Claudia Sheinbaum has been elected president of Mexico by an overwhelming majority. She is the first woman to hold this office since 1 October of this year, in a country of “machos”, where guns, bullets and violence have marked political history with countless murders, and where corruption, drugs, and weapons have contributed to changing the political scenario in recent decades, gradually moving away from the principles that inspired the great nationalist and revolutionary leaders of the early twentieth century. Pascual Orozco, Francisco Villa or Emiliano Zapata, to name but a few, were all inspired by the great Benito Juárez, an indigenous Zapotec who was president five times (1858-1872), founded the secular state and defeated the French invaders.

He did not hesitate to shoot Maximilian of Habsburg, who wanted to establish a dynasty. He was a staunch defender of law and justice, and one of his phrases is now largely forgotten: "Among men, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace." All of these patriots were shaped by the social injustices of a country that lost almost two and a half million square kilometres to the United States in the War of Expansion of 1846-1848, which today forms the states of California, Nevada, Utah, a large part of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Texas also declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, only to join the United States ten years later.

The Mexican Revolution (1910-1917), which ended the long dictatorship of General Porfirio Díaz, initiated the process of social transformation that President Francisco Madero would continue until his assassination in 1913. The revolutionary mood was later confirmed by the constitution of 5 February 1917, which led to the presidency of Venustiano Carranza, who was also assassinated in 1920. The Mexican Magna Carta, still in force today, guaranteed a republican, federal and secular government, with the protection of the working class as a priority.

Mexico's political development cannot be understood without the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whose origins date back to 1929 under the name of the National Revolutionary Party (Partido Nacional Revolucionario), which was renamed the Party of the Mexican Revolution in 1938, until it adopted its current name in 1946. It changed its name, but it was the same caudillist practices that gradually developed into a single party, with light and shade, such as the tragic massacre of hundreds of students by the army in Tlatelolco - Plaza de las Tres Culturas - in 1968, or the assassination of presidential candidate, senator, and PRI president Luis Donaldo Colosio in 1994. In real life, the PRI ruled continuously until 2000, for almost 90 years, spread over 15 six-year terms.

President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) gave legal legitimacy to the first reforms of the revolution, which brought about significant changes in Mexican society: land ownership, improved health conditions for the population, the law of compulsory, and free primary education and the nationalisation of the flourishing oil industry, which was being exploited by more than a dozen foreign companies. Cárdenas had the courage to open the doors to some 20,000 refugees from the Spanish Civil War and broke off diplomatic relations with Franco's Spain, which were not restored until 1977.

President Luis Echeverría did the same in 1973, breaking with the Pinochet dictatorship by welcoming the family of President Salvador Allende and thousands of exiles who found a new home in Mexico. Relations with Chile were not re-established until the return to democracy in 1990. The first half of the 20th century helped to shape the cultural identity of the Mexican people and their identification with the principles of the Revolution. The six-year term of the PRI, which seemed endless, ended in 2000 with the triumph of President Vicente Fox, representing the National Action Party (PAN), founded in 1939 and inspired by the principles of Christian humanism, which eventually became a right-wing party.

Twenty-first century Mexico has consolidated the decline of the PRI, which began with the first split in 1989, when caudillos such as Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, and the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, joined with other small left-wing parties to form the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) as an opposition party to the neoliberal forces of the Mexican right. The future president, Claudia Sheinbaum, and many other young people committed to leftist ideas joined this new party. However, personal rivalries, caudillismo, and factionalism ended in 2012 with the creation of a new party led by López Obrador, MORENA (Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional), which quickly proclaimed him its presidential candidate for the 2018 elections. MORENA has also attracted much of the new generation of politicians, including Sheinbaum.

In light of the recent results, a new political cycle is beginning, led by a woman with a solid scientific background who has been involved in politics since her student days, without ever having been a member of the PRI. She has been efficient and transparent in the high public offices she has held, such as Minister of the Environment and Governor of Mexico City. Some fear that Sheinbaum will govern in the shadow of López Obrador, but this is unlikely, or rather a lack of respect for a woman who has shown strength, character and management. "I am not alone, we are all here," she told thousands of people on the night of her victory. Thanks to a long struggle for their rights, women in Mexico today have really made their mark, and with the constitutional amendment they will achieve parity from 2019.

Mexico is a complex society with around 30% of the population living below the poverty line, a multicultural country with 20% of the population being indigenous and more than 300 indigenous languages spoken. The northern border with the United States, which is more than 3,000 kilometres long, and the fact that almost 40 million Mexicans live there, pose a major challenge to any president. In the south, the border stretches nearly 1,000 kilometers to Guatemala and Belize, the gateway for migrants heading to the United States. The big challenge for Sheinbaum will be to resist populist temptations and focus on the economy.

She must reduce the budget deficit, attract investment to create stable jobs, and reduce the informal sector that floods the streets of the cities. The unnatural alliance between the PRI, PAN, and PRD against Sheinbaum and MORENA, expressed in the candidacy of Xóchilt Gálvez, suffered a historic defeat, receiving only 27.9% of the vote against 59.35%, a difference of almost 32 points, while the third candidate on the list, Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the Movimiento Ciudadano, received a respectable 10.41%. These figures are based on the counting of almost 97% of the votes.

The new president's main challenge will be to interpret the will of the Mexican people with regard to the current president's idea of amending the constitution through the so-called Plan C, reforming the judicial system and - as he has emphasized - eliminating corruption by electing judges by popular vote. Thanks to the large parliamentary majority achieved in the elections, MORENA and its allies are on the verge of an absolute majority, paving the way for constitutional reform. The big loser, the PRI, will lose all its political weight, while the PRD will probably disappear if it does not get 3% of the vote. The right-wing PAN will continue to be the second political force, and the Movimiento Ciudadano, a formation of young innovators who call themselves social democrats but are led by old PRI politicians, has a long way to go to consolidate itself as a political force. It will depend on how its parliamentarians deal with this new political landscape.

Claudia Sheinbaum will need prudence and moderation to avoid the temptations of authoritarianism and the dangers of a populism that blinds those in power. She must govern for a society that has been waiting for decades for real and lasting change to lift millions of Mexicans out of poverty.