Mexican voters to pick president and more than 18,000 other officials

Presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya greets supporters during an April rally in the state of Jalisco.

MEXICO CITY — Mexican voters are heading to the polls Sunday in a historic election that could reshape the country.

Voters will choose a new president and make decisions on more than 18,000 other posts that are up for grabs, including a new Congress, several governorships and municipal seats, according to the Mexican Election Institute.

The election also stands to impact the country’s relationship with its neighbor to the north.

Mexico’s new president will have to deal with his US counterpart, President Donald Trump, along with his threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement and his calls for the construction of a border wall.

To some degree the election has become a referendum on Mexico’s political elite and its economic direction, as well as the tenure of the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, who is limited to a single six-year term. Peña Nieto has been criticized by many who say he failed to adequately deal with crime, corruption and economic inequality.

Some 89 million people are eligible to vote in Sunday’s elections, and millennials and the so-called Generation Z are expected to play a key role in defining the country’s future.

Younger voters have grown up surrounded by rampant corruption and drug violence. They represent nearly half of all the eligible voters and nearly 13 million of them would be voting for the first time, electoral officials said.

But on Sunday morning in Mexico City, many people were watching Spain and Russia face off in the World Cup instead of election coverage. Some people told CNN they were waiting for the match to finish before making their way to the polls.

There were also signs around the city notifying residents that liquor sales are suspended because of the election.

The winner of Sunday’s presidential election doesn’t need an absolute majority of the votes, just the most votes among the four candidates.

The new president will take office on December 1.

The four candidates

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is one of four candidates in the race to become the 58th president of Mexico.

Lopez Obrador, 64, is making his third presidential bid. The former mayor of Mexico City began his political career as a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He later joined the Party of the Democratic Revolution and more recently formed his own party, the National Regeneration Movement — known as MORENA.

He lost the presidential election in 2006, called the results a fraud and spent weeks camping out in protest with thousands of his supporters in Mexico City. He lost again in 2012.

Ricardo Anaya, 39, is the candidate and former national leader of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), which governed Mexico for 12 years before Peña Nieto took office in 2012. He’s also held multiple seats in public office in the state of Querétaro and served in the lower chamber of Congress.

Jose Antonio Meade, 49, is Mexico’s former finance minister. The lawyer and economist is the candidate of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had been in power for 70 years until the election of Vicente Fox of the National Action Party in 2000.

Meade has held several cabinet posts across two administrations, including secretary of foreign affairs and secretary of social development for Peña Nieto.

Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, 60, is running as an independent. The former governor of the industrial state of Nuevo Leon is known as “El Bronco,” or wild horse, for his strong personality.

Many politicians have been killed during the campaign

This campaign season in Mexico has been particularly violent. In the nine months leading up to this weekend’s presidential election, at least 132 politicians have been killed, according to the security consulting group Etellekt.

Of those, 48 were candidates running in the current elections.

One of the most shocking deaths occurred last month, when congressional candidate Fernando Puron was shot in the head while posing for a photo in the northern state of Coahuila.

Puron was just one of 12 Institutional Revolutionary Party members to lose his life, per Etellekt.

The violence isn’t limited to politicians, either. Mexican journalist Jose Guadalupe Chan was killed on Friday in the state of Quintana Roo, state officials said in a statement. He was the seventh journalist killed in Mexico this year.