European Press and the Presidential Election
The outcome of the US presidential election affects the lives of millions of people around the world. So it's probably not surprising that many Europeans are resentful that only Americans will have a say in it. European media are saturated with election coverage that is heavily biased in favor of the Democrats. And, as in past elections, European elites are also demanding the right to help choose the next occupant of the White House. What follows is a brief survey of what some Europeans are saying about the American way of democracy.
"American presidential elections are not ‘home affairs'. American decisions have repercussions all over the globe.... Hence, the world should be given the right to vote."
"Many Britons will feel it would be rather nice to have a vote, too. Well, maybe not a whole vote: I would settle for one worth 50 per cent of those cast by American citizens. After all, since we are a strategic colony of the US, it would be nice to have even a marginal say in how the empire chooses to dispose our goodwill and our blood and treasure."
In Germany, the center-right Berliner Morgenpost proclaims that Obama is ‘The New Kennedy' while the centrist tabloid Bild says that ‘This Black American Has Become the New Kennedy!'
The left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau compares Obama not only to Kennedy, but also to Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt
"Obama is the candidate of the idealists.... Obama also happens to be the candidate of choice for the foreign press.... Many in Europe would like nothing more than a ‘European' America."
"The French Left seeks a charismatic leader, age 46, of mixed race, to deliver a message of hope and unity. At a time when American Democrats are discovering their new hero, it would be a good time for the Socialist Party and their friends to find a Barack Obama to end their internal quarrels."
"Tories and Labour both hope for a sprinkling of Barack Obama's stardust. Ripples of excitement from the campaign of the presidential contender have crossed the Atlantic, and British politicians are agog."
"there is something narcissistic at the heart of the idea that Clinton was breaking down at the thought that America might be recklessly throwing away the chance to be governed by her. Chronic egocentrism, narcissism, self-pity-these are exactly the qualities that to this day make Bill Clinton so hated by his enemies."
"There's a lot of interest in France in this election.... The administration in Paris wants regular reports," says France's ambassador to the United States.
"All of those people who've been dreaming of America's first black president now have to slowly wake up. It'll happen one day, hopefully, but not in this election."
"For all his talk of changing America's face to the world and rebuilding old alliances, Mr Obama has been notably reluctant to engage, particularly with Europe. As British and European leaders ponder the meaning and consequences of Mr Obama's sudden rise, perhaps they should be asking instead how much they really matter to him."
"Obama has made only one brief official visit to London-and none elsewhere in Western Europe...."
"For Germany, it greatly matters who finally wins the presidential race. The Clintons are not naive admirers of Germany and/or Europe. As heirs to an unpopular war in Iraq, the Clintons, after returning to the White House, would demand military coalition troop support from Europe. Indeed, as early as 2004, Gerhard Schroeder was warned that the worst possible outcome of his anti-Iraq war stance would have been a John Kerry victory. Because then the German chancellor would have had a friendly, but pushy partner in the White House who would have quickly put an end to Berlin's anti-American politicking by asking for assistance in Baghdad."
"Nor is European enthusiasm for either candidate likely to survive the election of Mrs Clinton, Mr Obama, or whoever else becomes president. The person who gets voters' nod will rule as an American, promoting American interests around the world-and no doubt disappointing many watchers from abroad. For Europeans to imagine anything else would be naive indeed."
"The [European] Left, which likes to attribute to the United States an imperialist foreign policy and discrimination against blacks and Hispanics, is not as happy about the rise of Obama as one would expect. On sending the message that they are ready to elect an African American, a part of American society is exhibiting an attitude much less prejudiced than is commonly attributed to this country."
"unlike America's presidential primary elections, the start of Europe's presidential selection process foretells very little to do with revivifying democracy."
"The choice of the European president is true to the EU's historical character. Rather than a popular vote, the selection process will belong to the council of chiefs of state and government...."
"reflecting on the wide-open campaign of 2008, it's obvious that British critics-and European critics generally-are guilty of smug superiority and ignorance in writing off the strengths of the American system.... Instead of dismissing American democracy in our snooty way, we need to ask what we can learn."