Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico election: Josefina Vazquez Mota

Josefina Vazquez Mota

Josefina Vazquez Mota is bidding to become Mexico's first female president.

She has served as leader of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in the Chamber of Deputies.

Before that, she was education minister in Felipe Calderon's government and social development minister in the previous administration.

Ms Vazquez Mota, 51, triumphed in her party's primary election in February, winning grassroots support to beat Mr Calderon's supposed favourite for the post.

But the divisions within the PAN have marred her campaign, which got off to a shaky start and led her to overhaul her team and appeal for the party to unite behind her.

"I have decided to change course, I am demanding that we leave the party's internal conflicts behind and once and for all work together toward victory," Ms Vazquez Mota said.

Ms Vazquez Mota, running on the slogan "Josefina is different", has been at pains to distance herself from Mr Calderon.

His offensive against the drug gangs began in late 2006; public concern has grown as drug-related violence has claimed more and more lives.

Ms Vazquez Mota has pledged more focus on the victims of the drug violence, but has insisted she is not prepared to negotiate with organised crime gangs.

Ms Vazquez Mota wrote a self-help book in 1999 called God, Please Make Me A Widow: The Challenge of Being Yourself, which aimed to encourage girls to break free of gender stereotypes.

"Little girls are taught to be dependent, incapable of valuing themselves in many aspects of their daily lives," she wrote.

Among her campaign advertisements is one that declares: "I will be a president in a skirt, but I will wear the pants."

But her campaign has also focused on her role as a mother of three.

After her main rival Enrique Pena Nieto admitted he did not know the price of tortillas as he was not "the lady of the house", Ms Vazquez Mota retorted that she had juggled running her own household with running a government department.

Ms Vazquez Mota, in line with her party's position, opposes abortion but has indicated that she does not support criminalising women who seek abortion services.

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