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Mexico elects Claudia Sheinbaum as first female president

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“I can’t do it alone,” Sheinbaum said. “We all achieved it, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.”

Mexico elects Claudia Sheinbaum as first female president

President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum greets supporters in the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square, after the National Electoral Institute announced she holds an irreversible lead in the election, early Monday, June 3, 2024. AP Photo/Marco Ugarte

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico’s future presidential winner, will become the first female president in the country’s 200-year history.

“I will become the first female president of Mexico,” Sheinbaum said with a smile, speaking at a downtown hotel shortly after election authorities announced that a statistical sample showed she held an irreversible lead. “I can’t do it alone. We all achieved it, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.

“We have demonstrated that Mexico is a democratic country with peaceful elections,” she said.

The president of the National Electoral Institute said Sheinbaum received between 58.3% and 60.7% of the vote, according to a statistical sample. Opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez had between 26.6% and 28.6% of the vote and Jorge Álvarez Máynez had between 9.9% and 10.8% of the vote. Sheinbaum’s Morena party is also expected to hold a majority in both houses of Congress.

The climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City said both of her competitors called her out and conceded victory.

The official preliminary count puts Sheinbaum 28 points ahead of Gálvez with nearly 50% of polling stations reported.

The ruling party's presidential candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, greets her supporters.
Ruling party presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum greets supporters after the National Electoral Institute announced she holds an irreversible lead in elections in Mexico City, Monday, June 3, 2024. – AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

The fact that both leading candidates were women left no doubt about Mexico’s ability to make history on Sunday. Sheinbaum will also be the first person of Jewish origin to lead this predominantly Catholic country.

She will begin her six-year term on October 1. The Mexican constitution does not allow re-election.

The left said it believed the government had an important role to play in tackling economic inequality and providing a strong social safety net, as did its political mentor, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Sheinbaum’s victory suggests that the political movement created by López Obrador will endure after his presidency.

His designated successor, Sheinbaum, 61, led the campaign wire-to-wire despite a spirited challenge from Gálvez. It was the first time in Mexico that the two main opponents were women.

“Of course, I congratulate with all my respect Claudia Sheinbaum who was the clear winner,” López Obrador said shortly after the electoral authorities’ announcement. “She will be the first (female) president of Mexico in 200 years.”

If the margin holds, she would move closer to her landslide victory in 2018. López Obrador won the presidency after two failed attempts with 53.2% of the vote, in a three-way race where National Action received 22.3%. and the Institutional Revolutionary Party 16.5%.

Still, Sheinbaum is unlikely to enjoy the kind of unconditional dedication that López Obrador enjoys.

In Mexico City’s colonial-era main square, the Zocalo, Sheinbaum’s victory did not draw the kind of enthusiastic, jubilant crowd that greeted López Obrador’s victory in 2018. Those present were enthusiastic, but relatively few.

“I promise I won’t let you down,” Sheinbaum said once she arrived at the square.

Sara Ríos, 76, a retired literature professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, celebrated after learning that Gálvez had conceded.

“The only way to move forward is to work together,” Ríos said. “She will work to bring peace to the country and she will succeed in moving forward, but it is a slow process. »

Fernando Fernández, a 28-year-old chef, acknowledged the challenges ahead as he waits to see the results in the square.

“You vote for Claudia by conviction, for AMLO,” Fernández said, referring to López Obrador by his initials. But his biggest hope is that Sheinbaum can “improve what AMLO couldn’t do, the price of gasoline, crime and drug trafficking, which he didn’t fight even though he did.” had the power.”

The main opposition candidate, Gálvez, a technology entrepreneur and former senator, had promised to take a more aggressive approach to organized crime.

In her concession speech, she said: “I would like to emphasize that my recognition (of Sheinbaum’s victory) is accompanied by a firm demand for results and solutions to the country’s serious problems. »

Nearly 100 million people were registered to vote and turnout appeared to be around 60%, a figure similar to previous elections.

Voters also elected governors in nine of the nation’s 32 states and chose candidates for both houses of Congress, thousands of city halls and other local offices in the nation’s most important elections in history. by violence.

The elections were widely seen as a referendum on López Obrador, a populist who expanded social programs but largely failed to reduce cartel violence in Mexico. His Morena party currently holds 23 of 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 young people in apprenticeships.

Continued cartel violence and Mexico’s poor economic performance were voters’ top concerns.

Julio García, a Mexico City office worker, said he was voting for the opposition in Mexico City’s central San Rafael neighborhood. “They robbed me twice at gunpoint. We need to change direction, change leadership,” said the 34-year-old. “By continuing on the same path, we will become Venezuela.”

On the outskirts of Mexico City, in the San Andres Totoltepec neighborhood, election officials encountered Stephania Navarrete, a 34-year-old housewife, who watched as dozens of cameramen and election officials gathered where front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum was to vote .

Navarrete said she considered voting for Sheinbaum despite her own doubts about López Obrador and his party.

“Having a woman president, for me as a Mexican, will be like before when, just because you say you are a woman, you are limited to certain professions. No more.”

She said Sheinbaum’s mentor’s social programs were crucial, but added that worsening cartel violence in recent years was her main concern in this election.

“It’s something they need to focus more on,” she said. “For me, safety is the biggest challenge. They said they were going to reduce the level of crime, but no, it was the opposite, they increased. Obviously, I don’t completely blame the president, but in a way it’s his responsibility.”

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

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

Associated Press writer Fabiola Sánchez contributed to this report.

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