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Bloodshed mars final day of campaigning for Mexico’s election

WorldBloodshed mars final day of campaigning for Mexico’s election

Barring a major upset, a woman appears almost certain to be elected leader of the world’s most populous Spanish-speaking country when millions of Mexicans vote on Sunday.

Mexico presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum. Photo: AFP

“We’re going to make history,” ruling-party candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, who is leading in polls, told a cheering crowd at her closing campaign rally in Mexico City’s main square.

“I say to the young women, to all the women of Mexico – colleagues, friends, sisters, daughters, mothers and grandmothers – you are not alone,” the 61-year-old said.

Sheinbaum has pledged to continue outgoing left-wing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s social programmes and strategy of tackling crime at its roots – a controversial strategy that he calls “hugs not bullets”.

Opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez, also 61, promised a tougher approach to dealing with drug cartel-related violence at her closing rally in the northern city of Monterrey.

“You will have the bravest president, a president who does confront crime,” she said.

Galvez accused Lopez Obrador of implementing “a security strategy where hugs have been for criminals and bullets for citizens”.

Mexico presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez. Photo: AP

Criminal violence that has left more than 450,000 people dead since 2006 will be among the major challenges facing Mexico’s next leader, along with managing migration and delicate relations with the neighbouring United States.

Sheinbaum, a former Mexico City mayor and a scientist by training, is the clear front-runner in the presidential race with 53 per cent of voter support, according to a poll average from research firm Oraculus.

Galvez, a centre-right senator and businesswoman with Indigenous roots, is second with 36 per cent.

The only man running – long-shot centrist Jorge Alvarez Maynez – has 11 per cent.

Thousands of Sheinbaum’s supporters massed Wednesday to hear her speak, with many wearing purple – the colour of the ruling Morena party.

Sheinbaum owes much of her popularity to Lopez Obrador, widely known as AMLO – a close ally who has an approval rating of more than 60 per cent but is only allowed to serve one term.

Nearly 100 million people are registered to vote for president, members of Congress, several state governors and local officials, in the biggest-ever elections in the country of 129 million.

Around 27,000 soldiers and National Guard members will be deployed to reinforce security on election day.

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said Tuesday that 22 people running for local office had been murdered since September.

Some non-governmental organisations have reported an even higher number, including Data Civica, which has counted around 30 killings of candidates.

The PRI, one of the opposition coalition parties, accused the government of having “not made even the slightest effort to guarantee the safety of the candidates”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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