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Three challenges facing the next Mexican president

Mexico’s newly elected president, the first woman to hold the office, faces a long list of challenges, including persistent gang violence, a deeply divided country and struggling social programs.

Financial distress and the long shadow of his outgoing mentor, President Andres Manuel López Obrador.

But for some analysts, it is mainly about three things: money, dialogue and the results of the US presidential election.

Claudia Sheinbaum, who begins her six-year presidential term on October 1, has four months to define her administration’s agenda. Meanwhile, López Obrador is expected to continue giving his daily morning press briefings, while trying to cement his legacy.

Economic challenge

The biggest economic challenge will be whether Sheinbaum will have the money to continue his predecessor’s popular social programs, given that the government is running a large deficit, about 6 percent, which the Treasury Department has committed to To reduce.

“There must be financial reform,” said Isidro Morales, an expert on economics and international relations, warning that if that did not happen, while citing Mexico’s declining oil revenues as one of the problems, “Claudia would have her hands tied.”

Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex is the most ardent symbol of López Obrador’s nationalism, but it continues to lose money. Oil has also become far from the main source of income that it once was. Still, it’s a red line for Sheinbaum who, despite being a climate scientist interested in transitioning to clean energy, ended her campaign last week to massive signs of support from oil industry workers.

Immigration policies

The presidential transition period in Mexico is also at the heart of the US presidential election campaign.

“The most important elections in Mexico will take place on November 5,” said Carlos Pérez Ricarte, a professor at the Mexican public research center CIDE, referring to the U.S. presidential elections.

He explained that the re-election of President Joe Biden or the return to power of former President Donald Trump will be “the real variable that changes the scenarios.” He added that the outcome would affect not only security, trade and immigration policies, but also many internal decisions regarding the role of the Mexican military.

Sheinbaum studied in the United States, speaks English and understands the politics of that country, which might suggest that there would be more understanding with Washington, but no one can control the Trump factor.

On immigration and security, Mexico’s new president is left with existing policies that have intermittently slowed migration to the U.S. border and failed to significantly reduce ongoing violence in Mexico.

Three challenges facing the next Mexican president


To deal with growing violence in Mexico, analysts say the country needs to strengthen its civil police and prosecutors. Instead, López Obrador chose to militarize the country, giving the armed forces unprecedented authority in a range of civilian areas – from internal security to construction – with risks to human rights and accountability.

It remains unclear exactly what Sheinbaum wants from the military, what she can change, or what kind of pressure the military can exert on her. Politically, the majority enjoyed by his party, Morena, in Congress could be a double-edged sword. For the 40% of voters who did not support her, this will be considered dangerous, because if the initial results are confirmed, she could have enough legislators to amend the constitution. Lopez Obrador has presented a series of controversial constitutional proposals, including its abolition. Institutions that provide control over executive power and judges are subject to general elections.

Pérez Ricarte said it would be important for Mexico to have a strong government that undoubtedly defends the separation of powers.

However, political scientist Luis Miguel Pérez Juarez considers that this strong victory gives Sheinbaum “enormous power” for independent action, including in relation to the party created by López Obrador.

“You won’t have to talk to anyone,” he added.

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