Mexico’s governing party has named former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum as its candidate for the 2024 presidential elections, putting her in pole position to become the country’s first woman leader.
Mexico will go to the polls on June 2 to elect a successor to popular incumbent Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), who is barred by the constitution from serving a second six-year term.
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Sheinbaum, 61, was chosen on Wednesday following a series of surveys of members of the governing Morena party.
The party’s national council president, Alfonso Durazo, said Sheinbaum beat former Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, her closest rival, by double figures in five party surveys.
“Today the Mexican people decided,” a smiling Sheinbaum told supporters to shouts of “president, president, president” at a news conference where she was declared the candidate.
“We will win in 2024,” she said, dressed in her party’s signature purple.
Sheinbaum is a close ally of President Lopez Obrador and Morena controls 22 of Mexico’s 32 states, giving her a distinct advantage. Last week, a broad opposition coalition selected female lawmaker Xochitl Galvez as its candidate.
Hours before Wednesday’s announcement, Ebrard complained of irregularities in the process and said it should be redone, accusing his party of increasingly resembling the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that ruled Mexico for 71 years, famously allowing each president to select his successor.
He was not in the room as Sheinbaum was hailed as the winner, telling a Mexican radio station he and his team had been removed from the event in Mexico City’s World Trade Center, a towering building in an upscale district of the capital.
He said he would decide on Monday how to proceed.
‘Kicking the system’
Trained as an environmental scientist, Sheinbaum sits solidly on the left of the ideological spectrum and represents the continuation of AMLO’s social agenda.
She has frequently echoed his condemnation of the neoliberal economic policies of earlier Mexican presidents, blaming them for the country’s gaping inequality and high levels of violence.
Galvez, meanwhile, is representing the Broad Front for Mexico, a coalition of the conservative National Action Party, the small progressive Democratic Revolution Party, and the PRI.
Galvez caucuses with the National Action Party in the Senate but is not a member.
Strategist Antonio Sola, who worked on the 2006 campaign of former President Felipe Calderon and later with one of the parties that helped Lopez Obrador win, thinks Galvez’s outsider image and natural ease with voters could help her.
With much of the world experiencing the end of a political era dominated by traditional candidates, the emerging figures are those who are “kicking the system,” he said.