What to know about Mexico’s presidential election

What to know about Mexico’s presidential election

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the day of the election.

Mexico is set to go to the polls Sunday in a critical presidential election to decide who will replace the outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a populist whose nationalist stances have defined an on-and-off again relationship with the U.S.

López Obrador was elected in 2018. Mexico’s presidents are barred from running for a second six-year term.

Who are the Mexican presidential candidates?

The race’s front-runner is former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who is from López Obrador’s Morena party and received his endorsement, though questions about her background have left some wondering if she will fully follow in his footsteps.

Sheinbaum faces a pair of rivals: Xóchitl Gálvez from the opposition alliance led by the conservative National Action Party and Jorge Álvarez Máynez from the minor Citizens’ Movement.

FILE – This combination of two file photos shows Xochitl Galvez, left, arriving to register her name as a presidential candidate on July 4, 2023, in Mexico City, and Claudia Sheinbaum, right, at an event that presented her as her party’s presidential nominee on Sept. 6, 2023, in Mexico City. The two women, considered the frontrunners in Mexico’s presidential election, discussed social spending and climate change in the race’s second debate Sunday, April 28, 2024, which also included Jorge Álvarez Máynez. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

Either Sheinbaum or Gálvez would be the country’s first female president, and Sheinbaum its first Jewish head of state.

Gálvez trails Sheinbaum by double digits in polls of the race, with Máynez’s support falling below 10 percent.

What does Morena support?

López Obrador founded Morena in 2014 and has molded the party’s left-leaning populist platform in his image.

Sheinbaum has embraced López Obrador’s policies, including oil expansion, railroad construction and government-backed welfare, but The Associated Press reported that her more traditional left-wing background could see some ideas fall to the wayside.

Who is Claudia Sheinbaum?

Sheinbaum’s background is in academia, achieving a Ph.D. in environmental engineering before going into government. Despite four years at the helm of the country’s largest city, her personal life remains an enigma to many, and she carries a very reserved character.

Now the likely successor to her mentor in the gregarious López Obrador, she faces a balancing act between clinging to his popular policies and forging her own path in national politics.

That path could include taking power away from the army and giving it to police, the opposite of López Obrador’s strategy; investing in renewable energies; and embracing modern technology in government.

She comes from a family of leftist political activists and became politically active as a student, far from López Obrador’s quick rise and populist appeal that has drawn comparisons between him and former President Trump.

Sheinbaum also speaks fluent English, unlike López Obrador. She did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, and her daughter lives in the U.S., meaning her presidency could lead to a more positive relationship with the U.S. than López Obrador’s at times standoffish tenure.

What’s at stake for Mexico? USMCA, legislative elections

The 2020 successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the USMCA, is also up for renegotiation in 2026, meaning the next president will take Mexico’s seat at the table in the critical economic pact.

All 628 seats in Mexico’s Senate and Chamber of Deputies will be up for election this weekend, adding weight to the election’s importance. About 100 million people are expected to go to the polls nationwide.

Updated May 28 at 1:30 p.m.

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