AP

Mexico elects Claudia Sheinbaum as its first female president

Jun 3, 2024, 9:37 AM

Claudia Sheinbaum mexico president...

President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum waves to supporters at the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square, after the National Electoral Institute announced she held an irreversible lead in the election, early Monday, June 3, 2024. (Photo: Marco Ugarte, AP)

(Photo: Marco Ugarte, AP)

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

Sheinbaum, the favored successor of outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, vowed to continue in the direction set by the populist leftist leader. But the cool-tempered scientist offers a sharp contrast in style — and a break with Mexico’s male-dominated political culture.

“I promise that I am not going to let you down,” Sheinbaum said, greeting supporters in Mexico City’s colonial-era main plaza, the Zocalo.

The National Electoral Institute’s president said Sheinbaum had between 58.3% and 60.7% of the vote, while opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez had between 26.6% and 28.6% and Jorge Álvarez Máynez had between 9.9% and 10.8% of the vote. Sheinbaum’s Morena party was also projected to hold its majorities in both chambers of Congress.

More on Mexico: NASA leaders discuss global challenges, solutions with Mexico president, lawmakers and students

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

The official preliminary count put Sheinbaum 28 points ahead of Gálvez with nearly 50% of polling places reporting.

The fact that the two leading candidates were women had left little doubt that Mexico would make history Sunday.

“As I have said on other occasions, I do not arrive alone,” Sheinbaum said shortly after her victory was confirmed. “We all arrived, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.”

Sheinbaum will also be the first person from a Jewish background to lead the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

She will start her six-year term on Oct. 1. Mexico’s constitution does not allow reelection.

The leftist has said she believes the government has a strong role to play in addressing economic inequality and providing a sturdy social safety net, much like her political mentor.

López Obrador’s anointed successor, the 61-year-old Sheinbaum consistently led in polls 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 the electoral authorities’ announcement. “She is going to be Mexico’s first (female) 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%.

Still, Sheinbaum is unlikely to enjoy the kind of unquestioning devotion that López Obrador has enjoyed.

More on U.S. politics: Washington Republicans, Democrats react to Trump’s guilty verdict

In the Zocalo, Sheinbaum’s win did not draw the kind of cheering, jubilant crowds that greeted López Obrador’s victory in 2018. Those present were enthusiastic, but comparatively few in number.

Sara Ríos, 76, a retired literature professor at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, celebrated after hearing that Gálvez had conceded.

“The only way that we move forward is by working together,” Ríos said. “She is going to work to bring peace to the country, and is going to manage to advance, but it is a slow process.”

Fernando Fernández, a chef, 28, said he voted for Sheinbaum because of her ties to López Obrador, using the president’s initials, AMLO. But his highest hope is that Sheinbaum can “improve what AMLO couldn’t do, the price of gasoline, crime and drug trafficking, which he didn’t combat even though he had the power.”

The main opposition candidate, Gálvez, a tech entrepreneur and former senator, had promised a more aggressive approach toward organized crime.

In her concession speech, she said “I want to stress that my recognition (of Sheinbaum’s victory) comes with a firm demand for results and solutions to the country’s serious problems.”

López Obrador claims to have reduced historically high homicide levels by 20% since he took office in December 2018. But that’s largely a claim based on a questionable reading of statistics. The real homicide rate appears to have declined by only about 4% in six years.

Julio García, a Mexico City office worker, said he voted for the opposition because of crime.

“They’ve robbed me twice at gunpoint. You have to change direction, change leadership,” the 34-year-old said. “Continuing the same way, we’re going to become Venezuela.”

On the fringes of Mexico City in the neighborhood of San Andres Totoltepec, 34-year-old homemaker Stephania Navarrete said she planned to vote for Sheinbaum despite her own doubts about López Obrador and his party.

“Having a woman president, for me as a Mexican woman, it’s going to be like before when for the simple fact that you say you are a woman you’re limited to certain professions. Not anymore.”

She said the social programs of Sheinbaum’s mentor were crucial, but added that the deterioration of cartel violence in the past few years was her primary concern in this election.

Nearly 100 million people were registered to vote and turnout appeared to be about 60%, similar to earlier elections.

Dave Ross on Trump: If popularity creates immunity, maybe the ‘Belltown Hellcat Bandit’ should run for president

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.

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.

Associated Press writer Fabiola Sánchez contributed to this report

AP

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

10 hours ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

24 hours ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

1 day ago

Photo: A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real e...

Associated Press

Bremerton man sentenced for 20 ‘swatting’ calls of false threats in US, Canada

A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses, has been sentenced.

2 days ago

Image: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, speaks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zele...

Associated Press

Ukraine uses US weapons to strike inside Russia, a Western official tells AP

Ukraine has used U.S weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a Western official familiar with the matter told the AP.

7 days ago

boeing nasa...

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

Boeing launches NASA astronauts for the first time after years of delays

Boeing launched astronauts for the first time Wednesday, belatedly joining SpaceX as a second taxi service for NASA.

7 days ago

Mexico elects Claudia Sheinbaum as its first female president