Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is hoping to become her country's first female president

Election preparations could pave the way for Mexico’s first female president

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Scheinbaum hopes to become her country’s first female president – Copyright POOL/AFP Ian Vogler

Jean Arc

Contenders are preparing to race for the presidency of Mexico, Andres Manuel López Obrador, and Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is vying to become the country’s first female head of state.

The presidential election is not until July 2024, and the election campaign has not officially started yet.

But there’s already a “like” war on social media between Scheinbaum – a scientist by training and a close ally of López Obrador – and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

Both hope to be candidates for the presidency of Morena’s ruling party, which is holding its annual convention this weekend.

“A woman can be an astronaut, a lawyer, a police officer, a deputy governor and a president of the republic,” Sheinbaum said during a recent trip outside the capital to greet supporters.

Party members will decide on Morena’s nominee in 2023, and opinion polls show that their choice will be the board’s favorite for another six years.

In the meantime, anyone can ask the 62-year-old Ebrard questions on WhatsApp after he posted a contact number, or watch TikTok videos of him declaring himself a fan of K-pop superstars BTS.

People can also watch the 60-year-old Sheinbaum on TikTok playing with a yo-yo or laughingly admitting she was a class talker, in contrast to her serious adult image.

An opinion poll released in late August by Enkoll showed that 35 percent of respondents favored Sheinbaum as Morena’s presidential candidate, to 26 percent for Ebrard.

And 82 percent said they would vote for a female president, marking a sea change in a country with a long history of machismo.

But another poll published Sept. 6 by Poligrama found Sheinbaum and Ebrard almost head to head.

– “Steady” Lopez Obrador –

Although López Obrador has said he will support anyone who wins, he often shows support for Sheinbaum, whom he describes as “incorruptible” and a man of “conviction”.

Ebrard, himself a former mayor of Mexico City, “governs and operates efficiently” but is not as close to López Obrador as President Sheinbaum’s “loyal” confidant, analyst Pablo Majlouf said.

Weak opposition means López Obrador is the big winner in the early campaign – with an approval rating of over 60 percent – as only his candidates are in the race so far, political analyst Carlos Bravo Rejidor said.

Sheinbaum, who is of Lithuanian-Bulgarian descent, “feels a strong desire to continue[López Obrador’s reform agenda]and become the first female president in Mexican history,” a source close to her told AFP.

Hébrard, who has French roots, is trying to raise his profile with trips around the country in addition to his international program, which includes attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London on Monday.

Videos posted on social media show a senior Mexican diplomat harvesting agave from a tequila plantation and performing traditional dances in Bolivia.

This is not Ebrard’s first attempt at the presidency.

He was defeated by López Obrador in Morena’s internal vote for the party’s nominee in the 2018 presidential election.

The Mexican constitution limits the presidential term to one six-year term, and the incumbent has promised not to run again.

Some analysts believe López Obrador will be looking to assert his influence after 2024 in order to defend his reform agenda.

He will be better at wielding power from the outside “if he is followed by a weak president or a president who needs support,” Bravo Rehidor said.

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