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Europe

European Press Review: New Presidential Candidate

Thursday's European papers dedicated column space to the nomination of John Kerry as the official challenger to George W Bush.

The French daily Le Monde pointed out that this week the future of the world is not in the hands of the United Nations in New York, nor in Brussels or Baghdad, but in an arena normally reserved for basketball or ice hockey -- the Fleet Center in Boston, where the Democratic party officially nominated John Kerry as its candidate for the presidential elections. The paper stressed that come November 2nd, voters will have to make a crucial choice between two diametrically opposed visions, between George W. Bush for whom military power is the dominant element enabling the US to act unilaterally on the international front, and John Kerry for whom legality and cooperation with allies and partners are the essential elements of a viable foreign policy.

The Financial Times’ comment page carried a cartoon of John Kerry surrounded by the “rich and beautiful”. The author of the editorial was astonished at the number of celebrities attending the Democratic Party convention in Boston: This gathering made clear that when celebrities decide to stump for their candidate of choice, the ones they support are usually Democrats, he wrote. But the writer argued that the stars in question are way off the Democrats' traditional working-class base. These people may support worthy causes such as free speech and gay rights, but just like the Democratic leadership itself, most are not really on the left in any recognizable sense, he concluded.

Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung saw a slight advantage for John Kerry in the race for the presidency. The paper pointed out that American voters have always had a sense of harmony: They want a president who has inclusive skills rather than exclusive ones. The paper claimed that the central premise of Bush’s presidency “either you're with us or against us”, is exactly the attitude which could finally cost him his re-election.

From Paris, Le Figaro also weighed up the two candidates' chances, saying that what Bush has that Kerry does not is a sympathetic approach to the common American on the street. But the daily predicted that if Kerry, who might in fact look more aristocratic than he really is, could find the necessary simplicity to relate to the common man, he would be able to take the big step towards moving into the White House.

Britain’s Independent newspaper explained why Tony Blair can’t afford for Kerry to win. The paper said the British prime minister must know he is in too deep with Bush to be able to welcome a change now. But the paper also outlined the burdens of a Bush victory for Blair, which it said would lock London even more closely to a Washington still liable to pursue unilateral confrontation in Iran, Syria and North Korea. Britain would be forced ever further towards an Atlanticist future which would lead it away from the rest of the world.