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

Claudia Sheinbaum is on track to solidify her groundbreaking victory as Mexico’s first female president with a supermajority in congress that would enable her party to push through legislation and budgets unopposed – potentially even altering the constitution without compromise. Sheinbaum, a 61-year-old climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, clinched the presidency with 59.5% of the vote, according to a rapid sample count by Mexico’s electoral authority.

During her campaign, Sheinbaum positioned herself as a candidate for continuity, pledging to uphold the policies of her populist predecessor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as Amlo, who established the Morena party in 2014 and connected with voters disenchanted with democracy. While López Obrador was constitutionally barred from seeking reelection, he handpicked Sheinbaum as his successor – and she seems to have garnered 5 million more votes than he did six years ago.

With a constitutional amendment promoting gender parity in all elected positions and government appointments, women now occupy half the seats in Mexico’s congress, almost half the cabinet positions, and a third of the governorships. This rise in female leadership raises hopes for tangible policy changes. Despite the Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling that banning abortion was unconstitutional, progress towards safe and accessible abortion at the state level has been slow, and gender-based violence remains a pressing issue.

Sheinbaum’s victory marks her as the first woman to lead a North American country, having triumphed over her main rival, Xóchitl Gálvez, who secured 27.6% of the vote as the opposition coalition candidate. Additionally, more than 20,000 positions were up for grabs in Mexico’s largest-ever election.

Morena and its allies are positioned to attain a two-thirds supermajority in one or both houses of congress, granting them the ability to amend the constitution at will. López Obrador has proposed a broad spectrum of reforms, from pension reform to outlawing animal abuse and banning fracking and vape sales. However, the most contentious reform would entail popular elections for supreme court justices, potentially placing the court under Morena’s influence.

Sheinbaum is slated to assume office on October 1 with a substantial mandate but faces significant challenges, including ongoing violence, corruption, and impunity. She will need to address these issues, inherited from Amlo’s tenure, as criminal organizations vie for control of territories and local enterprises.

As Sheinbaum prepares to assume power, the US is gearing up for its own election, setting the stage for a showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. The intertwined economies of the two countries, with Mexico being the US’s top trading partner, underscore the significance of the US-Mexico relationship. Mexico’s role as a source of fentanyl and a transit nation for migrants bound for the US further emphasizes its importance in the upcoming US election.

In her victory speech, Sheinbaum emphasized that the US-Mexico relationship would be built on mutual respect, pledging to advocate for Mexicans residing on the other side of the border. Biden expressed his eagerness to collaborate with President-elect Sheinbaum, highlighting the enduring bonds between the two nations.