5 Things to Know About Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico’s First Female President

5 Things to Know About Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico’s First Female President
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Mexico witnessed a historic milestone on Sunday when Claudia Sheinbaum overwhelmingly won the presidential election, making her the first woman and person of Jewish descent to assume the role.

The former Mexico City mayor and Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist captured between 58.3% and 60.7% of the overall vote, beating out the National Action Party’s Xóchitl Gálvez, and the Citizens’ Movement’s Jorge Álvarez Máynez by a landslide, per CNN.

“I will become the first woman president of Mexico,” Sheinbaum told reporters on Sunday shortly after electoral authorities announced that she had gained an irreversible lead, according to CBS. “I don’t make it alone. We’ve all made it, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.”

The 61-year-old’s victory also marks a triumph for the ruling left-of-center Morena party and outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had enthusiastically named Sheinbaum as his favored successor.

Ahead, we’ve laid out five major things to know about Mexico’s president-elect.

|1| She is the protégée of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Sheinbaum’s presidential bid rode the coattails of the incumbent’s massive popularity, with López Obrador—known more colloquially as AMLO—leaving office in September with a reported 60% approval rating. She has largely promised to continue down the path of her mentor, championing the social welfare programs that some view as responsible for reducing the country’s rate of poverty during his six-year tenure. Among these include a robust pension plan for seniors, scholarships for low-income students, and free fertilizers for small farm owners.

López Obrador celebrated Sheinbaum’s win during a news conference on Monday. “I feel very happy. We are finishing our term, I am going to retire, and with great satisfaction I will be able to say when I hand the flag over to Claudia: ‘mission accomplished,’” he told reporters, according to the El Paso Times.

mexican president andres manuel lopez obrador r raises the hand of mexico citys new governor claudia sheinbaum l, after her swearing in ceremony at the local congress in mexico city on december 05, 2018 sheinbaum is the first woman to be elected governor of mexico city photo by alfredo estrella afp photo credit should read alfredo estrellaafp via getty images
Claudia Sheinbaum with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.ALFREDO ESTRELLA - Getty Images

|2| She will face many hot-button issues left over from the previous administration.

Upon taking office, Sheinbaum will inherit a host of concerns left in the current administration’s wake. One of the most pressing is the persisting violence inflicted by Mexico’s various cartels—a problem that critics say the López Obrador administration has failed to adequately address.

There is also the urgent matter of the migrant crisis, with many desperate to escape conflict and seek asylum in the U.S. fleeing from Mexico’s northern border. With the U.S. facing its own presidential election this November, Sheinbaum will likely be working closely with whoever wins the vote for the Oval Office.

|3| She is a climate scientist.

Prior to her campaign, Sheinbaum was most well-known for serving as the mayor of Mexico City from 2018 to 2023, co-authoring a Nobel Peace Prize-winning report on the mitigation of climate change, and working as López Obrador’s environment secretary.

A scientist by trade, she earned her doctorate in energy engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Indeed, she has spent much of her campaign distinguishing herself from her opponents by focusing on her science-driven background—even as her predecessor faces backlash for directives that were deeply unpopular with those in the science community, such as policies that cut research funding and development projects that threatened the environment.

While she may have a close alliance with López Obrador, Sheinbaum has promised voters that she will carve out her own path ahead, too. This includes a robust climate platform that aims to have 50% of Mexico’s electricity supplied via zero-carbon sources by the end of her term, as well as investing a whopping $13.6 billion into renewable energy and building up the nation’s mass transit systems, according to Bloomberg.

mexico's presidential candidate for morena party claudia sheinbaum celebrates following the results of the general election at zocalo square in mexico city, on june 3, 2024 claudia sheinbaum was set to be elected mexico's first woman president, exit polls showed, a milestone in a country with a history of gender based violence photo by carl de souza afp
CARL DE SOUZA - Getty Images

|4| She is the daughter of Lithuanian and Bulgarian Jewish migrants.

While Sheinbaum ascends to the Mexican presidency in a country that is predominantly Catholic, she herself has a secular relationship to her heritage.

“Of course I know where I come from, but my parents were atheists,” she previously told the New York Times in 2020. “I never belonged to the Jewish community. We grew up a little removed from that.”

According to the Times, Sheinbaum’s parents are both the children of Jews who fled eastern Europe amid the rise of the Holocaust. Her father, Carlos Sheinbaum Yoselevitz, descends from Askhenazi Jewish parents who left Lithuania in the early 20th century. Her mother, Annie Pardo Cemo, comes from Sephardic Jewish parents who previously lived in Bulgaria prior to the Holocaust.

Sheinbaum herself was born in Mexico City.

|5| She wants to reconcile Mexico's climate of political polarization.

As political divisions continue to roil the country, Sheinbaum used her first speech as the president-elect to bridge the gap.

“Even though the majority of the people backed our project, our duty will always be to look out for each and every Mexican, without distinctions,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “Even though there are many Mexicans who don’t fully agree with our project, we must walk in peace and harmony.”

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