From selling candy to running for the Mexican presidency: Who is Xóchitl Gálvez, AMLO's opponent who is promoting a pact to combat organized crime?

With experience in the administration of Vicente Fox and in the Senate, she presents herself as the candidate for change against Claudia Sheinbaum.

Mexico will elect a new president next Sunday, June 2. After six years of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), he cannot seek a consecutive mandate. With the current president out of the equation, Mexicans will have to choose between continuity and change, in the latter case, embodied by Xóchitl Gálvez.

Born on February 22, 1963, she is an engineer by training and has an outstanding political career as well as a rags-to-riches history that leads her to empathize with the electorate. Of humble origins, she began selling candy in her native Tepatepec, and thirty years later, she was honored as Businesswoman of the Year. The World Economic Forum later listed her as “one of the 100 global leaders of the world's future.”

Shortly after, she decided to roll up her sleeves and enter the tumultuous world of politics, in which she already served as an official during the Government of Vicente Fox as mayor of the Mexico City neighborhood of Miguel Hidalgo and national senator until 2023. As a next step, she will seek to complete this record with a victory in the presidential elections.

"True change begins with citizen involvement"

Gálvez, who enjoys getting around by bicycle, began in politics with Fox and was in charge of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples, an organization that she herself promoted. As the first director, she promoted a reform to recognize and protect the rights and culture of Indigenous peoples, one of her historical political flags along with the fight against crime, social inclusion policies (education, health and housing), and gender equality.

"Indigenous peoples are a fundamental part of the cultural wealth of Mexico. We must respect and protect their rights, as well as promote their active involvement in the political and social life of the country," she expressed in this regard.

As for her family, she is in a relationship with Ruben Sánchez Manzo, a businessman with a rock band. The couple has a son, Juan Pablo, and supports a daughter, Diana, whom Gálvez has from another relationship.

Once Fox's administration ended, she waited four years to make her debut in electoral politics, when she was a candidate for governor of Hidalgo for the coalition "Hidalgo unites us,” which was made up of the National Action parties (PAN), the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Labor Party (PT). Despite being defeated by five percentage points, this election raised her profile at the national level and would be the starting point for Miguel Hidalgo's delegation head candidacy in 2015.

She won those elections with 32% of the votes and subsequently led a management in which she once again valued gender equality, rural development and the stimulation of citizen participation. On this last point, she organized popular consultations to define investment priorities considering citizens' opinions, as well as creating spaces for dialogue between the government and civil society to promote transparency and accountability.

She restructured public administration, eliminating six of nine general directorates and reducing bureaucracy. She also expanded social assistance and employment programs to train and promote the labor and economic inclusion of the most vulnerable sectors.

In the Senate

Xóchitl Gálvez arrived at the Mexican Upper House in 2018, where she became the president of the Indigenous Affairs Commission.

Her legislative career includes promoting various reforms, such as increasing clean energy, punishing transmission of sexual content, eliminating forced labor, and recognizing the labor rights of domestic workers and Afro-Mexican towns and communities.

Despite flirting with the governorship of Mexico City in 2023, she finally decided to go one step further and seek the presidency. If she achieves this, she will become the first woman in history to reach the National Palace.

What does Xóchitl Gálvez believe in?

Regarding her ideology, she defined herself as "politically colorblind" and has even mocked those who try to pigeonhole her further to the right or further to the left.

"Here they go from saying I'm a horrible Trotskyist, from the left to being from the extreme right. Make a decision on how you want to attack me," she declared during the campaign.

As she acknowledged during a legislative discussion, she began her political career in the Marxist Workers' League (LOM). She also stated that her ideological origin is "Trotskyist" but that she has converted to the "center-left."

Unlike the PAN, a party that is included in her electoral alliance, she is in favor of abortion and regulating marijuana consumption.

Gálvez's proposals to become president: security, small businesses and renewable energies

Her political agenda is marked by forceful rhetoric in favor of increasing security efforts. For example, she has promised the construction of a prison "for the worst criminals," with the aim of ending detention centers being "places where extortion takes place, where privileges are granted and where criminals are not afraid to come. There will be no other priority for me than public safety […] I will be a brave president,” she said in this regard.

At the same time, regarding drug trafficking, she proposes refocusing the Armed Forces on the fight against organized crime and calling for a "great national agreement" that brings together the different sectors within the Government, Congress, and society.

Regarding her economic policy, she said that she would focus on the development of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) and propose creating a special program for the creation of new ventures led by young people.

She also promised stricter fiscal control to moderate inflation, which dropped to 4.66% annually in 2023. “We cannot spend more than we earn since that means compromising the future. With us, there will be inflation control, and the money will reach Mexicans better,” said Gálvez.

Finally, her other campaign pillar is the transition to renewable energies, accelerating it to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons. For López Obrador, this last proposal is directly "unviable" and would cost hundreds of jobs in the sector.

Foreign policy

Gálvez harshly criticized AMLO for "bowing down" to Donald Trump, an attitude she considered "regrettable." She also criticized the current president's management for not being tougher when demanding the regularization of migrants. "We do not demand the regularization of Mexican migrants who could be in a position to do so in the United States; we do not demand economic support so that those migrants who return have a situation of respect for their human rights; a failure in foreign policy," she expressed.

However, if she became president, she would stress the importance of the relationship with the United States. "We are the main exporter to the United States, the country that exports the most to the United States. They are our main partner, with people, tourists who come to Mexico from North America as well," she said.

The candidate also promised to distance herself from the authoritarian regimes of the world, which is why she regretted that AMLO "has invited dictators to his parades, like that of Cuba, or their armies, like those of Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, to the national parade in Mexico."

What do the polls say?

With these credentials, Xóchitl Gálvez will try to become the first woman to be president of Mexico on June 2, when she will face Claudia Sheinbaum (AMLO's candidate) and Jorge Álvarez Máynez.

Voting intention polls favor Sheinbaum, who remains firm in the lead. According to the latest Mitofsky survey, carried out at the beginning of May, the continuity candidate would win with 56% of the votes, compared to 32% for Gálvez and 11% for Máynez.