Women, Violence, and the 2024 Mexican Elections

Mexico's 2024 elections promise historic gains for women in politics. Parity laws and inclusion efforts are changing the landscape. Yet, increased risks of gender-based political violence threaten this progress.

Women, Violence, and the 2024 Mexican Elections
A close-up of shattered glass shaped like the country of Mexico, with a single pink rose lying on top.

Mexico marches towards the 2024 elections. It's a familiar path, yet the road signs are new, hinting at an uncharted vista of gender representation in politics. The Center for Studies for the Achievement of Gender Equality (CELIG), a think-tank that sits in the Chamber of Deputies, has released a provocative piece of research: “Women towards the 2024 elections.” Through it, a fascinating mosaic of progress and challenges emerges.

Mexico has a habit of making headlines with its 'largest elections in history' narrative. 2018 and 2021 were landmark years, boasting a record number of positions up for grabs. But there's a crucial element defining these milestones. The principle of 'total parity' in candidacies propelled a surge in female representation. More women than ever before vied for elected positions, and more women won seats of power. It's a testament to a nation striving to redefine how its political fabric is made up.

Yet, as any captivating tale goes, there's always a dark thread within the vibrant strands. Alongside a historic rise in women candidates, there's the sobering prediction from experts that political violence against women will likely escalate. This violence weaves its way through the digital realm, with social networks emerging as battlefields of a different kind. Records from 2023 paint a worrying picture– 43 complaints of political gender violence highlight that while legislation is advancing, real-world safety remains elusive.

A Fight for Space and Security

The paradox is jarring. Mexican laws valiantly champion the political rights of women. Yet, the very act of women claiming their rightful place in the arena of representation invites a backlash born from lingering inequalities. It's a struggle seen around the world, but Mexico's unique socio-political environment adds its own texture to this conflict.

The fight for parity, the push for a '3 of 3 Law' (which looks to ensure equal gender representation across the three branches of government), and the drive to classify and address political gender violence – these are not just items on a legislative agenda. They're rallying cries for a society still grappling with the complexities of true equality. They're reminders that the road to equal representation is long, arduous, and paved with both victories and the persistent specter of resistance.

Amidst the challenges, however, there's a flicker of unyielding optimism. Think of it as a weird strain sewn into the fabric of this narrative. With the inclusion of candidates from vulnerable populations, Mexico is taking yet another step forward. The 2024 elections, while likely to be fraught with tension, are also an experiment in expanding the definition of representation beyond familiar lines. They are an acknowledgment of the diverse voices that shape a nation.

This is the story of an election season like no other – a season poised to further redefine how power and authority are held and exercised in Mexico. It's a season rife with possibilities, yes, but it's also one riddled with the ever-present push and pull between progress and deep-rooted societal challenges.

The real story lies in the women who will step into the fray. It's in the communities working to dismantle violence in all its forms. And, it's in the audacity of dreaming that 'the largest elections in history' can, this time, also become a touchstone for the most inclusive, safest, and most representative elections Mexico has ever seen.

A Prelude to the 2024 Elections

In the Mexican democracy, every election is a spectacle, a vivid performance where the nation's fate hangs in the balance. From the bustling streets of Mexico City to the sleepy towns of rural Oaxaca, the political machinery churns, and the people cast their votes. With each electoral cycle, the stage is set anew, the actors take their places, and the drama unfolds.

In the year 2018, the stage saw its fair share of drama as the nation elected its president along with 128 senators and 500 deputies. It was a moment of hope, of anticipation, as the Mexican people looked towards the future with optimism and determination. But as the dust settled and the applause faded, the reality of governance set in, and the nation braced itself for the challenges ahead.

Fast-forward to 2021, and the stage lights flickered once again as the midterm elections swept across the country. This time, the focus was on the Chamber of Deputies, six governorships, and a myriad of local councils scattered throughout Quintana Roo, Durango, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Chiapas, and the State of Mexico. It was a dizzying array of campaigns, debates, and promises as politicians vied for power and influence in the halls of government.

And now, in the year 2024, the stage is set for yet another electoral event. Organized by the National Electoral Institute (INE), the upcoming elections promise to be the most expansive yet, with over 20,000 federal, state, and municipal positions up for grabs. From the highest office in the land to the smallest local council, every position is contested, every vote counts.

But the road to power is not an easy one. It is a journey fraught with challenges and obstacles, a labyrinth of rules and regulations that must be navigated with skill and cunning. The journey begins with the pre-campaigns, a period of testing the waters, of gauging public opinion, and building momentum for the battles to come. From November 20, 2023, to January 18, 2024, candidates crisscross the country, shaking hands, kissing babies, and making promises they may or may not intend to keep.

But the real fun begins with the inter-campaign, a curious period that stretches from January 19 to February 29, 2024. It is a time of suspense, of anticipation, as candidates jockey for position, maneuvering for advantage in the political landscape. It is a time of intrigue and speculation, as rumors swirl and alliances form and dissolve with the changing winds of fortune.

And then, finally, comes the formal campaigns, the main event, the moment when the curtain rises and the spotlight shines brightest. From March 1 to May 29, 2024, candidates crisscross the country once again, this time with a sense of urgency and purpose. It is a time of rallies and speeches, of debates and town hall meetings, as candidates make their final pitch to the voters, hoping to sway hearts and minds in their favor.

But even as the campaigns rage on, there are still hurdles to overcome, still challenges to be faced. For those aspiring to independent candidacies, the path to power is particularly treacherous. They must collect the required percentage of citizen support, a daunting task that requires skill, determination, and no small amount of luck. For the presidency of the republic, it is 1% of the nominal list of voters in the country, distributed across at least 17 federal entities with an equal percentage in each of them.

Women, Crime, and the Strive for Parity

As the nation braces itself for the forthcoming Presidential election, speculation swirls like dust in a desert storm. One thing, however, appears certain: a seismic shift looms on the horizon, heralding the advent of a historic first – a woman poised to ascend to the highest office in the land.

The CELIG document, a compass navigating the labyrinth of Mexican politics, hints at this impending milestone. Within its pages, amidst the statistical analyses and prognostications, lies a declaration that reverberates with the promise of transformation: “What is certain is that it will be, for the first time, a woman.”

But as Mexico prepares to embark upon this uncharted course, the path forward is anything but clear. Survey data paints a mosaic of public sentiment, with acceptance percentages fluctuating like the tides of the Gulf. Yet, beneath the surface, deeper currents roil – the politicization of Mexican society, a surging tide that threatens to engulf the democratic process in its wake.

The specter of organized crime looms large, casting a shadow over the electoral landscape. In the aftermath of the 2021 midterm elections, the grim toll of cartel violence stands as a stark reminder of the perils that beset Mexican democracy. Nearly a hundred candidates, activists, and election operators fell victim to the insidious machinations of criminal syndicates, their lives snuffed out in a tragic testament to the fragility of the democratic experiment.

In the face of such adversity, the choices confronting Mexican citizens are stark and unyielding. Fear, a potent motivator in a land besieged by violence and uncertainty, serves as both catalyst and deterrent. For some, the specter of reprisal compels active engagement – a defiant stand against the encroaching darkness. For others, the instinct for self-preservation dictates withdrawal, a retreat into the safety of silence and anonymity.

Yet amidst the chaos and tumult, a glimmer of hope emerges – the promise of parity. Across Mexico's 32 states, the wheels of reform grind slowly but inexorably, as the nation strives to fulfill the mandate of gender equality enshrined in its constitution. The journey towards parity has been long and arduous, marked by incremental progress and stubborn resistance. But with each passing year, the momentum builds, as political parties grapple with the imperative of inclusivity.

The 2019 constitutional reform, a watershed moment in Mexico's ongoing struggle for gender equity, heralds a new era of opportunity and challenge. The principle of “parity in everything” demands nothing less than full representation for women in every sphere of public life – a radical departure from the current conditions. Yet, for all its promise, the path to parity is fraught with obstacles, as entrenched interests and entrenched attitudes collide in a struggle for supremacy.

As Mexico stands poised on the brink of history, the future hangs in the balance. In the corridors of power and the streets of every town and village, the voices of a nation clamor to be heard. In the crucible of democracy, the fate of a nation is forged – a nation poised between darkness and light, between despair and hope. And in the end, it is the choices we make – as individuals, as a society, as a nation – that will shape the destiny of Mexico for generations to come.

Mexico's Politicians Climb Back Into Power

The gears of democracy churn slowly, or perhaps not slowly enough for some. As Mexico's 2023-2024 Federal Electoral Process looms, a curious phenomenon is afoot. Nearly half of the country's federal deputies and a third of its senators are lacing up their political dancing shoes, ready to do a repeat performance on the grand stage of power.

The National Electoral Institute has the numbers, the cold, hard facts that betray a trend some may find heartwarming, while others view it with a critical eye. Is this a sign of experience and competency, or merely a symptom of political entrenchment?

Let's break it down. Out of 467 federal deputies who expressed their intent for re-election, a near-perfect split between the sexes is represented. We've got 50.3% women and 49.7% men eager to keep the ball rolling. The picture is similar in the Senate: 45.5% women and 54.5% men. It's a picture of near-equality in the corridors of power, or at least in the desire to remain there.

The question on everyone's mind: is this a healthy evolution of Mexico's democracy or a step towards creating a political elite? And how many consecutive terms can one dance the re-election tango before it gets, well, a bit stale?

Among those seeking a second spin on the political merry-go-round, 350 deputies are looking for their first re-election, while 117 are aiming for the sophomore experience – they've tasted the allure of office and want another bite of the policy-making apple. Perhaps these seasoned politicians feel they've just begun to hit their stride. Or, maybe, they've grown rather fond of the rhythm of life in power.

Adding a peculiar twist to the tale, 42 federal deputy substitutes are joining the re-election fray. It's a curious move. Substitutes step in when primary deputies are unavailable. Now, they seek the limelight for themselves. It begs the question – what unique perspective do they bring? A burning desire to move from the understudy role to center stage? Only time, and voters, will tell.

The Voices of Debate

As with all things political, the re-election trend has sparked a firestorm of opinions. Proponents highlight the value of experience. Tried and tested politicians know the ropes, they argue, saving precious time in a system known for its occasional molasses-like pace.

Critics, however, paint a less flattering picture. They see a risk of stagnation, of power becoming too comfortable and resistant to fresh ideas. Whispers of 'career politicians' and 'entrenched interests' swirl in the smoky backrooms where public perception is forged.

The oddities of this trend, the subtle narratives entwined into those who embrace it, will face their ultimate test in the sanctity of the voting booth. The citizens of Mexico hold the final brushstroke, their collective choices shaping the landscape of the nation's future. It's a democratic drama with high stakes, and the music is about to start. Will the electorate opt for continuity and seasoned performers, or will they yearn for the energy and fresh faces of political newcomers?

As the campaign posters unfurl with familiar smiles, remember – the true power lies not in the ambition to be re-elected, but in the hands of those who decide if the show deserves an encore.

In-text Citation: (Espinosa Torres, 2024, pp. 14-17)