With only 11 days until the US presidential elections, European papers are putting their bets on their favorite candidates, while others comment on elections that have just been held in Kosovo.
The Financial Times of London backed John Kerry as the better choice for president of the United States. According to the paper, President George W. Bush's flaw is his stubborn reluctance to admit mistakes and to adjust personnel and policy. Blind faith in military power as a tool for change has too often influenced his decision-making. The paper conceded that Kerry often fails to inspire, owing his rise more to opposition to Bush than loyalty to his own cause. But on balance, he is the better choice, the daily argued.
"Bush or Kerry?" wondered the French daily Le Journal de la Haute-Marne. The paper said the ideological differences between the two candidates touch on an issue that affects the whole world, namely the role of the US on the global stage in an age where not the Soviet Union but international terrorism is the key challenge. The paper said if the rest of the world could vote, Kerry would win, but it's the American public that is going to the polls.
The Danish paper Information said the whole world should have the right to cast a vote in the US Presidential elections, because it's our world and our future that are at stake when the world's most powerful leader is elected. While in the US the race between Kerry and Bush is almost a dead heat, three quarters of voters in other countries would choose Kerry without hesitation.
Vienna's Kurier commented: "This time election observers will be present to make sure the voting punch cards have been properly perforated, that the reading equipment is working and that the newest electronic voting machines have not been tampered with." The election observers will be there to prevent the normal kinds of voting manipulation seen in developing democracies, the paper wrote, and then affirmed that yes, it was writing about the self-proclaimed home of democracy, the United States. "Nevertheless the OSCE is sending 100 observers for the presidential elections to the immense displeasure of American bureacrats," the paper wrote.
Commenting on the weekend's elections in the UN administered province of Kosovo, the ABC paper from Madrid said the poll showed that the multi-ethnic society in Kosovo remains an illusion. It warned that if neither the ethnic-Albanians nor the Serbian minority are prepared to make concessions the only solution for the province is to divide it up. And the paper warned leaders from both sides that negotiations are better than losing everything with an outbreak of new violence.
Switzerland's Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote that despite the fact that the elecitons were peaceful, Kosovo has not come closer to an independent future. There's still too much division over who will rule the province, it said, and under these conditions it seems unrealsitic that discussions about Kosovo's independence can begin in earnest in nine months time.
Belgrade's daily paper Danas wrote that Serbian boycott of the elections in Kosovo will presumably hurt the Serbs themselves and create resentment among the international community. The paper noted that "while the Serbian dissatisfaction with the UN adminsitration in the province is understandable -- one has to remember the UN is only in Kosovo because beforehand the ethnic Albanians were subjected to terror."