04 July 2007
While AMLO cries foul, his opponents spend big
In the months leading up to last year's presidential election, wealthy Mexicans sat on their wallets, putting big-ticket purchases on hold. Now they're spending again - and spending big.
German automaker Mercedes Benz reported an 83-percent increase in Mexican sales during June 2007 when compared to the same month last year - which just happened to precede the July 2 vote.
A Cox News feature on Mexico's ultra wealthy described how the luxury car business was impacted by the political cycle:
Just off of Avenue Presidente Masaryk, the Rodeo Drive of Mexico, sits the Mulsanne luxury car dealership. Inside is the crown jewel, a bright yellow Lamborghini Murcielago that sells for $300,000.
The manager, Jeronimo Irurita, says the luxury car business is tied tightly to the whims of the daily news: a rash of kidnappings will send sales plummeting (although his fleet of bulletproof cars do better in those times).
But worse, he says, is the threat of a left-wing government.
"If the left had won, many of my clients would have moved to Miami," he said. "This business would have disappeared, or it would have changed to cheaper cars."
With Calderon's victory, business picked up nicely, and the yellow Lamborghini sold quickly to a Mexico City businessman, he said.
It's not just fancy cars. I recall speaking with the organizers of the EduCanada expositions, who reported robust attendance at this year's events in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey after experiencing a substantial decline in 2006. The reason: Election uncertainty. One school division superintendent told me that just as many students came to his city as before, but that their parents opted to pay the entire tuition up front, forgoing the monthly payment option.
Anyway, this Mercedes Benz news comes during the same week as Mexico's "legitimate president" Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador held a rally in the Zocalo to mark the one-year anniversary of the July 2 election he says was fraudulent.
Unfortunately, an El Universal poll showed that if Mexicans were to vote today, Felipe Calderon would win by a 15-percentage-point margin. AMLO would still receive 30 percent, though. Thus, writing him off as a spent force would be premature. Yes he shed roughly 15 percent of his support, but 30 percent of Mexicans still back him. Many of them believe the election results were not legitimate. AMLO will persist, but his biggest problem is perhaps a lack of PRD unity. As Sergio Sarmiento pointed out in his Grupo Reforma column this week, none of the PRD governors attended AMLO's July 1 rally in the Zocalo. And look no further than the strife in Zacatecas for proof of problems in the PRD. The PAN has unity problems too, but they seem to close ranks when it matters.