Claudia Sheinbaum becomes the first female president of Mexico

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

The climatologist and former mayor of Mexico City said Sunday night that her two competitors called her and acknowledged her victory.

“I will become Mexico’s first female president,” Sheinbaum said with a smile, speaking at a downtown hotel shortly after electoral authorities announced that a statistical sample showed she had an irreversible lead. “I can’t do it alone. We have all done 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,” he said.

The president of the National Electoral Institute said that Sheinbaum obtained between 58.3% and 60.7% of the votes, according to the statistical sample. The opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez obtained between 26.6% and 28.6% of the votes and Jorge Álvarez Máynez obtained between 9.9% and 10.8% of the votes.

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

The climatologist and former mayor of Mexico City said Sunday night that her two competitors called her and acknowledged her victory.

“I will become Mexico’s first female president,” Sheinbaum said with a smile, speaking at a downtown hotel shortly after electoral authorities announced that a statistical sample showed she had an irreversible lead. “I can’t do it alone. We have all done 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,” he said.

The president of the National Electoral Institute said that Sheinbaum obtained between 58.3% and 60.7% of the votes, according to the statistical sample. The opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez obtained between 26.6% and 28.6% of the votes and Jorge Álvarez Máynez obtained between 9.9% and 10.8% of the votes.

The preliminary count, which started very slowly, placed Sheinbaum 27 points ahead of Gálvez with 42% of the votes counted shortly after his victory speech.

The candidate of the governing party campaigned to continue with the political course set during the last six years by her political mentor, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

His anointed successor, Sheinbaum, 61, led the campaign from start to finish despite Gálvez’s spirited challenge. This was the first time in Mexico that the two main opponents were women.

“Of course, I respectfully congratulate Claudia Sheinbaum who was the winner by a wide margin,” López Obrador said shortly after the announcement by the electoral authorities. “She is going to be the first (female) president of Mexico in 200 years.”

If the margin holds, he would get closer to his landslide victory in 2018. López Obrador won the presidency after two failed attempts with 53.2% of the vote, in a three-way race in which Acción Nacional took 22 .3% and the Institutional Revolutionary Party 16.5. %.

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

Sheinbaum, described by Agence France-Presse as a “committed leftist and known for keeping a cool head in times of crisis,” is the granddaughter of Bulgarian and Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, AFP notes.

But AFP quotes Pamela Starr, a professor at the University of Southern California, as saying that, unlike López Obrador, Sheinbaum “is not a populist.”

“She’s much more of a left-wing politician” and is probably “less ideological” than the outgoing president, Starr said.

Sheinbaum is considered unlikely to enjoy the kind of unconditional devotion that López Obrador has enjoyed. Both belong to the ruling Morena party.

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

Fernando Fernandez, a 28-year-old chef, joined the relatively small crowd in hopes of a Sheinbaum victory, but even he acknowledged there were problems.

“You vote for Claudia out of conviction, for AMLO,” Fernández said, referring to López Obrador by his initials, as most Mexicans do. But his greatest hope is that Sheinbaum can “improve what AMLO could not do, the price of gasoline, crime and drug trafficking, which he did not fight even though he had power.”

Also in the crowd, Itxel Robledo, 28, a business administrator, expressed hope that Sheinbaum would do what López Obrador did not. “What Claudia has to do is put professionals in each area.”

Elsewhere in the city, Yoselin Ramirez, 29, said she voted for Sheinbaum, but split her vote for other offices because she didn’t want anyone to have a strong majority.

“I don’t want everything to be occupied by the same party, so that there can be a little more equality,” he said without giving further details.

The main opposition candidate, Gálvez, a technology entrepreneur and former senator, tried to tap into 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 previous elections. Voters also elected governors in nine of the country’s 32 states and chose candidates for both houses of Congress, thousands of mayoral offices and other local offices, in the most important elections the nation has ever seen and one that has been marked by violence.

The election was 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 occupies 23 of the 32 governorships and a simple majority of seats in both chambers of Congress. Mexico’s constitution prohibits the reelection of the president.

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

Gálvez, whose father was an Otomi Indian, went from selling snacks on the street in his poor hometown to starting his own technology companies. A candidate for a coalition of major opposition parties, she left the Senate last year to focus her ire on López Obrador’s decision to avoid confronting drug cartels through his “hugs, not bullets” policy. She promised to more aggressively pursue criminals.

The biggest points of contention

Persistent cartel violence and Mexico’s lackluster economic performance were the main issues on voters’ minds.

Julio García, a Mexico City office worker, said he was voting for the opposition in Mexico City’s central San Rafael neighborhood. “I have been robbed twice at gunpoint. We have to change direction, change leadership,” said the 34-year-old man. “By following the same path, we are going to become Venezuela.”

On the outskirts of Mexico City, in the San Andrés Totoltepec neighborhood, election officials paraded alongside housewife Stephania Navarrete, 34, who watched dozens of cameramen and election officials gather where Sheinbaum was going to vote.

“Having a woman president, for me as a Mexican, is going to be like before when by the simple fact of saying that you are a woman you limit yourself to certain professions. Not anymore.”

He said Sheinbaum’s mentor’s social programs were crucial, but added that the deterioration of cartel violence in recent years was his main concern in this election.

“That’s something they need to focus more on,” he said. “For me, security is the big challenge. They said they were going to lower crime levels, but no, it was the opposite, they skyrocketed. Obviously I don’t entirely blame the president, but I do in a way.” his responsibility.”

In Iztapalapa, the largest district in Mexico City, Angelina Jiménez, a 76-year-old housewife, said she came to vote “to end this inept government that says we are doing well and (there are still) so many deaths.”

She said the violence plaguing Mexico really worried her, so she planned to vote for Gálvez and his promise to take on the cartels. López Obrador “says that we are better and it is not true. We are worse.”

López Obrador claims to have reduced historically high homicide levels by 20% since taking office in December 2018. But that is largely a claim based on a questionable reading of statistics. The actual homicide rate appears to have fallen only about 4% in six years.

Electoral similarities between the United States and Mexico

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

Navarrete said he planned to vote for Sheinbaum despite his own doubts about López Obrador and his party.

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

This story was originally published by CBS News on June 3, 2024 at 8:36 am ET.

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