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Europe

European Press Anxious over US Election

Newspapers on Tuesday expressed anxiety and dread as they mulled the future of America, Europe and the world according to who wins the cliffhanger US elections.

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European newspapers are torn between Bush and Kerry

Dubbed the "mother of all elections," the race for the White House between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry is being closely watched across Europe. Newspapers in the continent's capitals have flipped back and forth between the two candidates in predictions that alternately paint a rosy or a gloomy picture for future relations.

Austria's popular Krone daily warned "the mother of all elections" was set to throw "our world either into a calmer future or into new military adventures."

"Good luck, America," quipped Berlin's Tageszeitung above an image of a slot machine. "American voters today decide their future and that of the entire world."

Italy's La Repubblica summed up the sentiments in Europe: "Perhaps a national election in another country has never before been followed with so much intensity, participation and partiality. The decision between Bush and Kerry can be defined as the first global election, in which 130 million voters in the USA function as a planetary parliament and elect deputies on our behalf to represent six billion men and women."

If Europe could vote...

Fearing a repeat of the vote-counting debacle of the 2000 presidential election, whose final result was delayed for five weeks until the Supreme Court finally awarded victory to Bush, many of the European editorialists lamented that the election was restricted to US voters even though their own fates would be influenced by the outcome.

London-based The Daily Telegraph commented that many people in Britain, and even more in continental Europe, were rooting for Senator John Kerry, desperate not just for a new face in the Oval Office and a change of tone, but also for a fundamental shift in American policy. But, if Kerry wins, it may not be long before America’s critics are once again bemoaning the heavy-handedness of the world’s superpower.

The Bild tabloid in Germany predicted how European leaders would vote if they could. Backing the "cowboy" (Bush) would be Italian and British Prime Ministers Silvio Berlusconi and Tony Blair along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, it said.

Even German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder would cast a ballot for Bush, the paper suggested, arguing that the incumbent indirectly helped the anti-war chancellor get re-elected in 2002 and "that could work again in 2006."

For the "gentleman" as Kerry is frequently being dubbed, the paper listed Blair's wife Cherie, Pope John Paul II, French President Jacques Chirac, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. "The latter is counting on the indulgence of Kerry, who was against the war," Bild said.

The Flemish-language Belgian business magazine De Tijd said Bin Laden's video address to US voters last week was aimed at boosting Bush's chances. "With Bush in the White House, al Qaeda doesn't need a propaganda department. The American army is taking care of its recruitment."

The Moscow daily Vremia Novostei offered its own twist: "An invisible revolution has occurred in Russian foreign policy: For the first time the Kremlin backs the Republicans... Our experts believe that the pragmatic Republicans are preferable to Russia, while the Democrats keep giving us lectures on human rights."

France's Liberation, noting that the United States had been spared a pre-election "October sunrise" terror attack akin to the Madrid bombings in March, wrote that the election would surely see other surprises.

"If there is a 'November 2' surprise,' it will come from the legions of new voters, most of them young, who have perhaps escaped the notice of pollsters. Or from the mobilization of voters who in previous years stayed home," it predicted.

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