Claudia Sheinbaum Becomes Mexico’s First Female President

06:17 June 3, 2024

Claudia Sheinbaum Becomes Mexico’s First Female President

Election officials in Mexico say Claudia Sheinbaum will become the country's first female president.

Sheinbaum won a large victory in Sunday’s election after promising to continue the policies of outgoing leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

In early results, Sheinbaum received between 58 percent and 61 percent of votes. It is the most support won by a candidate in a Mexican presidential election since the end of one-party rule in 2000.

Sheinbaum thanked Lopez Obrador in a speech she gave after the results became clear. She called him "an exceptional, unique man who has transformed Mexico for the better."

Lopez Obrador doubled the minimum wage, reduced poverty, and oversaw a strengthening peso and low levels of unemployment. His popularity helped Sheinbaum to victory in the election. But experts believe Sheinbaum will find it difficult to follow in his footsteps.

Her victory is a big change for Mexico, a country known for its masculine culture. Also, the country is home to the world's second biggest Roman Catholic population, which has supported traditional values and roles for women. In addition to that, Sheinbaum will be the first Jewish person to lead the country.

Her main opponent, Xochitl Galvez, admitted defeat after receiving 27 to 29 percent of the vote.

The 61-year-old Sheinbaum will take office on October 1. The politician is the first woman to win a general election in the United States, Mexico or Canada. Mexico joins Latin American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama that all voted women to the highest office.

Sheinbaum has promised to expand the welfare policies that helped make Lopez Obrador popular and that aided her victory. However, Mexico now has a large budget deficit and low economic growth.

Her policy goals will be helped by strong support in Congress. Early results show her ruling party called Morena and its allies might gain a supermajority in both houses of Congress.

Mexico’s high levels of violence will be one of her most immediate difficulties after she takes office. She has promised to improve security but has given few details.

The 2024 election was the most violent in Mexico's modern history. Thirty-eight candidates were murdered. Many experts say organized crime groups expanded and deepened their power during Lopez Obrador's term.

More people have been killed during Lopez Obrador’s term in office than during any other administration in Mexico's modern history. The number is over 185,000. Supporters say the rate has been slowly decreasing.

Sheinbaum’s training is in science. She has a doctoral degree in energy engineering. She was among the members of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. In 2023, Sheinbaum told The Associated Press, “I believe in science.”

Observers said that belief showed itself when Sheinbaum was mayor of Mexico City during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city of 9 million people did not follow what Lopez Obrador did at the national level.

While the federal government did not place importance on coronavirus testing, Mexico City expanded testing. Sheinbaum set limits on businesses' hours and capacity when the virus was rapidly spreading. Lopez Obrador wanted to avoid any measures that would hurt the economy. She also publicly wore face coverings and urged social distancing while the president was still appearing in crowds.

Sheinbaum has praised Lopez Obrador and said little that the president has not said himself. She blamed what some call neoliberal economic policies for ensuring that millions of people remain poor. She promised a strong welfare state. She also praised Mexico’s large state-owned oil company, Pemex, while also promising to push clean energy.

Sheinbaum has rejected opposition claims that she would be a "puppet" of Lopez Obrador. But she has promised to continue his policies including those that target Mexico's poor.

Jason Marczak is with the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. He said: "There is an expectation that she will continue the policies of Lopez Obrador, but also become her own president at the same time.”

I’m Dan Novak.

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