European Press Review: The Final Spurt to the White House | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 15.10.2004
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European Press Review: The Final Spurt to the White House

European newspapers on Friday commented on the US presidential election campaign, which is in its final stages, and Germany's Opel and KarstadtQuelle crisis.

British daily The Independent wrote that this year’s US election is among the most important in living memory. The ideologically-driven Bush administration has opened up divisions in America, the paper said. It pointed to the widening gap between rich and poor and the pressing social and health problems it has brought in its wake. The daily also cited the status of the US as the world’s sole superpower and the pursuit of the war on terror. From this side of the Atlantic, Kerry’s arguments look conclusive, the paper surmised and underlined that the one giant uncertainty is whether Bush’s promise to keep Americans safe will trump everything else. The paper concluded that Kerry must apply all his efforts and all the force of his arguments to ensuring fear does not prevail.

Italian conservative paper La Repubblica commented that John Kerry has now embarked on the most difficult stage of the election trail. In the last minutes of this election marathon, which began at least a year ago, Bush, as incumbent president, will be able to make use of the overwhelming power of his office, it wrote. This is one explanation as to why in history, two out of three presidents are re-elected. The daily said that from now on Kerry is only a simple opposition leader, who the media follow out of respect - and because they have to. George W. Bush, however, is “Mr. President” and can command national attention.

Denmark's conservative daily Berlinske Tidende wrote that Bush has had a difficult term in office during the last four years. His presidential period will always be referred to in connection with the September 11th terrorism attacks. During the televised debates with John Kerry, it became obvious that the democratic challenger actually had ideas and plans to offer, the paper said. Bush’s only counter-remedy for that was the “carry on as before “ method. This is not sufficient, the paper warned.

Other European dailies commented on the woes of German industry, particularly the crisis facing Opel, General Motors’ German subsidiary, and Germany’s retail giant Karstadt-Quelle, the word’s biggest department store chain.

French newspaper La Tribune stated that the announced job losses of around 16,000 marked a black day for German industry. The shock has been enormous. Are we to conclude that Germany as an economic model is now in danger, the paper asked. German enterprises are the strongest in the world. The German export balance is maintained by healthy mid-sized businesses and is the envy of the French, the paper wrote. But, the paper said, the Germans envy us too, in particular our Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. He has been extremely active in his efforts to save French companies - his German counterpart, Wolfgang Clement, hasn't been nearly as energetic, the paper concluded.