Congratulations to Iceland and Mexico

They’ve elected women to run their countries. This is not a guarantee of an improvement (just remember Margaret Thatcher), but it does improve the odds.

Iceland has elected Halla Tomasdottir to the presidency. She’s billed as an “entrepreneur” and “businessperson,” which are not reassuring criteria, but she did say this:

A climate and nature emergency demands urgent, inclusive action, conformity simply won’t unlock the leadership we need. It’s time to transform how we lead, and in a world of low trust we need to get better at co-creating solutions with those impacted. A livable world can best be secured if women, in solidarity with male allies, unite to redefine leadership norms; dismantle barriers; and move toward sustainable, people-first approaches. This demands courageous collaboration. The most important question we must now ask is, how will we choose to lead at a time like no other for humanity?


Mexico has elected its first woman president, Claudia Sheinbaum. She has a Ph.D. in energy engineering, and previously served as an environmental secretary. She promoted education (Yay!) and policing (boo.) Leftist activist and climate scientist, what’s not to like?

I’m feeling even more discouraged by our choices in the US presidential election. Why can’t we have any educated, progressive women on the ballot?


  1. says

    Iceland has had a female president before. The culture is very gender egalitarian. The interesting breakthrough is Mexico.

  2. whheydt says

    Not only has Iceland had a woman as president before, but 6 of the 12 people that were running this time were women, including one who resigned as Prime Minister to run for president.

  3. raven says

    A climate and nature emergency demands urgent, inclusive action, conformity simply won’t unlock the leadership we need.

    She does mention “nature emergency” presumably meaning the volcanic eruptions that occur frequently in Iceland.

    Since Iceland is at the border between two tectonic plates, it is always going to have volcanic eruptions somewhere.
    This latest one is slowly destroying the town of Grindavik and is close to their main population center.

  4. says

    I haven’t read her specific statement on policing, but Mexico has a terrible problem with drug money corrupting politics. If — and I specify IF — her focus is on arresting and trying powerful people the government has evidence have been breaking corruption laws, then more power to her. That’s a necessary enforcement of law in any time and place, and particularly important in Mexico’s present moment. If she’s backing the blue to back the blue, even though they are violating the poor and powerless in order to look like they’re doing something even as they studiously ignore the threats that they have been bribed to ignore, then that’s a huge problem and a policy with which I will take issue.

  5. gijoel says

    Why can’t we have any educated, progressive women on the ballot?

    Cause god said they have to be bare foot and pregnant. /s

  6. says

    I agree with Crip Dyke. Mexico has a major crime/corruption problem from the cartels and their reach even including the government. Depending on the context of the statement she gets a pass.

    I don’t think it’s “back the blue” pablum.

  7. numerobis says

    She promoted education (Yay!) and policing (boo.)

    In the Mexican context, the choice is police vs military. Mexico is currently stuck in a literal war over drugs — not the Nancy Reagan hyperbole stuff, but real heavy military equipment and armed forces. There’s no way you actually support that over local policing.

    Vincente Fox sent in the military instead of the police to deal with drug cartels, and AMLO continued that. The reason is that the police had been thoroughly infiltrated by the cartels. AMLO was trying to clean up the police so it could be useful again, and it seems his successor wants to continue that.

    The main issue that Mexico faces in the drug war is that it’s got little to do with Mexico itself. The money and the guns come from the US, the drugs come from South America. They’re just stuck in the middle.

  8. clsi says

    For the record, we do have an educated, progressive woman on the ballot, she’s just not at the top. I know she’s not everyone’s favorite, but as politicians go, we could do a helluva lot worse. And if she’s reelected, she’ll be just one very old heartbeat away from the presidency.

  9. ANB says

    I’m with Crip Dyke on this one in all that they say. Mexico has a huge problem with police corruption.

  10. asclepias says

    I’m pleasantly surprised. I haven’t followed closely enough to remember, but I think Sheinbaum was the opposition candidate. We’ll see how things go. Mexico is definitely still a machista country. I was listening to Latino U.S.A. last weekend, and a man interviewed said he was “ashamed” that a woman would be president one way or another. I’m hoping that she doesn’t get assassinated just a few months into her presidency.

  11. numerobis says

    @asclepias : Sheinbaum was AMLO’s chosen successor, very much not the opposition.

    Second place was the main opposition; also a woman, also an engineer, indigenous rather than jewish. No matter what, this election result was going to be historic.

    Third place was a dude who had no real chance but managed to do far better than anticipated.

  12. Lauren Walker says

    Not to diminish Halla’s victory, but the President of Iceland is more of a ceremonial post. The Prime Minister is the head of government, which was recently held by another woman Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who resigned to run for president. She came in second. Actually, the top 3 finishers were women, but this isn’t unusual for Iceland. As was mentioned above, Iceland is very egalitarian and I believe ranks highest among gender equality in the world. Here are some other fun facts:
    Iceland had the first democratically elected female president of any nation (Vigdis Finbogadottir) from 1980-1996. And they also elected the first openly gay head of government in the world, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who also happened to be a woman and served from 2009-2013.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    I remember Vigdis Finnbogadottir well. People in Sweden srarted to ask why we still have not had any woman prime minister (we still have not, to our embarrassment).
    BTW it is not like there is a high bar of performance to pass for the highest office; Farron Cousins: “Trump’s Mental State Implodes Following Conviction”

  14. rietpluim says

    It may be a hasty generalization, and Thatcher notwithstanding, but I tend to believe that women generally do make better leaders. There are just too many examples.

  15. robro says

    Headline from the Onion this afternoon: “Senate Passes Emergency Border Funding To Prevent Female Leadership From Spreading To U.S.”

  16. robro says

    Mexico’s organized crime and political corruption situation goes beyond drugs, although that’s an important part of it. There’s also trafficking in money, weapons, and humans. I assume these are not easy problems to resolve at best and it’s much more difficult given US policy toward Latin America as a whole, and Central America in particular. The same American oligarchs and politicians who want to put ethnic minorities and women “back in their places” probably long for the days when Central America was their little fiefdom.

  17. WhiteHatLurker says

    policing (boo.)

    Really Dr Myers? Mexico could really do with a lot better system of law enforcement. The crime statics will bear that out – like this occurrence that I heard about on a radio interview as I went home this evening.

    Having a population who feels safe is an admirable goal. One that other nations should strive for, though Iceland seems to have that – from this distant perspective.

  18. erik333 says

    @13 birgerjohansson
    Dunno, both times the woman didn’t get elected it turned out they were corrupt… so not much lost in those cases.

  19. petesh says

    Also worth noting, the headline in Nature: “Scientist elected president of Mexico”

  20. says

    I was reading about Sheinbaum, who seems like a good choice. My main concern is that she’s got that certain fasc-adjacent personal style that we know from TFG, coupled with the anti-establishment forces that propelled her into office. Maybe that doesn’t mean disaster, but ask me again in a couple of years.

  21. John Morales says

    Peter Zeihan’s take on it:

    Is Mexico’s New President Just a Puppet for AMLO? || Peter Zeihan

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