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Sunday, June 23, 2024
Sunday June 23, 2024
Sunday June 23, 2024

Mexico’s Claudia Sheinbaum poised to secure Supermajority after historic win

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Sheinbaum’s Morena party is likely to dominate Congress, enabling potential constitutional changes without opposition

Claudia Sheinbaum, leader of Mexico’s Morena party, stands on the brink of a historic victory as the country’s first female president. With a supermajority in Congress, her party could pass legislation and budgets unopposed, even potentially amending the constitution without compromise.

Sheinbaum, a 61-year-old climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, won the presidency with 59.5% of the vote, according to a rapid sample count by Mexico’s electoral authority. Throughout her campaign, Sheinbaum portrayed herself as a continuity candidate, promising to uphold the policies of her populist predecessor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Amlo), who founded the Morena party in 2014 and built a strong bond with voters disillusioned with the democratic status quo.

During her victory speech on Sunday, Sheinbaum emphasized the historic nature of her win. “In the 200 years of the republic, I will become the first woman president of Mexico,” she declared to loud cheers of “President, president.” This momentous victory was partly enabled by a constitutional amendment aimed at achieving gender parity in elected offices and government appointments. Women now hold half the seats in Mexico’s congress, nearly half the cabinet positions, and one-third of the governorships.

Activists hope this increased female representation will lead to significant policy changes. Despite a 2023 Supreme Court ruling that prohibiting abortion is unconstitutional, access to safe and legal abortions remains inconsistent across Mexican states. Gender-based violence continues to rise, presenting another critical challenge for Sheinbaum’s administration.

Sheinbaum’s main opponent, Xóchitl Gálvez, garnered 27.6% of the vote as the candidate for the opposition coalition. Gálvez struggled to overcome the unpopularity of the traditional parties backing her, which many voters perceived as serving elite interests. 

In addition to the presidency, more than 20,000 other positions were contested in Mexico’s largest-ever election. Morena and its allies are projected to secure a two-thirds supermajority in one or possibly both houses of Congress, enabling them to amend the constitution without requiring support from other parties. Amlo has already outlined a broad set of reforms, including pension reform, outlawing animal abuse, banning fracking, and prohibiting the sale of vapes. However, the most controversial proposal involves electing Supreme Court justices by popular vote, a move that could bring the judiciary under Morena’s influence.

On Monday, Amlo expressed his willingness to defer to Sheinbaum but emphasized the need for judicial reform. “There has to be a judiciary that represents the Mexican people, that is incorruptible,” he stated, adding, “because if not, we will not move forward.”

Morena’s strong performance extended to gubernatorial races, with the party holding six of the nine contested states and capturing Yucatán, bringing their total to 24 out of Mexico’s 32 federal entities. This dominance marks the most significant concentration of political power by any party since Mexico’s transition to democracy in 2000. However, the peso’s decline against the dollar reflects investor concerns over Morena’s projected hegemony.

Sheinbaum will assume office on October 1 with a substantial mandate but significant challenges. Violence, corruption, and impunity remain pervasive as organized crime groups maintain their grip on territory and local businesses. Political analyst Blanca Heredia noted that Sheinbaum inherits a legacy of security issues and public discontent. “Security, and the wake of victims, of pain, of anger, sown through great parts of the country – these are the hardest parts of the legacy that [Amlo] leaves Claudia,” Heredia stated.

Amlo significantly expanded the military’s role in domestic security and infrastructure projects. Managing the military’s extensive responsibilities will require careful navigation from Sheinbaum. “Managing the army will require great intelligence from Sheinbaum because they have been given many responsibilities, many resources,” said Heredia.

Political analyst Vanessa Romero emphasized the need for national reconciliation. “These elections were particularly incendiary as if there were two Mexicos and they don’t talk to each other,” she observed.

As Sheinbaum prepares to take office, the US is also gearing up for its election, potentially impacting Mexico. The countries’ economies are deeply interconnected, with Mexico being the top trading partner of the US. Additionally, Mexico is a primary source of fentanyl entering the US and a transit country for US-bound migrants, making it a crucial player in the US election. President Joe Biden expressed his eagerness to collaborate with Sheinbaum, emphasizing the enduring bonds between the two nations.

In her victory speech, Sheinbaum highlighted the importance of mutual respect in the US-Mexico relationship and pledged to defend the rights of Mexicans across the border. “We will always defend Mexicans who are on the other side of the border,” she affirmed.

Claudia Sheinbaum’s historic victory as Mexico’s first female president marks a significant political shift. W

Analysis:

Morena poised to secure a supermajority in Congress, the potential for sweeping legislative and constitutional changes looms large. This victory is not just a personal triumph for Sheinbaum but a testament to the evolving political landscape in Mexico, where gender parity and populist policies have gained substantial ground.

Politically, Sheinbaum’s administration will likely continue the populist agenda of Amlo, focusing on social reforms and anti-corruption measures. However, balancing these initiatives with the need for judicial independence and democratic integrity will be challenging. The proposal to elect Supreme Court justices by popular vote exemplifies the tension between populist reforms and maintaining a checks-and-balances system.

Sociologically, Sheinbaum’s presidency could herald significant changes in gender policies. With increased female representation in government, issues such as gender-based violence and reproductive rights may receive more attention. The challenge will be translating legal victories, like the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, into practical and accessible services across all states.

Economically, the impact of Morena’s dominance could be profound. Investor concerns reflected in the peso’s decline highlight the uncertainty surrounding potential economic reforms. However, Morena’s focus on social welfare and infrastructure could stimulate economic growth if managed effectively. The administration’s ability to balance progressive policies with economic stability will be crucial.

Locally, Sheinbaum faces the daunting task of addressing violence and organized crime, which have plagued Mexico for decades. Strengthening security without over-relying on the military will require innovative approaches and cooperation with local authorities. Her success in this area will significantly impact her administration’s overall effectiveness and public perception.

From a gender perspective, Sheinbaum’s victory symbolizes a breakthrough for women’s political participation in Mexico. Her leadership could inspire further advancements in gender equality and women’s rights. However, translating symbolic victories into substantive policy changes will require persistent effort and political will.

In conclusion, Claudia Sheinbaum’s presidency represents a pivotal moment for Mexico. Her ability to navigate the complex political, economic, and social challenges will determine the success of her administration and the future trajectory of the country. With a strong mandate and a supermajority in Congress, Sheinbaum has the opportunity to implement significant reforms, but she must do so with careful consideration of the diverse and often conflicting interests at play

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