Women who have won the popular vote to become head of state?
November 9, 2016 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May never ran as specific candidates at the countrywide level, but rather were elected from within their parties, a much smaller subset of the population. Was that also the case with Angela Merkel?

And if any women were elected directly by the people, or in a system relatively proportional (such as the US's electoral college) were any of them women who were not related to a previous male head of state (e.g. Corazon Aquino, Indira Gandhi, Eva Peron)?
posted by pocketfullofrye to Law & Government (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
michelle bachelet in chile. not related to a previous head of state, afaik, but chilean political circles are pretty small.
posted by andrewcooke at 11:58 AM on November 9, 2016

much smaller subset of the population. Was that also the case with Angela Merkel?

No (second paragraph)

And Merkel at least isn't related to a previous male head of state.
posted by Namlit at 12:00 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Violeta Chamorro in Nicaragua, Dilma Rousseff in Brazil.
posted by dilettante at 12:05 PM on November 9, 2016

Pedantry: Angela Merkel and Theresa May are not heads of state. They are heads of government. In the United States, that's the same thing. The head of state of the United Kingdom, though, is the Queen, who, as you know, was not elected and is related to previous male heads of state. Also note that, in most cases, the head of government will be elected by a parliament, not by a general election.

Actual answer: Dilma Rousseff of Brazil.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:08 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's not quite correct in relation to Margaret Thatcher. She was elected leader of the Conservative Party through the usual process for that party, a series of ballots within the party. But she served three terms as Prime Minister after leading the Conservatives to victory in three consecutive General Elections.

In the UK we don't vote for 'Prime Minister' - we don't need to elect a Head of State, as we already have her in The Queen. In a General Election the political party with the majority of Members of Parliament will be in Government, with the leader of that party as Prime Minister. So to that extent, Thatcher 'won' three elections, as the figurehead for the Conservative Party.
posted by essexjan at 12:09 PM on November 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Helen Clark, prime minister1 of New Zealand for three terms. Won the 1999 election against another woman, Jenny Shipley, who did take over as a result of a leadership challenge.

1 Not technically head of state, that job is taken by Queen Elisabeth II. I guess you could also quibble that the prime minister is a not directly elected position, but the electorate voted for her party on the understanding that she would be prime minister.
posted by AndrewStephens at 12:12 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

German electoral politics still confuse me (heck, the electoral college still confuses me!) but no-- Merkel was not elected by the German people. She was elected by the Bundestag.
posted by athirstforsalt at 12:13 PM on November 9, 2016

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
posted by sparklemotion at 12:13 PM on November 9, 2016

This site might interest you (you'll need to go research the circumstances for each one to filter for your criteria)
posted by sparklemotion at 12:17 PM on November 9, 2016

If you're asking if Angela Merkel was elected by the German people, the answer is no. Merkel is chancellor (below the President and the President of the Bundestag) and was elected by the Bundestag, which is somewhat similar to the US House of Representatives.
posted by amf at 12:17 PM on November 9, 2016

Tsai Ing-Wen was directly elected by the people of Taiwan earlier this year and is not related to previous male heads of state.
posted by inconstant at 12:23 PM on November 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Mary Robinson was elected president of Ireland in 1990 and Mary McAleese succeeded her in 1997. I don't think either of them are closely related to other important politicians. There has not been a female Taoiseach (head of government) yet in the Republic of Ireland.

Oh and Iceland has had both a female president and a female prime minister.
posted by mskyle at 1:20 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Tarja Halonen was elected president of Finland in 2000.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:32 PM on November 9, 2016

Julia Gillard was narrowly re-elected Prime Minister of Australia in 2010 after being elected by the Labor Party party earlier that year.
posted by mewsic at 5:09 PM on November 9, 2016

Golda Meir of Israel -again, head of government, not head of state. She initially succeeded Levi Eshkol when he died in office, but later led her party to great electoral success.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:19 AM on November 10, 2016

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