YEAR OF THE WOMAN?

The underreported story of Mexico’s July 1 elections is a huge political victory for the country’s women. A look at the facts:


  • In the next congress, women will make up 47.8 percent of the lower house, 49.2 percent of the senate, and at least 50 percent of most state legislatures.
  • The former job of newly elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador—Mexico City mayor—will be held by a woman (Claudia Sheinbaum, pictured above).
  • Mexico’s lower house will have the world’s fourth-largest female legislative representation.
  • Mexico’s Senate will have the world’s second-largest female representation after Belgium.

This breakthrough has been a long time coming. For 15 years, Mexico has had mandatory quotas that require each political party to include a set percentage of women among its candidates for office. The required percentage has increased over time, but Mexican women have long complained that female candidates lacked critical support from their parties. Pressure for change has now produced a positive result.

But that’s not true in Brazil, where female participation in politics remains a source of national embarrassment. That might surprise you, given that Brazil’s most recent president was a woman. (Dilma Rousseff was impeached as part of the still-growing Lava Jato corruption scandal.) A look at the facts:

  • Women make up a little over 10 percent of the lower house and just under 15 percent of the Senate.
  • Just one of 29 members of President Michel Temer’s cabinet is a woman.
  • Of 16,131 candidates who won zero votes in Brazil’s 2016 municipal elections, 14,417 were women.
  • The country ranks 154th in world in female representation in the national legislature.

It’s not enough for a political party to put a woman’s name on the ballot. She must have the same financial and political backing from the party that male candidates receive. She must be allowed to compete in a district her party can win. At a minimum, she must be informed in advance that she’s a candidate. There have been multiple cases where Brazilian women have discovered their names on a ballot without having agreed to run.

The bottom line: No one knows how female lawmakers will change politics and policy, but only in countries where political parties genuinely want women to participate are we likely to find out.​​

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

More Show less

Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

More Show less

It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.