There will be no fundamental shift in US policy toward Europe following Obama's reelection. Instead, the partnership will be marked by continuation and reliability, says Vincent Michelot.
DW: What does the Obama victory mean for Europe?
Vincent Michelot: It means no change in the policy of the United States toward Europe. It means a continuation and there's absolutely no reason for President Obama to shift his strategy toward Europe. On the other hand what it may mean that the President will ask and expect more from Europe especially in terms of economic recovery because economic recovery in the States is predicated upon some economic recovery in Europe. The two partners, Europe and the United States have been linked for defense reasons for a long time. But now it's even more true on the economic front.
What could Europe do to help Obama have a successful, perhaps more successful second term?
What European leaders could do to help President Obama make his second term a successful one would be to fix the crisis in Greece, in Spain and in Italy and to also a larger degree in other European countries such as France.
What role will Europe play in the next four years given the much-talked about US pivot to Asia?
I think there has been a real overreach and exaggeration of the so called Pacific turn of the United States. It's not like the United States has abandoned Europe and it's not like the relations have been colder or more distant. It's simply that the United States has had to address more urgent issues in other parts of the world and that Europe indeed has not been a concern because there is no emergency except for the economic crisis and the fact that Europe at the present point is not a stable economic partner.
But compared to other much more urgent crises such as a nuclear Iran, the economic woes of Europe are nothing really to worry about. I think it's a role as a reliable and strong partner of the United States. Not only in economic terms, but also in talking with Russia, in dealing with the question of a nuclear Iran and in cooperating with the United States to bring some kind of solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is going to be back as top priority for President Obama.
Were you surprised by the election outcome or did you expect Obama to win?
I happen to believe that I am rational person who has looked at an incredibly large number of opinion polls. The one surprise was the absence of surprise. Things were exactly what the latest polls indicated. There was no last-minute movement of independent voters toward Romney. The dynamics of the campaign were more favorable to Obama in the last few days. The states voted exactly as expected. Romney was never ahead in Ohio in any poll. And those people who believed for example that Mitt Romney had a chance of winning Pennsylvania were people who were simply so gullible that the thought of what was a desperate tactic move was actually a real attempt to win the state of Pennyslvania.
Vincent Michelot is professor of political science at Sciences Po in Lyon, France.