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Former mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum won Mexico’s presidential elections Sunday by a landslide, a victory that makes her the country’s first female president, while also underscoring the continuation of the policies of her predecessor, outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, NPR reported.

With more than 80 percent of the votes counted, Mexico’s electoral agency estimated that the left-leaning Sheinbaum won more than 58 percent of the vote. Her closest rival, Xóchitl Gálvez secured a little more than 28 percent of the vote.

Sheinbaum said in her victory speech Sunday that her opponents had conceded. Her mentor, López Obrador, also congratulated her on social media.

The 61-year-old president-elect previously served under López Obrador as environmental minister. She had been a leading candidate in the polls for more than a year and her historic win is seen as a referendum on her predecessor’s presidency.

López Obrador can only serve one six-year term, according to Mexico’s constitution.

The populist president remains a popular but divisive figure in Mexico: He has been hailed for his social programs benefitting the country’s poor, but has been criticized for alleged democratic backsliding, undermining judicial independence and empowering the country’s military.

Many voters who voted for Sheinbaum cited support for the outgoing leader. However, those who voted for the opposition said they feared that López Obrador and his Morena party would return Mexico to the days when one party ruled the country, as happened for seven decades until 2000.

Sheinbaum has pledged to pursue her mentor’s policies, saying that the government will have “republican austerity, financial and fiscal discipline and autonomy,” adding that the country “will never have an authoritarian or oppressive government,” according to CNBC.

Even so, analysts said she will face a series of economic and security challenges when she is sworn in office on Oct. 1.

Violence continues to rage in the country: It came to the forefront during the election campaign after 37 candidates were killed ahead of Sunday’s vote, Reuters noted.

Mexico is still experiencing lagging economic recovery after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The International Monetary Fund predicts the nation of more than 132 million people will record GDP growth of 2.4 percent this year, compared with a 3.2 percent expansion in 2023.

The new government will also face fiscal and structural difficulties, including balancing investment plans, financing the popular welfare programs and handling the debt levels of Mexico’s state petroleum company, Pemex.

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