, an indigenous origin woman who, under the PAN and PRD, has held the position of Mayor and Senator of the Republic and whose disruptive discourse has made it possible to grab the spotlight of public opinion.

Finally, the PRI, the party to which Senator Paredes belongs, decided to support Gálvez, a situation which resulted in the PRI candidate’s declination, establishing Xóchitl Gálvez as the de facto virtual candidate of the opposition.

For her turn, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo has stood out for her academic career and student leadership at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She was delegation chief in Tlalpan and from 2018 until a few weeks ago she led Mexico City. She is recognized for her organic closeness with President López Obrador and represents, according to her own affirmation, the continuity of the current government’s policies.

Her nomination process was carried out through a set of several surveys, where, with the previous tour around the country, the candidates of Morena, PT, and PVEM were able to position themselves among the militancy of their political forces. 

From this scenario, it can be observed that Mexico could have the first woman president of the Republic, a situation that should be highlighted. On the other hand, so far, the polls show a clear advantage for the former Chief of Government Claudia Sheinbaum. And the internal struggle in Morena with the former Chancellor Marcelo Ebrard does not seem to have an impact on preferences. The movement of polls could be highlighted in the campaign stage, strategic alliances, and presidential debates, not to mention local campaigns, which have their own dynamics in the electoral process. 

Mexico will experience one of the most polarized elections, where the militancy of the political forces will not be enough, where it will be necessary to go out to the streets and win the vote of those who feel alienated from politics, where it will be evaluated if continuity is chosen or if the opposition shows itself to be inclusive and manages to capture enough votes to win.

The electoral process has just formally begun. However, the dice has been cast several weeks ago.

*Translated by Janaína Ruviaro da Silva from the original in Spanish.


National Coordinator of Electoral Transparency for Mexico and Central America. Master in Governance, Political Marketing and Strategic Communication from King Juan Carlos University (Spain). University professor.


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