Maverick Mexican Senator Xochitl Galvez has effectively secured the main opposition candidacy for next year’s presidential election after picking up the endorsement of a key party, which dumped its own contender.
Galvez’s success moves Mexico a step closer to the prospect of a first female president, with recent polls suggesting that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s (AMLO) dominant governing party is leaning towards selecting a female candidate to succeed him.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Galvez is seen by many analysts as best placed to challenge AMLO’s left-wing National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). Her victory came after the head of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mexico’s former rulers, said the PRI would back her instead of its own hopeful, Beatriz Paredes.
“This is just beginning,” Galvez said on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday, as the opposition released survey results showing her polling more support than her PRI rival. “Nobody will stop us.”
Still, the way the PRI abandoned Paredes took the shine off what had appeared to be an imminent win for Galvez endorsed by voters as the race for the opposition alliance’s presidential ticket was due to conclude with a ballot on Sunday.
Surrounded by sombre-looking party colleagues, PRI chairman Alejandro Moreno told a news conference that because of the polling results, his party was now fully behind Galvez. Paredes, a senator and one-time leader of the PRI, was notably absent.
Even some allies of Galvez said the PRI’s intervention in the race was unlikely to inspire confidence in the process.
.@BeatrizParedes es una mujer inteligente y de altura política.
Su talento y capacidad serán importantísimos para el Frente Amplio por México.
Reconozco su generosidad y compromiso con México.
— Xóchitl Gálvez Ruiz (@XochitlGalvez) August 31, 2023
Translation: @BeatrizParedes is an intelligent woman with political standing. His talent and capacity will be extremely important for the Broad Front for Mexico. I recognise your generosity and commitment to Mexico, Galvez wrote on Wednesday.
A spirited communicator with an irreverent sense of humour, Galvez represents the centre-right National Action Party (PAN), a longtime rival and now ally of the centrist PRI. The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) had previously said it was backing Galvez.
She is widely viewed as the contender who could do most to weaken the iron hold MORENA has on national politics, which has consigned the PRI, PAN and PRD to a string of heavy defeats.
Expressing support for business even as Lopez Obrador has railed against corporate greed, Galvez, 60, boasts an appeal that can cut across class divides. Like the president, she also connects with poorer Mexicans better than many of her peers.
Since entering the race in June, Galvez has energised the opposition.
Renowned for her ebullience and adept at creating publicity, Galvez has crafted her pitch as one of triumph over adversity, describing how she became a successful entrepreneur after growing up in an impoverished family with indigenous roots.
As a girl, she sold gelatin and tamales to help her family. She worked as a scribe in a local civil registry office as a teen. At 16, she moved by herself to Mexico City and worked as a phone operator until earning a scholarship that allowed her to study computer science. Then she started a technology company, that, as Lopez Obrador noted recently, has won government contracts.
MORENA is due to announce its candidate on September 6 after national polling. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has led recent voter surveys, feeding expectations that she could face off against Galvez.