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Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, candidate for the Presidency of Mexico by Sigamos Haciendo Historia coalition shows a electoral ballot before casting their vote at a polling booth during the 2024 Mexico s general election on June 2, 2024,

IMAGO/Jose Luis Torales

Mexico elects first woman president — will she bring change?

Claudia Sheinbaum made history on Sunday, with preliminary results showing she won roughly 60% of the vote to become the first woman elected Mexico’s president. Her victory was never really in doubt, given the support she enjoyed from outgoing and immensely popular President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. But that same popularity means it will be hard for Mexico’s first female president to emerge from her predecessor’s shadow.

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Supporters of MORENA presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum attend the closure of her presidential campaign at the Zocalo, the nation's main public square in Mexico City, on May 29, days ahead of the election on Sunday.

Omar Ornelas / El Paso Times / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters

Viewpoint: AMLO looms large in Mexico’s upcoming elections

Ahead of the June 2 elections, two accomplished women, the ruling party’s Claudia Sheinbaum and the opposition’s Xochitl Galvez, are vying for the distinction of becoming Mexico’s first female president. Meanwhile, criminal organizations trying to assert their influence in down-ballot races are threatening and killing a record number of candidates for local office.

Yet there is an even bigger presence shaping the outcome of these elections: outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO. Constitutionally limited to a single six-year term in office, the immensely popular leader appears to have positioned his leftist Morena party to dominate Mexican politics for another six years. We asked Eurasia Group expert Matias Gomez Leautaud to explain.

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Claudia Sheinbaum (c), candidate for the presidency of Mexico from the MORENA party, is visiting the facilities of the Tlatelolco Cultural Center in Mexico City to sign the National Commitment for Peace, organized by the Society of Jesus in Mexico and the Mexican Episcopate Conference, on March 11, 2024.

Photo by Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto via Reuters

Mexico’s presidential front-runner and the politics of violent crime

In June 2022, a man fleeing a drug gang took refuge inside a church in a remote region of northern Mexico. Armed men followed him into the church, killed him, and murdered two Jesuit priests who tried to intervene.

That event has since strained relations between the Catholic Church and President Andres Manuel López Obrador, whom church leaders blame for failing to contain the country’s still-high rates of violent crime.

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Outgoing Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum speaks as she registers as a for the ruling MORENA party's 2024 presidential election primary.

REUTERS/Henry Romero

Is she Mexico’s next president?

A year from now, Claudia Sheinbaum is likely to be Mexico's next president. That’s partly because she’s widely considered the preferred choice of the still-remarkably popular current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has a 59% approval rating after four years in office and has unified leadership within his Morena party.

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Mario Delgado, president of Mexico's ruling Morena party, during a press conference to unveil the four presidential candidates in Mexico City.

Gerardo Vieyra via Reuters Connect

AMLO wants a popular successor

Mexico's ruling Morena Party on Sunday decided to pick its 2024 presidential nominee in a unique way.

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Delfina Gomez, candidate for governor of the State of Mexico for the Morena party, celebrates after preliminary election results are announced in Toluca.

REUTERS/Henry Romero

AMLO's party wins big Mexican state, looking good for 2024

Mexico's ruling Morena Party on Sunday won a bellwether election in the State of Mexico. This is good news for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO.

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