Light Wave


Mexico’s first female, Jewish president? Meet Claudia Sheinbaum

By Jake Beardslee · September 23, 2023

In brief…

  • Claudia Sheinbaum is the frontrunner for Mexico's 2024 presidential election.
  • The leftist candidate would be Mexico's first female and first Jewish president if elected.
  • Sheinbaum's main opponent is center-right candidate Xóchitl Gálvez.
  • Sheinbaum has faced antisemitic attacks over her Jewish background, including from former Mexican President Vincente Fox.
  • Mexico's business-oriented Jewish community is expected to support conservative candidate Gálvez.
Poll leader Claudia Sheinbaum (above) could be Mexico's first female and first Jewish president in 2024.  Secretaría de Cultura Ciudad de México from México/Wikimedia

Mexico is headed towards a historic presidential election in 2024, with the two leading candidates both poised to make history if elected.

Current frontrunner, former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, recently nailed down the nomination of the leftist Morena party. If Sheinbaum wins, she will become Mexico’s first female president as well as its first Jewish president.

The daughter of two accomplished scientists, Sheinbaum earned her PhD in physics. In 2007, she was a member of the environmental organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. VP Al Gore. As mayor of Mexico City, Sheinbaum earned praise for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and for dramatically reducing the city’s notoriously high murder rate. Her mayoral tenure, however, was also marked by controversies related to infrastructure failures.

Sheinbaum’s chief opponent, Senator Xóchitl Gálvez, represents the center-right opposition bloc. Gálvez founded two tech companies before entering politics. While she trails Sheinbaum in early polls, she is considered a formidable challenger.

The race has already seen attacks on Sheinbaum’s Jewish background, which she has countered by emphasizing her Mexican identity. While religion is not usually an issue in Mexican politics, subtle forms of antisemitism have emerged in the nation’s recent political discourse.

Former President Vicente Fox referred to Sheinbaum as a “Bulgarian Jew,” adding that “the only Mexican is Xóchitl.”

“The average Mexican may not care about Sheinbaum’s religion, but the average Mexican Jew is probably not voting for her,” The Jerusalem Post wrote. “Like most other Latin-American Jewish communities, the majority of Mexico’s Jews lean conservative politically. Sheinbaum’s platform is not radically left-wing when compared to other leftist leaders in Latin America, but Gálvez, an accomplished tech entrepreneur, may be more appealing to conservative-leaning Jews, many of whom are business owners.”