Mexico elects Sheinbaum as its first woman president

AP , Monday 3 Jun 2024

Mexico’s projected presidential winner Claudia Sheinbaum will become the first woman president in the country's 200-year history.

Mexico
Mexico s presidential candidate for Morena party Claudia Sheinbaum talks to supporters following the results of the general election at Zocalo Square in Mexico City, on June 3, 2024.AFP

 

The climate scientist and former Mexico City mayor said Sunday night that her two competitors had called her and conceded her victory.

“I will become the first woman president of Mexico,” Sheinbaum said with a smile, speaking at a downtown hotel shortly after electoral authorities announced a statistical sample showed she held an irreversible lead. “I don't make it alone. We've all made it, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.”

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

The National Electoral Institute’s president said Sheinbaum had between 58.3% and 60.7% of the vote, according to a statistical sample. Opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez had between 26.6% and 28.6% of the vote and Jorge Álvarez Máynez had between 9.9% and 10.8% of the vote.

The preliminary count, which started off very slowly, put Sheinbaum 27 points ahead of Gálvez with 42% of polling place tallies counted shortly after her victory speech.

The governing party candidate campaigned on continuing the political course set over the last six years by her political mentor President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

His anointed successor, the 61-year-old Sheinbaum led the campaign wire-to-wire despite a spirited challenge from Gálvez. This was the first time in Mexico that the two main opponents were women.

“Of course, I congratulate Claudia Sheinbaum with all my respect who ended up the winner by a wide margin," López Obrador said shortly after electoral authorities announcement. "She is going to be Mexico’s first (woman) president in 200 years.”

If the margin holds it would approach his landslide victory in 2018. López Obrador won the presidency after two unsuccessful tries with 53.2% of the votes, in a three-way race where National Action took 22.3% and the Institutional Revolutionary Party took 16.5%.

Earlier, Gálvez wrote on the social platform X, “The votes are there. Don’t let them hide them.”

Sheinbaum is unlikely to enjoy the kind of unquestioning devotion that López Obrador has enjoyed. Both belong to the governing Morena party.

In Mexico City’s main colonial-era main plaza, the Zocalo, Sheinbaum’s lead did not initially draw the kind of cheering, jubilant crowds that greeted López Obrador’s victory in 2018.

The main opposition candidate, Gálvez, a tech entrepreneur and former senator, tried to seize on Mexicans' concerns about security and promised to take a more aggressive approach toward organized crime.

Nearly 100 million people were registered to vote, but turnout appeared to be slightly lower than in past elections. Voters were also electing governors in nine of the country’s 32 states, and choosing candidates for both houses of Congress, thousands of mayorships and other local posts, in the biggest elections the nation has seen and ones that have been marked by violence.

The elections were widely seen as a referendum on López Obrador, a populist who has expanded social programs but largely failed to reduce cartel violence in Mexico. His Morena party currently holds 23 of the 32 governorships and a simple majority of seats in both houses of Congress. Mexico’s constitution prohibits the president’s reelection.

Sheinbaum promised to continue all of López Obrador’s policies, including a universal pension for the elderly and a program that pays youths to apprentice.

Just as the upcoming November rematch between U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump has underscored deep divisions in the U.S., Sunday's election revealed how severely polarized public opinion is in Mexico over the direction of the country, including its security strategy and how to grow the economy.

Beyond the fight for control of Congress, the race for Mexico City mayor — a post now considered equivalent to a governorship — is also important. Sheinbaum is just the latest of many Mexico City mayors, including López Obrador, who went on to run for president. Governorships in large, populous states such as Veracruz and Jalisco are also drawing interest.

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