Why Mexico’s historic President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum could see policy pushback in the U.S.

Political experts share insight on implications of unprecedented Mexico presidential election

President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum of Mexico is making history as the country’s first female and Jewish president-elect. However, female leadership isn’t new to the country.

The unprecedented step has several unknowns for the United States’ relationship with Mexico.

President-elect Sheinbaum received nearly 30 more percentage points than the runner up, according to the National Electoral Institute President. Regardless of which two top candidates were elected, Mexico voters were fated to elect their first female president.

“This was the largest turnout, the largest number of seats that were up for election,” Juan Sepulveda, a Trinity University professor of politics, told KSAT.

“Combining both the level of participation and her as the first female to win in Mexico and North America, it’s kind of a big deal,” said Sepulveda, who was also a member of former President Barack Obama’s administration.

According to the Associated Press, women make-up 44% of Mexico’s national Cabinet.

In the U.S. congress, that figure is 28%, according to Rutgers data.

However, Mexico faces other issues impacting women at a rate that the U.S. does not.

“I’m really eager to see what Sheinbaum will do as it relates to the issue of femicide,” said Betsy Smith, an expert on Latin American politics and teaches at St. Mary’s University. “[Femicide is] a really pressing issue that underlines a lot of the concerns that we are seeing in our politics in the U.S. in terms of immigration and security.”

Despite Sheinbaum’s apparent willingness to work with either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump, she could see pushback depending on how the November election plays out.

“I think you’ll see more of a willingness to work together if you see kind of a continuation for us if President Biden gets re-elected,” Sepulveda said.

“President Biden was already working with the current Mexican president on different issues. There’s no doubt that former president trump has some very different views than the current president of Mexico and the newly elected president,” Sepulveda said.

The Moreno party in Mexico is seen as a progressive party, Sepulveda said that will have an impact on former President Trump’s ability to see eye-to-eye with President-elect Sheinbaum.

While border security is a top priority for both U.S. presidential candidates, it ranks lower for Mexico as femicide and drug trafficking plague the country.

However, Sheinbaum’s ability to make progress both in Mexico and the U.S. depends on results yet to be finalized.

“The key for Sheinbaum to be able to make all of these really big changes like changing the constitution and amassing power in the executive and the presidency comes down to what the makeup in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate is,” Smith said.

President-elect Sheinbaum is expected to walk into a term filled with executive orders like President Biden’s June 4, 2024, executive order limiting immigration.

It’s an issue she may be forced to move up on her list of policy priorities.

See the graph below for border apprehensions data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

About the Authors

Zaria Oates is a news reporter for KSAT 12. She joined in June 2024 from Memphis, where she worked at ABC24. Oates graduated from Clemens High School in Schertz and earned a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. She's passionate about learning, traveling and storytelling.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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