Mexico elects 1st female president following deadliest election campaign in country's modern history. Here's what to know.

Claudia Sheinbaum was elected the country's first female president after a bloody election campaign that saw 37 candidates assassinated.

Claudia Sheinbaum greets supporters at an election night rally in Mexico City.
Claudia Sheinbaum greets supporters at an election night rally in Mexico City early Monday. (Eduardo Verdugo/AP)
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Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as Mexico's first female president Sunday following the deadliest election campaign in the country's modern history.

More than three dozen candidates were assassinated, including a local government candidate in central Puebla state who was killed on Friday, increasing the total number of those killed to 37 ahead of Sunday’s vote, according to data from security consultancy Integralia obtained by Reuters.

Across the country, there were more than 20,000 positions to fill and 70,000 candidates vying for the spots.

One of the top issues in this year’s presidential contest was violent crime. Outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has had to account for a persistently high murder rate, with his opposition arguing for change.

Security analyst David Saucedo told the Associated Press that drug cartels will likely try to force voters to support their favored candidates.

Cartels are becoming increasingly dangerous — they’re now well-armed and politically influential. According to a report translated by NPR, more than 30,000 people are murdered each year in Mexico, compared to roughly 18,500 in the U.S. in 2023.

This Mexican election came during the same year as the U.S. presidential election, a concurrence that only happens every 12 years. It’s a tumultuous time for the relationship between the two countries. Mexico became the top trading partner for the U.S. last year, and both countries are trying to figure out how to deal with the worsening illegal drug trade.

A motorcyclist passes under a line of campaign signs in Xochimilco, Mexico, on May 31.
A motorcyclist passes under a line of campaign signs in Xochimilco, Mexico, on May 31. (Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images)

Another major issue for voters this year was Mexico’s migration policies on both its southern and northern borders. The National Migration Institute (INM) recorded a 77% increase in migrant arrivals from 2022 to 2023, according to CNN.

In December, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that would allow officials in that state to detain and report people suspected of entering the U.S. illegally. The law is currently blocked by a U.S. federal court, and the current Mexican government said it will only discuss immigration issues with federal officials. Both leading presidential candidates support Mexico's stance.

Jorge Huerta Cabrera, a candidate running for a council seat in the town of Izucar de Matamoros, was shot and killed at a political rally on Friday, according to the state prosecutor’s office. On Wednesday, mayoral candidate José Alfredo Cabrera Barrientos was gunned down during his closing campaign speech. He was among the 560 candidates and election officials given security guards by the government because of persistent threats.

Altogether, 37 candidates have been assassinated this election season — and that’s not counting failed assassination attempts, Reuters reported. Integralia counted 828 nonlethal attacks on political candidates during the current election campaign.

Sheinbaum, a member of the ruling party, was widely expected to win Sunday's vote and become Mexico's first female president — a major step for a country well-known for its “macho” culture. The 61-year-old is a former Mexico City mayor and climate scientist.

Sheinbaum has long been an ally of the incumbent president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won in a landslide in 2018. They share principles and even campaign slogans at times.

Her main opponent was former Senator Xóchitl Gálvez, who is also 61. Gálvez criticized incumbent López Obrador for his “hugs not bullets” policy of avoiding confrontation with drug cartels, who have gained control of large parts of Mexico.

FILE PHOTO: Combination picture of file photos shows presidential candidate of the ruling MORENA party Claudia Sheinbaum (L) and Xochitl Galvez, the presidential candidate of the 'Fuerza y Corazon por Mexico', an alliance of opposition parties, at the last presidential debate at Tlatelolco University Cultural Center in Mexico City, Mexico, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Quetzalli Nicte-Ha/File Photo
Claudia Sheinbaum, left, and Xochitl Galvez, at the last presidential debate in Mexico City on May 19. (Quetzalli Nicte-Ha/Reuters)

A third contender, 38-year-old Jorge Álvarez Máynez, trailed far behind the two women in the polls. The former deputy of the Congress of the Union gained international attention in May when a stage collapsed due to heavy winds at his campaign event in San Pedro Garza García, killing nine people and injuring at least 121.