Claudia Sheinbaum elected as Mexico’s first woman president

Claudia Sheinbaum elected as Mexico’s first woman president

Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling Moreno party has won the presidential election in Mexico, becoming the first woman to lead the country.

A former mayor of the capital Mexico City, Ms Sheinbaum was the frontrunner from almost the start, leading in opinion polls against her main competitor Xochitl Galvez. While Ms Sheinbaum has Jewish heritage, Ms Galvez is an Indigenous woman.

Ms Sheinbaum succeeds Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, who has been described as her political mentor.

One of the primary challenges facing the new president is organised crime and cartel violence. Lopez Obrador’s term reportedly saw more murders than any other administration in Mexico’s modern history.

Mexican presidents are elected to serve a single six-year term.

It was only about 70 years ago that Mexico gave women the right to vote and Ms Sheinbaum’s victory is a testament to how far the country known for its “macho culture” has come, experts said.

The election was one of the largest ever in Mexico, with nearly 100 million people registered to vote. It was also one of the most violent in modern history, marked by the murders of 38 candidates.

Still, voters turned out in large numbers, seeking change and stability amid ongoing threats from warring drug cartels.

On her way to vote on Sunday morning, Ms Sheinbaum said it was a “historic day”.

“Everyone must get out to vote,” she said.

She has pledged to continue all of Mr Lopez Obrador’s policies, including a universal pension for the elderly and a programme that pays young people to apprentice.

“There is no doubt about the triumph of Claudia Sheinbaum,” Mario Delgado, the ruling party’s leader said on Sunday. “Today sovereignty, independence and democracy have triumphed.”

“We are facing an unprecedented feat in our country,” Mr Delgado was quoted as saying by La Jornada. “The people of Mexico have taken a leap towards complementarity and balance, blocking the way for a morally and politically tiny opposition, a racist, classist and corrupt minority, whose only project was to ruin the country in order to keep it and hand it over to transnational monsters. Today sovereignty, independence and democracy have triumphed.”

Stephania Navarrete, 34, a homemaker from the neighbourhood of San Andres Totoltepec in Mexico City, was quoted as saying by Politico: “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 are limited to certain professions. Not anymore.”

“For me security is the major challenge. They said they were going to lower the levels of crime, but no, it was the opposite, they shot up. Obviously, I don’t completely blame the president, but it is in a certain way his responsibility.”

In 2023, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Mexico as the seventh worst country when it came to impunity for violence against the press. According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 37 journalists have been killed since Lopez Obrador took office. In April, a journalist’s murder in Morelos led to protests outside the prosecutor’s office, demanding greater accountability.

Ms Sheinbaum starts her term on 1 October.

Alongside her, the voters elected a new Congress as well as governors in nine states.