Women Candidates Gain Increasing Attention in Mexican Gubernatorial, Presidential Elections

SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, July 14, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Women Candidates Gain Increasing Attention in Mexican Gubernatorial, Presidential Elections

The political misfortunes of the center-right Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) and the rebound of the former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) in July elections shared the headlines with another trend in Mexican politics: the emergence of strong women candidates.

One of the most significant developments during the month was the historic election of the PRD's Amalia Garcia Medina as governor of Zacatecas state. Garcia, who previously served as a federal deputy and PRD president, is the first woman elected in her own right to a major state-level post.

Other women have served in executive posts in modern times, but they were appointed as replacements for outgoing officials. In 1999, Rosario Robles of the PRD became mayor of Mexico City, succeeding Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who relinquished the post to run for president (see SourceMex, 1999-10-06). Similarly, Dulce Maria Sauri Riancho served as interim governor in Yucatan in 1991-1994. She resigned because of differences with the party hierarchy (see SourceMex, 1995-06-14). Both Robles and Sauri went on to serve as presidents of their respective parties.

Amalia Garcia easily wins Zacatecas governor's race

Garcia, who will succeed outgoing PRD Gov. Ricardo Monreal, won the Zacatecas election by a wide margin, obtaining 46% of the vote against 33% for rival Jose Bonilla, who was representing a coalition formed by the PRI, the Partido del Trabajo (PT), and the Partido Verde Ecologista Mexicano (PVEM). Francisco Lopez Garcia of the PAN lagged far behind with only 15% of the vote. Amalia Garcia's father, Francisco Garcia Estrada, served as Zacatecas governor in 1956-1962.

Amalia Garcia's strong performance reflected a trend in voter preferences toward the PRD and away from the PRI that began with Monreal's election in 1998 (see SourceMex, 1998-07-08). The July 4 election will allow the PRD to again dominate the state legislature, with the party winning 12 of the 19 electoral districts. In addition, the PRD will obtain three of the 10 at-large seats allocated on the percentage of the vote received by the party.

The governor-elect credited her victory to heavy participation by women voters in the election. "Never before had I seen women so involved in the political process and in leadership roles in their communities," said Garcia. She noted that women had been forced into leadership roles because a large percentage of the state's male population had migrated to the US.

The PRD victory in Zacatecas was a bright spot in what has been a difficult political year for the party, which has been plagued by corruption scandals in Mexico City and charges that the capital's Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador violated the Mexican Constitution by ignoring several court orders (see SourceMex, 2004-03-10 and 2004-05-26).

Sen. Maricarmen Ramirez seeks Tlaxcala governor's seat

The PRD also has the possibility of placing a second woman in a governor's seat in elections in Tlaxcala later this year. PRD Sen. Ramirez, the wife of outgoing Gov. Alfonso Sanchez Anaya, is seeking the PRD nomination to succeed her husband in the state's Nov. 4 gubernatorial election. Several public-opinion polls show her leading other potential PRD candidates. Ramirez does not, however, enjoy universal support among national and state PRD members ahead of the party's July 18 internal election in Tlaxcala.

Gerardo Fernandez Norona, the PRD's national secretary for social movements, urged Ramirez to withdraw her candidacy to avoid possible accusations of a conflict of interest, especially since she could be perceived to be receiving unfair support from her husband. In addition, said Fernandez Norona, Ramirez, as a relative of Sanchez Anaya, could technically be violating the constitutional principle of nonsuccession.

Fernandez Norona made his comments just after another controversy regarding the possible candidacy of first lady Marta Sahagun erupted in early July.

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Women Candidates Gain Increasing Attention in Mexican Gubernatorial, Presidential Elections


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