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February 05, 2012

Mexico Nominates First Major Female Presidential Candidate

Josefina Vasquez Mota has become the first female presidential candidate from any of Mexico's major political parties.

Vasquez Mota won the ruling National Action Party primary Sunday night. The 59-year-old is hoping to revitalize support for her party in a country weary of corruption and drug violence. That violence is blamed for more than 47,000 deaths since President Felipe Calderon came to office.

Many in Mexico say they are ready for a change after 12 years under the National Action Party, and Vasquez Mota will have to convince voters her presidency would not be a continuation of Mr. Calderon's legacy.  In her favor, Calderon and the party establishment had backed another candidate.

Vasquez Mota, a one-time journalist and economist, has served in the government as a legislator, as education secretary, and as the country's first female social development secretary. She also was Mr. Calderon's campaign manager.

She will face opposition candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, from the Institutional Revolutionary Party.  Despite holding a wide lead in polls, the 45-year-old Nieto has stumbled on the campaign trail, and some in Mexico say they are not ready to hand power back to his party, which ruled Mexico for more than 70 years.

Also running is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, from the Democratic Revolutionary Party. The 59-year-old former Mexico City mayor finished a close second in the 2006 presidential election, just behind President Calderon.