President López Obrador’s successor achieves a landslide victory and dominates Congress. The capital also gives a broad victory to the left.

Mexico already has its president. Now yes, for the first time in 200 years of independence. Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo (Mexico City, 61 years old) is the first woman to win a presidential election and did so in a historic journey that resulted in a landslide victory for the governing party. With a turnout close to 61%, the president’s successor received between 58.6% and 60.7% of the votes, according to the quick count, a mathematical extrapolation of samples collected across the country. The percentage obtained surpasses the 53% achieved by Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2018, a notable feat for a candidate with less political charisma, but who benefits from the support of the popular leader. Many people questioned whether a sexist country like Mexico was prepared to have a female president. The polls gave a resounding yes.

As the polls predicted, the president’s successor won with more than 30 points difference in relation to her opponent, Xóchitl Gálvez, who obtained between 26% and 28%. The candidate of the opposition coalition, formed by the two traditional parties, PRI and PAN, together with the minority PRD, was unable to overcome the tsunami of support that decided to continue the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and congratulated Sheinbaum after the first official results. She classified the election as a “historical milestone”, as it had a woman as president for the first time, but warned that she will continue to defend her policies “by taking to the streets as many times as necessary”. The third candidate, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who ran for Movimento Ciudadano, a loosely centered party, received around 10% of the votes.

The capital also gave a broad victory to the left-wing candidate, Clara Brugada, who obtained between 9 and 12 points more than her rival, the panist Santiago Taboada. The election in Mexico City presented a more uncertain result, even between the two. It wasn’t the case. The great advantage between one and the other leaves no room for challenges or courts, as Taboada promised in the case of a difference of less than five points.

“The Mexicans recognized the results, convictions and will of our project,” said Sheinbaum after midnight, in his first intervention after learning of victory. “Mexico has demonstrated itself to be a democratic country with peaceful elections,” he added. He then thanked the calls received from his opponents recognizing his victory. And she celebrated being the first woman to reach the presidency: “I didn’t arrive alone, we all arrived”, she said. She promised to govern for all citizens: “We will walk in peace and harmony for a more prosperous and fair country.”

The victory was overwhelming. Sheinbaum celebrated the qualified majority achieved together with his allies from the Green Party and the Labor Party in Congress and “more likely in the Senate”, which will allow him to have almost absolute power. Not just her. President López Obrador will have one month, between the installation of Congress — on September 1st — and the succession — on October 1st — to approve the pending reforms, which require two-thirds of the Chambers, as they involve constitutional reforms.

It was López Obrador himself who was the first to congratulate his successor. “With affection and respect”, he said in a video in which he celebrated the victory of Sheinbaum, “a triumphant by a wide margin, the first president of Mexico” and possibly, he added, the person who received the most votes in the entire history of the country in a presidential election . “I congratulate all Mexicans, the name of Mexico is on high,” he said. Before that (the results were known close to midnight), congratulations had already begun to arrive from representatives of other Latin American countries, such as Gustavo Petro, from Colombia; Honduras, Guatemala, as well as the president of the OAS, Luis Almagro. The President of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, also congratulated Sheinbaum.

The PRI became the fourth political force, a collapse that has been unfolding for some time, election after election. What was once the single party in Mexico is disintegrating little by little, although it resists in the face of continuous predictions of its complete disappearance. In recent months, many of its senators have abandoned its ranks, and during the campaign weeks there have also been some significant defections to other parties. The Greens, as poorly regarded as the PRI itself among citizens, nevertheless performed better in Congress. It was hoped that the Movimento Ciudadano would be able to take its meager forces from the PRI, but this did not happen. The “old politics”, as this party called it, resists.

These elections also subjected the governments of eight states and the assemblies of 32 states to citizen choice, as well as the composition of federal legislative chambers and city halls across the country, totaling more than 20,000 public positions submitted to the polls. Out of a census of 98 million voters, 15 million voted for the first time.

Sheinbaum, a university activist in her youth, PhD in Physics and head of government in the capital before running for president, won a second term for the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), a party she helped found. With a total of eight homicides between the day before and the day of the election and after a campaign in which 37 candidates were murdered, Mexicans spoke clearly. The years in which the PRI and PAN alternated in power are behind us. Sheinbaum will, in fact, be the first person to reach the presidency without having a priist or panist background. Now there is a new party that is here to stay and change Mexico’s political landscape.

The popularity of the president, who maintains a 60% rating at the end of his term, boosted the results in favor of his candidate, who in recent months has also been gaining favor among the population, traveling from end to end across the country. The end of his campaign, in the capital’s Zócalo last Wednesday, was a celebration for followers who were already anticipating the result. The opposition presented these elections as a plebiscite against López Obrador, a dangerous strategy that proved to be flawed. Xóchitl Gálvez began his campaign with moderation, ensuring that he did not intend to destroy what had been done before, but would maintain what worked and improve what was problematic. In recent weeks, however, the electoral message has transformed into a kind of political apocalypse, in which Mexico is at risk of losing democracy and ruining institutions, something that was not perceived on the streets and that citizens did not want to validate. . Quite the contrary, they chose to continue for another six years a left-wing administration that maintains its motto: “For the good of all, the poor first”.

Millions of families have improved their economic conditions over the last six years with increases in retirement pensions, scholarships for students, assistance for people with disabilities and a minimum wage that has increased, on average, 20% per year, well above the CPI, something never seen before in previous administrations. In a country still heavily impoverished, this connection with the government resulted in a new mandate of the same sign. The economic bonanza in which Mexico finds itself has overcome concerns about violence in the country, which records more than 30,000 murders annually. In February, a historic record in foreign direct investment was announced, which exceeded 36 billion in 2023. Remittances sent by migrants to their families broke consecutive records, supporting entire villages. Overtaking China, Mexico became the main exporter to the United States, its major trading partner. The relocation of companies from the Asian giant to Mexican territory also predicts a flood of jobs.

López Obrador’s undisputed victory in 2018, with 53% of the votes, left the opposition shaken for much of the six-year period, without leadership and without proposals. Only in July last year, a smiling and lively woman, wearing colorful huipiles and riding a bicycle, renewed the spirit and hopes of the traditional parties, who removed their discredited leaders to make way for this businesswoman from humble origins, who became an engineer . PAN and PRI, long-time enemies, were forced to renew their alliance and share a candidate to try to gain strength in these elections. But the union was not strength; on the contrary, Gálvez had to fight against the interference of the parties and the public blunders of their leaders. She, who was proud of her ideological independence, needed them to win votes in the territories and, at the same time, repudiated them when they made her campaign difficult. The first of the three presidential debates left a bitter taste for the candidate, who even said that between one and the other they were taking her breath away. She knocked on the table: “I’m going to be myself and if they want me as I am, let’s go ahead.” This highlighted the difficulties of rowing with so many different parties in the same boat. He fought until the end, but it was not possible.

Mexico was waiting for a president, the polls just needed to define the name, and now they have done so. Claudia Sheinbaum will take charge of the country from October 1st, when López Obrador will hand her the presidential sash.

By Carmen Morán Breña, from Mexico, for El País


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