Mexico elects Claudia Sheinbaum as first woman president


Claudia Sheinbaum looks set to win by a landslide. Photo: Efe

By Vanessa BuschschlüterBBC News, June 3: Claudia Sheinbaum has been elected as Mexico's first woman president in a historic landslide win.

Mexico's official electoral authority said preliminary results showed the 61-year-old former mayor of Mexico City winning between 58% and 60% of the vote in Sunday's election.

That gives her a lead of almost 30 percentage points over her main rival, businesswoman Xóchitl Gálvez.

Sheinbaum will replace her mentor, outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on 1 October.

Sheinbaum, a former energy scientist, has promised continuity, saying that she will continue to build on the "advances" made by Mr López Obrador.

In her victory speech, she told voters: "I won't fail you."

Her supporters are celebrating at the Zócalo, Mexico City's main square, waving banners reading "Claudia Sheinbaum, president".

Prior to running for president, Ms Sheinbaum was mayor of Mexico City, one of the most influential political positions in the country and one that is seen as paving the way for the presidency.

Ms Sheinbaum, whose Jewish maternal grandparents immigrated to Mexico from Bulgaria fleeing the Nazis, had an illustrious career as a scientist before delving into politics. His paternal grandparents hailed from Lithuania.

Both of her parents were scientists and Ms Sheinbaum studied physics before going on to receive a doctorate in energy engineering.

She spent years at a renowned research lab in California studying Mexican energy consumption patterns and became an expert on climate change.

That experience and her student activism eventually earned her the position of secretary of the environment for Mexico City at the time when Andrés Manuel López Obrador was mayor of the capital.

In 2018 she became the first female mayor of Mexico City, a post she held until 2023, when she stepped down to run for president.

The election, which pitted Ms Sheinbaum against Ms Gálvez, has been described as a sea change for women in Mexico.

Edelmira Montiel, 87, said that she was grateful to be alive to see a woman elected to the top office.

"Before, we couldn't even vote, and when you could, it was to vote for the person your husband told you to vote for. Thank God that has changed and I get to live it," she told the Reuters news agency, referring to the fact that women were only allowed to vote in national elections in 1953.

While the fact that the two front-runners were women was widely celebrated, the campaign was marred by violent attacks.

As well as a new president, voters were also electing all members of Mexico's Congress and governors in eight states, the head of Mexico City's government, and thousands of local officials.

And it was local candidates in particular who were targeted in the run-up to the vote.

The government says more than 20 were killed across Mexico, although other surveys put the total at 37.

Xóchitl Gálvez, Sheinbaum's rival, harshly criticised the government and her rival in the presidential race for the violence which blights large parts of Mexico.

She promised to be "the bravest president, a president who does confront crime" if elected but failed to provide many details about how she would tackle the powerful criminal cartels which are behind much of the violence.

López Obrador, who has been in power since 2018, was barred from running for a second term under Mexico's constitution, which limits presidents to a single six-year term.

He threw his weight behind Ms Sheinbaum instead.

Having the backing of the popular president, who has an approval rate of close to 60%, gave Ms Sheinbaum's campaign a huge boost.

Many of those voting for her said they backed Morena's programme to alleviate poverty and wanted to see it continued.

The party boasts about how millions of Mexicans have been lifted out of poverty during the past six years.

However, economists have pointed out that there are also other factors at play, such as a rise in remittances being sent by Mexicans living abroad to their families at home, but voters appear to have backed what they see as a winning formula.

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