Mexico’s opposition coalition picks Xóchitl Gálvez as its 2024 presidential candidate

A woman wears a helmet and dress as she rides a bike in traffic.
Sen. Xóchitl Gálvez rides a bike in Mexico City. An opposition coalition announced she will be its candidate in the June 2024 presidential election.
(Fernando Llano / Associated Press)
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Mexico’s opposition coalition announced Thursday it has chosen Sen. Xóchitl Gálvez as its candidate in next year’s presidential election.

The de facto nomination — which will be formalized when candidates are registered — suggests that Mexico’s next president will probably be a woman, as former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum leads most polls in the primary race for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party.

Mexico has never had a female president, though several women have run. The opposition coalition, known as the Broad Front for Mexico, and Morena are by far the biggest political forces in Mexico.


Gálvez is a former street-food salesgirl who became a tech entrepreneur and senator. Though she caucuses with the conservative National Action Party in the Senate, she is not a member of the party and has the kind of folksy, plainspoken style popularized by López Obrador.

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The election is June 2, and López Obrador will leave office on Sept. 30, 2024. He retains high approval ratings but cannot run for reelection, as Mexican presidents are limited to a single term.

Although she has gained ground, Gálvez remains a long shot against López Obrador’s Morena, which holds a majority in Congress and governs 22 of Mexico’s 32 states.

Arturo Sánchez Gutiérrez, a member of the coalition’s selection committee, said Gálvez was the winner of the polls that were part of the process to determine the nomination.

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“Today we know that the Broad Front for Mexico coalition will be led by Sen. Xóchitl Gálvez Ruiz,” said Sánchez Gutiérrez.

The coalition had planned to hold a public vote on the nomination Sunday but canceled it after the only other remaining contender, also a woman, essentially dropped out of the race after Gálvez swept most polls.


Gálvez will face one of six contenders who are competing for the Morena nomination. Morena will decide its nominee based on a series of opinion polls, and the winner is expected to be announced Sept. 6.

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Sheinbaum is the favorite in Morena’s primary race, but former Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is also in the running.

Gálvez faces obstacles, including López Obrador’s popularity and his avowed willingness to break a long tradition in Mexican politics and actively use his presidency to campaign against her.

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López Obrador has used tax information to accuse Gálvez of insider dealing in government contracts, something she denies, noting that the López Obrador administration has contracted services from her companies.

Courts and electoral authorities have warned López Obrador against using government airtime and resources to attack Gálvez.

But Gálvez also faces challenges in her own coalition, a mishmash of conservative, centrist and progressive forces united only by their opposition to López Obrador.


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The coalition is made up of the conservative National Action Party, known as PAN; the small progressive Democratic Revolution Party; and the old-guard Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which held Mexico’s presidency without interruption between 1929 and 2000.

As a girl, Gálvez, 60, helped her family by selling tamales on the street. She grew up poor in the central state of Hidalgo, and her father was an Indigenous Otomi schoolteacher. She learned to speak his native Ñähñu language as a child, and holds her Indigenous roots close. She favors wearing the loose embroidered Indigenous blouse known as a huipil.

A free-spirited political independent who often travels the sprawling capital on bicycle, Gálvez is known for cracking occasional off-color jokes. She entered the Senate chamber in December dressed up as a dinosaur, an allusion to party leaders known for their archaic, unmovable practices.

Next year’s election is López Obrador’s chance to show whether he has built a political movement that can outlast his charismatic leadership. His successor will have to tackle persistently high levels of violence, heavily armed drug cartels and migration across the nearly 2,000-mile border with the United States.

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