Mexico elects Claudia Sheinbaum as its first female president


MEXICO CITY (AP) – The likely winner of the Mexican presidential election Claudia Sheinbaum can be the primary female president within the country's 200-year history.

“I will be the first female president of Mexico,” Sheinbaum said, smiling at a downtown hotel, shortly after electoral authorities announced that a statistical sample showed she had an irreversible lead. “I cannot do this alone. We all did it, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.”

“We have shown that Mexico is a democratic country with peaceful elections,” she said.

The president of the National Electoral Institute said that based on a statistical sample, Sheinbaum received between 58.3 and 60.7 percent of the vote. Opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez had between 26.6% and 28.6% of the vote and Jorge Álvarez Máynez between 9.9% and 10.8% of the vote. Sheinbaum's Morena party was also awarded a majority in each houses of Congress.

The Climate researcher and former mayor of Mexico City said her two competitors called her and acknowledged her victory.

According to the preliminary official count, Sheinbaum is 28 points ahead of Gálvez, with nearly 50% of polling stations reporting their results.

The ruling party's presidential candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, greets her supporters.
Ruling party presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum greets her supporters after the National Electoral Institute announced early Monday, June 3, 2024, that she had an irreversible lead within the election in Mexico City. – AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

The proven fact that the 2 leading candidates were women left little doubt that Mexico would make history on Sunday. Sheinbaum will even be the primary person from a Jewish background to guide the predominantly Catholic country.

She will begin her six-year term on October 1. The Mexican structure doesn’t provide for re-election.

The Left has said that they believes that the federal government has a crucial role to play in tackling economic inequality and providing a stable social safety net, just like that of their political mentor, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Sheinbaum's victory suggests that the political movement created by López Obrador will continue to exist beyond his presidency.

His designated successor, 61-year-old Sheinbaum, led the campaign from start to complete despite a vigorous challenge from Gálvez, the primary time in Mexico that the 2 major opponents were women.

“Of course, I congratulate Claudia Sheinbaum with all due respect, who ultimately emerged as the winner by a wide margin,” said López Obrador shortly after the election authorities' announcement. “She will be Mexico's first female president in 200 years.”

If this lead holds, it could come near his landslide victory of 2018. López Obrador won the presidency after two unsuccessful attempts with 53.2 percent of the vote in a three-way race through which the National Action Party won 22.3 percent and the Institutional Revolution Party 16.5 percent.

Still, Sheinbaum is unlikely to benefit from the unconditional devotion that López Obrador has experienced.

In the Zócalo, Mexico City's colonial-era major square, Sheinbaum's victory didn’t draw the sort of cheering crowds that greeted López Obrador's victory in 2018. Those in attendance, while enthusiastic, were relatively few in number.

“I promise I won’t disappoint you,” Sheinbaum said as she arrived on the square.

Sara Ríos, 76, a professor emeritus of literature on the National Autonomous University of Mexico, cheered when she heard that Gálvez had conceded defeat.

“We will only move forward if we work together,” Ríos said. “She will work to bring peace to the country and she will make progress, but it is a slow process.”

Fernando Fernández, a 28-year-old chef, acknowledged the challenges ahead as he waited on the pitch for the outcomes.

“You vote for Claudia out of conviction, for AMLO,” said Fernández, referring to López Obrador's initials. But his biggest hope is that Sheinbaum “can improve what AMLO could not, namely the gasoline prices, crime and drug trafficking that he did not fight, even though he had the power to do so.”

The major opposition candidate, Gálvez, a technology entrepreneur and former senator, had promised to take a more aggressive approach to organized crime.

In her speech on the occasion of her defeat, she said: “I want to emphasize that my recognition (of Sheinbaum's victory) comes with a firm demand for results and solutions to the serious problems facing the country.”

Nearly 100 million people were registered to vote and voter turnout appears to have been around 60%, just like previous elections.

In addition, voters in nine of the country's 32 states elected governors and candidates for each houses of Congress, in addition to 1000’s of mayoral and other local offices. These were the most important elections the country has ever seen and elections marked by violence.

The elections were widely seen as a referendum on Lopez Obrador, a populist who has expanded social programs but largely Failure to curb cartels’ violence in Mexico. His Morena party currently holds 23 of the 32 governorships and has an easy majority of seats in each houses of Congress.

Sheinbaum promised to proceed all of López Obrador's policies, including a universal pension for the elderly and a program to compensate young apprentices.

The ongoing cartel violence and Mexico's mediocre economic performance were the major issues on voters' minds.

Julio García, a Mexico City office employee, said he voted for the opposition within the central district of San Rafael. “They robbed me twice at gunpoint. We have to change direction, change leadership,” said the 34-year-old. “If we continue like this, we will become Venezuela.”

On the outskirts of Mexico City, within the San Andres Totoltepec neighborhood, election officials marched past 34-year-old housewife Stephania Navarrete, who watched as dozens of cameramen and election officials gathered where leading candidate Claudia Sheinbaum was scheduled to solid her vote.

Navarrete said she plans to vote for Sheinbaum, despite her own doubts about López Obrador and his party.

“For me as a Mexican, having a female president will be like the old days when you were limited to certain jobs just because you were a woman. That's no longer the case.”

She said Sheinbaum's mentor's social programs were critical, but added that the worsening of cartel violence lately was her biggest concern on this election.

“That's what they need to focus more on,” she said. “For me, security is the biggest challenge. They said they would reduce crime, but no, the opposite has happened, it's skyrocketed. Of course, I don't blame the president entirely, but in some ways it is his responsibility.”

López Obrador claims he has reduced the historically high murder rate by 20 percent since taking office in December 2018. But that claim is basically based on a questionable interpretation of statistics. The actual murder rate appears to have fallen by only about 4 percent in six years.

Just because the upcoming rematch between US President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in November underscored the deep divisions within the US, Sunday’s election revealed how strongly polarized public opinion lies in Mexico over the direction of the country, including its security strategy and learn how to grow the economy.

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