The European press was united in blaming US President George Bush for the Republican losses in the recent elections. Above all, his Iraq policies are to blame, commentators said.
The European press blamed Bush for the Republican election losses
The Leipziger Volkszeitung said no one can dismiss Iraq as the main reason Republicans lost the election. "A war president has found himself on the defensive, even in his own country: George Bush will himself admit that he is the chief reason for the defeat of his Republican Party in the Congressional elections. The recent corruption and sex scandals meant a loss of moral ground. But nothing influenced the results as much as the inability of the US government to pacify the situation in Iraq."
According to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Democrats were able to frame the election as a vote for or against Bush's Iraq policy. Yet Republicans will still have a chance in the next election, if Bush can show some type of victory in Iraq and if Democrats lean too far left. In the US, "patriotism remains more important than pacifism and America remains a religious country. The war in Iraq will remain, in retrospect legitimate, as long as it ends with a victory."
Le Figaro of Paris noted President Bush is now a "lame duck." "He has wasted his political capital and doesn't have many options left. It is, one might say, an optimal chance for him to radically change his approach. He must rescue what he can from his grandiose plan to democratize the Middle East, which up to now, has only had one concrete result: the trial against Saddam Hussein."
The Dutch newspaper Volkskrant said voters punished the Republican Congress for not intervening to correct the mistaken policies of President Bush. "The election results must be seen as a Republican defeat rather than as a win for the Democrats. The voters have punished President Bush for his failed Iraq politics (and for his dreadful appearance after Hurricane Katrina.)"
In the UK, The Independent reflected most opinions with its front-page headline: "It's the war, stupid."
The Financial Times said Bush could salvage the remainder of his presidency by showing humility and cooperating with the Democrats. "Americans have at last started to hold to account the Republican leadership and the administration of George W. Bush for their incompetence and disdain for the law, and for the way they have dragged America's reputation through the mud and muddle of the Middle East."