Mexico Elects Leftist Claudia Sheinbaum As First Female President In Landslide

Mexico has a new president, marking two historical firsts as Claudia Sheinbaum’s Sunday election by a landslide will make her the first woman to enter the country’s highest office, as well as the first Jewish person.

Sheinbaum’s ruling Morena party is also on track to hold majorities in both chambers of Congress, a possible two-thirds supermajority where reform measures can be passed with no opposition. Thus President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s left-wing party will continue its mandate, and Sheinbaum is his handpicked successor.

Claudia Sheinbaum, AFP

The 61-year-old is former mayor of Mexico City and a climate scientist by training. Her chief opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, also a woman, has called Sheinbaum to concede in addition to Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the small Citizen’s Movement party.

The National Electoral Institute announced that she won around 58-60 percent of votes, according to AFP, which is over 30 percentage points ahead of main opposition rival Galvez. One international outlet has observed of the big numbers she put up:

But this is absolutely a landslide victory, much larger than anyone had expected in fact. And it could be in fact the largest percentage of votes that any candidate has had in recent history in Mexico, including Lopez Obrador himself, an extremely popular president.

But it appears Claudia Sheinbaum has even beaten him.

“I will become the first woman president of Mexico,” Sheinbaum declared from Mexico city, after landslide election projections were released.

“I don’t make it alone. We’ve all made it, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters,” she added. “We have demonstrated that Mexico is a democratic country with peaceful elections.”

Her six-year term begins on Oct.1. She has vowed continuity with her predecessor López Obrador:

“We have made possible the continuity and progress of the fourth transformation. I commit to you that I will not let you down. There is history, there is homeland, there is people, and there is commitment,” she said.

Below is a list of national issues she’s up against going into office, compiled by The Associated Press:

  • ONGOING VIOLENCE: López Obrador claims to have reduced historically high homicide levels by 20% since he took office in December 2018. But that’s largely a claim based on a questionable reading of statistics. The real homicide rate appears to have declined by only about 4 or 5% in six years by some measures.
  • MORE COMPLEX CONFLICT: Under López Obrador cartels have expanded control in much of the country and raked in money — not just from drugs but from extorting legal industries and migrant smuggling. They’ve also fought with more sophisticated tools like bomb-dropping drones and improvised explosive devices.
  • “AMLO’S” SHADOW: While Mexico’s next president will likely make history as being the country’s first woman leader, they will likely struggle to step out of the shadow of López Obrador’s larger-than-life image.
  • THE ECONOMY: López Obrador brags about Mexico’s strong exchange rate against the U.S. dollar; but the strong peso hurts Mexican exporters, and high domestic interest rates – whcih underpin the currency – tend to choke off economic growth.
  • PEMEX: Mexico’s state-owned oil company continues to totter under a mountain of debt, while López Obrador’s pet project _ a new oil refinery – has yet to function, and many of his other infrastructure projects are unfinished, over budget and unlikely to ever turn a profit.
  • DEBT: López Obrador also leaves his successor with a staggering budget deficit equivalent to 5.9% of GDP, as well as ongoing costs to fund his building and benefit programs, which will limit their room for manuever.
  • WATER AND ENERGY SHORTAGE: López Obrador’s favorite state-owned company, the Federal Electricity Commission, has proved both highly polluting and unreliable, especially in the face of drought and an extended heatwave. The whole country faces looming water and energy shortages.
  • THE ENVIRONMENT: Mexico has suffered from long-running drought, wildfires and soaring temperatures causing monkeys to drop dead from trees. Construction of López Obrador’s Maya Train has also fueled environmental concerns.

Globally, various left-wing movements are excited about her credentials as a climate scientists. For example Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn has said of her win, “This is a victory for the people of Mexico, for social justice and for the future of our planet.”

The Peso is tumbling Monday morning…

Sheinbaum told a crowd on Sunday: “We imagine a plural, diverse, and democratic Mexico. Our duty is and will always be to look after each and every Mexican, without distinction.”


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