Mexico votes in an election likely to choose the country’s first female president - GulfToday

Mexico votes in an election likely to choose the country’s first female president


Xochitl Galvez (L) shows her ballot and Claudia Sheinbaum shows her thumb after voting at a polling station during the general election in Mexico City on Sunday. Reuters

Mexicans went to the polls on Sunday to vote for who will likely be the country's first female president, voicing concerns overwhelmingly about security, from the power of Mexico's drug cartels down to street-level stick-ups.

They were choosing between two women, a former academic who promises to continue outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's populist policies and an ex-senator and tech entrepreneur who pledges to up the fight against deadly drug cartels. A third, male candidate from a smaller party had focused his attention on the youth vote.

Turnout appeared to be high, with long lines of voters trying to cast their ballots early as much of the country continued to suffer a heat wave. Voters said security and their concerns over violence in many parts of the country was top of mind as they stepped into voting booths.

Nearly 100 million people are registered to vote in the race to replace outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Voters were also electing governors in nine of the country’s 32 states, and choosing candidates for both houses of Congress, thousands of mayorships and other local posts, in the biggest elections the nation has seen and ones that have been marked by violence.

The elections are widely seen as a referendum on López Obrador, a populist who has expanded social programs but largely failed to reduce cartel violence in Mexico. His Morena party currently holds 23 of the 32 governorships and a simple majority of seats in both houses of Congress. Mexico’s constitution prohibits the president’s reelection.

Both major presidential candidates are women, and either would be Mexico's first female president. A third candidate from a smaller party, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, trailed far behind.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is running with the Morena party. Sheinbaum, who leads in the race, has promised to continue all of López Obrador’s policies, including a universal pension for the elderly and a program that pays youths to apprentice.

Opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, whose father was Indigenous Otomi, rose from selling snacks on the street in her poor hometown to start her own tech firms. A candidate running with a coalition of major opposition parties, she left the Senate last year to focus her ire on López Obrador’s decision to avoid confronting the drug cartels through his "hugs not bullets” policy. She has pledged to more aggressively go after criminals.

The persistent cartel violence, along with Mexico's middling economic performance, are the main issues on voters' minds.

Julio García, a Mexico City office worker, said he was voting for the opposition in Mexico City’s central San Rafael neighborhood. "They’ve robbed me twice at gunpoint. You have to change direction, change leadership,” the 34-year-old said. "Continuing the same way, we're going to become Venezuela.”

On the fringes of Mexico City in the neighbourhood of San Andres Totoltepec, electoral officials filed past 34-year-old homemaker Stephania Navarrete, who watched dozens of cameramen and electoral officials gathering where frontrunner Claudia Sheinbaum was set to vote.

Navarrete said she planned to vote for Sheinbaum despite her own doubts about López Obrador and his party.

"Having a woman president, for me as a Mexican woman, it’s going to be like before when for the simple fact that you say you are a woman you’re limited to certain professions. Not anymore.”

Associated Press

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