Election 2008


World Eyes U.S. Presidential Race

January 17, 2008 01:15 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The foreign media show a keener-than-usual interest in the 2008 presidential primaries. Opinions on U.S. electoral system and the candidates vary around the world.

30-Second Summary

U.S. democracy is as much the focus of world attention as the candidates themselves. Op-eds extolling the virtues of the American electoral process are commonplace, though in no way represent a global consensus.

A staff writer for the Beirut Daily Star said that the U.S. electoral system is a model for democracy, as evidenced by the primaries.

Columnists from several British papers went even further by suggesting that Britain needs to adopt the primary system, which would subject U.K. candidates to the rigorous scrutiny their American counterparts endure.

The Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that the participation of Barack Obama in the race proves America’s “inexhaustible capacity for regeneration, innovation and transformation.” That sentiment was echoed by a British columnist from The Guardian who says that American politics is invigorated by outsiders with fresh ideas. By comparison, Britain’s professional political class rarely has anything new to offer.

German magazine Der Spiegel differed in its take on Obama, writing that it is naïve to think that affable outsiders always stimulate democracy. George W. Bush was a Washington outsider, according to Der Spiegel, and he “played the nice guy too. And look what happened.”

In a similarly critical vein, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle argued that the U.S. electoral process is unnecessarily drawn out and expensive. Big business has too much influence in U.S. elections, and personalities become more important than policy.

Another Deutsche Welle article thought it “surreal” the way U.S. elections can be swayed by emotional outbursts—á la Hillary Clinton’s tearing-up in New Hampshire.

Americans will be happier to hear the opinion of British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which writes that the States treat their democratic process with respect and seriousness—whatever its flaws.

Headline Links: Europe watches intently

Background: Europeans eager for new faces in the White House

Opinion & Analysis: U.S. politics unpredictable and polarizing

The candidates
The U.S. democratic model is fraught with problems
A democracy to learn from

Reference Material: The candidates, the platforms, the electoral process


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