There is considerable anticipation that the country would end up getting a woman President for the first time. She is 61-year-old Claudia Sheinbaum, a protégé of Mexico’s current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the head of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), and she was also the former Mayor of Mexico City.

Obrador, usually referred to as AMLO, himself is barred by the Constitution from running again for the Presidency. Obrador, ostensibly a Leftist, has many credible economic achievements to his credit.

But the nature of his politics has made it difficult for Opposition parties to characterise him definitively. He is often compared to another President who was impervious to criticism-the late President Ronald Reagan of the United States, often referred to as the "the Teflon President".

Obrador has been critical of many of the policies that the US Administration has been following in Mexico. Recently he had, in a letter to President Biden, hit out specifically at the USAID-backed group Article 19 as well as Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), which were being focused on reporting on alleged corruption and lack of transparency in the current and previous Mexican administrations.

The letter came following recent reports that the US State Department had said USAID would increase its funding toward such organisations. Obrador did not name which Mexican groups the US should stop funding, but he had accused several media organisations of being part of a conservative movement against his government.

In 2021 the Mexican Government had sent a similar letter demanding that USAID withdraw funding being provided to NGOs critical of its government.

While Obrador had facilitated he extradition of drug Czar Chapo Guzman’s son Ovidio Guzman to the US, and been thanked for it, he had objected strenuously to American plans to build build additional sections of the border wall in Starr County, Texas,to stem the increasing numbers of Mexicans seeking to cross the border illegally.

He had called it a step backwards in bilateral relations. Mexico's Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena had said Mexico believed in bridges not walls.

The Americans had also been putting pressure on Mexico to crackdown on the production of the opioid fentanyl. The American media had also sought to tarnish his image by suggesting that Obrador’s allies had taken millions of dollars from the drug cartels but had to acknowledge that investigations were said to have found no wrongdoing by his party.

On foreign policy too, Obrador had possibly irritated the Americans by publicly supporting the presidents of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, and Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

If Sheinbaum is elected, she scored 50 percent in her party’s selection of the Presidential contender in a four-way race with vigorous support from Obrador, it is likely, but not inevitable, that the Americans would not be very happy. She has demonstrated her own preferences vocally.

At a meeting with businessmen she spoke about a plan to invest $13.57 billion in new energy generation projects through 2030 to increase wind and solar power generation and would modernise five hydroelectric plants. This is contrary to Obrador who has always sought to strengthen the state oil company Pemex over renewable sources of energy.

But she would in all likelihood not abandon one of Obrador’s pet projects, to amend the Constitution. Obrador had said that he would wait till September 2024 to send a series of constitutional reforms which would require approval in Congress by a two-thirds majority and which he had claimed would end the control of those at the top once and for all, so that the people of Mexico could actually rule and govern.

The proposed reforms were particularly directed at the judiciary proposing that judges and magistrates be elected by the people. Obrador had criticised the judiciary for merely representing the interests of the conservatives after a proposed electoral reform designed to reduce the authority of the National Electoral Institute, was struck down by the Supreme Court.

He had proposed that the nonpartisan agency be restructured but the move had led to mass protests against what was seen as a move to replace the leadership of the National Electoral Institute with political appointees who would be confirmed by popular vote.

Critics fear that if Sheinbaum secures a two third majority her party might succeed in watering down the national electoral authority and reduce Mexico to a one-party state again.

Lopez Obrador has lashed out against the judiciary in recent days after an electoral reform, which would shrink the country's elections authority, was partially struck down by the Supreme Court.

The 70-year-old Obrador was elected President in 2018 with nearly a two-to-one margin defeating the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which governed Mexico for 71 consecutive years until 2000, and another six years between 2012 and 2018.

His campaign promise was to “put the poor first”, and the Morena party and Lopez Obrador had enacted a series of reforms intended to increase consumer buying power. The agenda of the party, founded just a decade ago, was to unite the world’s most populous Spanish-speaking country, modernise the state, and refashion the relationship between the people and their government.

As part of this agenda Obrador had slashed his own pay by 60 per­cent, as well as that of his executive staff and Congress. He had given up the presidential palace, known as Los Pinos, and converted it into a public museum. The presidential plane had been sold.

Obrador’s administration had introduced criminal justice reforms to reduce violence by the authorities. Job training and scholarships were being provided for the youth, and the government had lowered the number of arrests by police from 21,700 in 2018 to 2,800 in 2022, though the country’s homicide rate remained very high. But polls consistently suggested that Mexicans felt safer now.

He had introduced a plan to guarantee 100 percent of retirees’ full salary, with his critics claiming it was a pre-election ploy. Nearly every household in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero – traditionally among the country’s poorest – was receiving some form of government subsidy.

The national minimum wage had been almost doubled from 123 Mexican pesos (about $7) to 249 pesos ($14) combined with a host of labour laws to empower trade unions and raise wages. The national poverty rate had been brought down to 36.3 percent, the lowest in a generation.

Obrador’s government had also committed $2.8bn in public funds to create a 188-mile railroad corridor linking the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean to establish a major international trade hub rivalling the Panama Canal.

He had prevented the state-owned oil company from attempting to privatise it; nationalised the country’s lithium reserves, and consolidated the government's control over Mexico's electric utility—actions that were seen as reasserting national sovereignty.

Hundreds of community centres had been established across the country created to help the unemployed start microbusiness. Though considered a leftist Obrador was a deficit hawk and Mexico’s budget was one of the tightest in the world, with deficit spending increasing by only 0.6 percent during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Obrador was also far more accessible than earlier presidents. He was known to hold daily news conferences. He made himself easily available to reporters and his constituents.

He had been known to take the bus, stop at convenience stores to shop, or chat with shopkeepers and their customers. He spoke in colloquialisms and slang; served traditional Mexican comfort food, like tamales, at state banquets, and routinely visited remote villages and poor neighbourhoods.

In the run up to the June 2 2024 elections one of the contenders had already stepped out of the race. Samuel Garcia, one of the two main opposition contenders from the centre-left Citizens' Movement (MC) party, had withdrawn from the contest to return to his post as governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

That left only Xochitl Galvez, candidate of the main opposition alliance over whom Sheinbaum has held a comfortable lead of more than 20 percentage points.

Galvez belongs to the centre-right National Action Party (PAN) which from being a rival of the PRI is now its ally. The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) had also endorsed her after . And publicly PRI chairman Alejandro Moreno told a news conference that his party was now fully behind Galvez abandoning their own hopeful, Beatriz Paredes.

Galvez is seen to be the most formidable challenge to MORENA. But she had come under a cloud when social media reported that she had plagiarised parts of the academic report submitted for a computer engineering degree. An investigation by Mexico's top university was reported to have been initiated.

Her antecedents were said to be humble. As a girl, she sold gelatin and tamales to help her family. She worked as a scribe in a local civil registry office as a teen.

As a teenager she moved to Mexico City and worked as a phone operator. She earned a scholarship that allowed her to study computer science. Then she started a technology company that had won government contracts.

She has presented herself as an example of triumph over adversity. She has been a supporter of business unlike Obrador who railed against corporate greed. Galvez who is 60 is said to have an appeal that transcends class divides. Like the president, she is also adept at dealing with the poorer segments of Mexican society.

The battle on June 2 2024 is one between women. World experience has shown that women, when at the helm of power, tend to function in a manner quite distinct from men. One now has to wait for the results and see what the post June 2024 years hold for Mexico.