Image Source : AP Claudia Sheinbaum, who is set to become Mexico’s first female president.

Mexico City: Mexico’s presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, widely projected to emerge as the winner of Sunday’s election, has said that her two competitors had called her and conceded her victory. “For the first time in the 200 years of the republic, I will become the first woman president of Mexico,” Sheinbaum said with a smile, as election authorities announced a statistical sample showing her with an irreversible lead.

The 61-year-old climate scientist and former policymaker had between 58.3 per cent and 60.7 per cent of the vote, according to a statistical sample. Opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez had between 26.6 per cent and 28.6 per cent of the vote and Jorge Álvarez Máynez had between 9.9 per cent and 10.8 per cent of the vote. 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. 

Imminent victory for Sheinbaum is a major step for Mexico, a country known for its macho culture and home to the world’s second-biggest Roman Catholic population, which for years pushed more traditional values and roles for women. This election makes Sheinbaum the first woman to win a general election in the United States, Mexico or Canada. “Of course, I congratulate Claudia Sheinbaum with all my respect who ended up the winner by a wide margin,” López Obrador said shortly after the electoral authorities announcement. “She is going to be Mexico’s first (woman) president in 200 years.” His Morena party currently holds 23 of the 32 governorships and a simple majority of seats in both houses of Congress.

India Tv - Claudia Sheinbaum addresses supporters after winning the electrion.

Image Source : REUTERSClaudia Sheinbaum addresses supporters after winning the electrion.

“I never imagined that one day I would vote for a woman,” said 87-year-old Edelmira Montiel, a Sheinbaum supporter in Mexico’s smallest state Tlaxcala. “Before we couldn’t even vote, and when you could, it was to vote for the person your husband told you to vote for. Thank God that has changed and I get to live it,” Montiel added. This was the first time in Mexico that the two main opponents were women.

Sheinbaum’s policies and challenges

As the first woman president of Mexico, Sheinbaum has to balance promises to increase popular welfare policies while inheriting a hefty budget deficit and low economic growth. She has vowed to improve the security situation of Mexico, which is in the midst of the most violent history with 38 political candidates assassinated before the vote. Many analysts say organized crime groups expanded and deepened their influence during Lopez Obrador’s term.

Two more people were killed during Sunday’s presidential election. The issue of violent crime has emerged as one of the top issues in this year’s presidential contest, in which the ruling party of outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been forced to defend a persistently high murder rate. Sheinbaum has promised to continue Obrador’s policies, including apprenticeships for students to dissuade them from joining drug cartels, and has maintained her own leadership style.

India Tv - Opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez addressing supporters after the results

Image Source : REUTERSOpposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez addressing supporters after the results

Obrador says fighting the drug cartels — which have taken over large swaths of Mexico, extorting protection money from all walks of life — is a foreign idea, one imposed on Mexico by the United States. He has limited cooperation with US authorities in fighting the gangs, but this policy has failed to curb the violence that has gripped the country, as the homicide rate touched 30,000 per year.

“Unless she commits to making a game-changing level of investment in improving policing and reducing impunity, Sheinbaum will likely struggle to achieve a significant improvement in overall levels of security,” said Nathaniel Parish Flannery, an independent Latin America political risk analyst. Additionally, the new presidency in Mexico will also entail tense negotiations with the Unietd States over the huge flow of migrants crossing the Latin American country and security cooperation over drug trafficking.

Mexican officials expect these negotiations to be more difficult if the US presidency is won by Donald Trump in November. Trump has vowed to impose 100 per cent tariffs on Chinese cars made in Mexico and said he would mobilize special forces to fight the cartels. Domestically, Sheinbaum also has to address electricity and water shortages, along with economic challenges. She has promised to expand welfare programs, despite a large deficit in the country this year.

Who is Claudia Sheinbaum?

Sheinbaum, 61, is a trained scientist and a policymaker who shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace for their work on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She is regarded close to President Obrador, having been appointed as the environmental minister of Mexico City in 2000, before being appointed as Mayor from 2018 to 2023. She was widely expected to trounce her rivals in the presidential race.

Sheinbaum’s closest competitor was Xóchitl Gálvez, a tech entrepreneur and former senator, who tried to seize on Mexicans’ concerns about security and promised to take a more aggressive approach toward organised crime. She left the Senate last year to focus on Obrador’s decision of “hugs not bullets” approach towards drug cartels.

India Tv - Presidential candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who trails far behind in third place.

Image Source : REUTERSPresidential candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who trails far behind in third place.

Another candidate in the running is Jorge Álvarez Máynez, a newcomer to the presidential race in Mexico, who has grabbed attention due to his bold policy proposals and progressive vision for Mexico’s future. The 38-year-old politician has called for strengthening police forces, reducing incarceration rates and pushing a renewed focus on police training and community engagement.

There are also 20,000 congressional and local positions up for grabs. The race for the Mexico City Mayor is particularly important, almost equal to a governorship. The ruling MORENA party has also declared its candidate the winner of the Mexico City mayorship race, but the opposition has disputed this claim.

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

(with inputs from agencies)

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