Politics & News

Violent Election: Mexico Set to Have First Female President

Mexicans are voting on Sunday to choose their new president, in an election that will likely give Mexico its first female president.

Mexico’s election has become the most violent in the country’s modern history, after the assassination of 38 candidates during the campaign and the withdrawal of hundreds as criminal gangs strive to install friendly leaders.

Female Frontrunner

Two female candidates are leading the polls: The former mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum, and the opposition former senator and tech entrepreneur Xóchitl Gálvez. Both are far ahead in the polls of the only male candidate, Jorge Álvarez Máynez.

The frontrunner candidate, Sheinbaum, is a 61-year-old Jewish climate scientist. She has vowed to advance the policies of the outgoing president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, founder of the ruling Morena Party.

Violent Election: Mexico Set to Have First Female President
Claudia Sheinbaum

“We already won the campaign, we already won the debates and now we have to win the election to consolidate the continuity of the national project,” Sheinbaum said.

Closest Rival

Sheinbaum’s closest challenger, Xóchitl Gálvez, is an opposition candidate with indigenous roots. She is running with a coalition of major opposition parties comprised of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the right-wing PAN, and the leftist PRD party.

Gálvez has pledged to escalate the fight against the drug cartels and go after criminals more aggressively. However, polls put Claudia Sheinbaum 20 points ahead of her closest rival Xóchitl Gálvez. Either women’s victory will mark a groundbreaking event, as she will be the first female leader in Mexico.

Violent Election: Mexico Set to Have First Female President
Xóchitl Gálvez

Huge Challenges

Mexico’s upcoming president will have to address daunting challenges. According to Reuters, organized crime violence has contributed to the murder of more than 185,000 people since Lopez Obrador took office in December 2018.

Moreover, Mexico has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America and hundreds of organized crime groups. These groups have increased their control of swaths of Mexico, especially in rural areas and along the country’s border with the US. They have diversified activities, from drug to gun and migrant trafficking. They have also penetrated local businesses and supply chains.

In addition to electricity and water shortages, the spread of violence and criminal gangs hinders Mexico’s efforts to attract manufacturers to relocate their industrial facilities to the country as part of the nearshoring trend.

Economic Worries

Moreover, the winner will have to grapple with what to do with Pemex, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company which has suffered a decline in production for two decades and is drowning in debt.

Although both candidates promised to expand welfare programs, this could be another challenge as the country faces a major deficit this year and the central bank forecasts a sluggish GDP growth of just 1.5% next year.

Violent Election: Mexico Set to Have First Female President
Mexico’s outgoing president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

Migration Crisis

The new president will have to go through a series of negotiations with the US over the massive influx of migrants crossing Mexico to enter the US. They will also negotiate security cooperation over drug trafficking, as the US struggles with a severe fentanyl crisis.

If Donald Trump won the US presidential election in November, Mexican officials expect these negotiations could become more difficult. In case of his return to the White House, Trump has promised to increase tariffs 100% on Chinese cars made in Mexico and said he would deploy special forces to fight the cartels.

Biggest Election

About 100 million Mexicans are eligible to vote in Sunday’s election, with about 20,000 other posts up for grabs in Mexico’s biggest election ever.

Voters will elect capital city’s mayor, eight governorships, both chambers of Congress, and an array of other regional and local posts.

Polls suggest that Morena is unlikely to secure a two-thirds majority in Congress, which would have enabled Sheinbaum’s party to pass constitutional reforms that eluded her predecessor.

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