Courtesy : New York Times News
As our Moscow correspondent Ellen Barry reports, the way news organizations in other countries portray the United States’ presidential campaign “reveals as much about how they see themselves as it does about the American political process.”
The same can be said for much of the global conversation on social media platforms during Monday night’s final presidential debate on foreign policy. Some noted on Twitter that their countries were not visible at all, as neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney discussed the debt crisis in Europe; India; South Africa; or the thousands of people killed in the drug war in Mexico.
In the Middle East and North Africa, others, including this blogger from Beirut, commented that both candidates bestowed much attention on Israel without discussing Palestinians.
Elsewhere around the world, our correspondents shared these reports about how the campaign is being viewed in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Poland and South Korea.
The View From Brazil
The main newspapers in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro feature daily coverage of the race, analyzing every shift in the polls and sending correspondents to interview voters in states including Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire.
Shock emerged in Brazil and other countries, for instance, over Mr. Romney’s assertion in the Oct. 3 debate that he would end the subsidy for PBS, as previously reported on The Lede. The claim by Mr. Romney focused attention not only on the issue of government assistance for public broadcasting, an idea that enjoys broad support in Brazil, but also the deep cultural ties between the United States and Brazil. After all, a Brazilian version of “Sesame Street,” called “Vila Sésamo,” was first broadcast in the 1970s, including a character in the prominent role of Garibaldo, or Big Bird.
Reflecting a broad current of support in Brazil for President Obama, Brazilian news media appeared to be relieved when the Obama campaign released ads attacking Mr. Romney for suggesting that PBS could lose its funding.
Yet while American campaigns still provoke interest in Brazil, other issues are gaining prominence. This week’s issue of Veja, Brazil’s most influential news magazine, offered an example of this shift in its cover article. It had nothing to do with Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney; instead, it discussed the ushering in of new political leadership in China, which has surpassed the United States as Brazil’s largest trading partner. —SIMON ROMERO
The View From China
The timing of the American presidential vote — just two days before the opening of the 18th Communist Party Congress — has meant that despite the campaign’s anti-China themes, it has attracted little attention in China. But there is no doubt that the government is monitoring the election, and officials in top financial institutions are well informed, and concerned, about the combat against China in the campaign, experts say.
After the debate last week when the candidates vied for anti-China barbs, the Chinese Foreign Ministry chided the candidates, suggesting that they raise the level of their discourse. “We hope the U.S. Republican and Democratic candidates will get rid of the impact of election politics and do more things conducive to China-U.S. mutual trust and cooperation,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei.
Until the first debate between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, when the president fared poorly, the Chinese took it almost for granted that Mr. Obama would be re-elected. But political experts say that China would find a way to work with Mr. Romney, whose business background is considered a plus by some. Though his threat to name China a currency manipulator for keeping the renminbi at an artificially low level is not appreciated, analysts say he would find it difficult to follow through on his pledge because the value of China’s currency against the dollar has risen substantially in recent years. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama’s record on China has been viewed with increasing skepticism.
“There has been a downturn in the relationship in the last two years because he and Hillary Clinton announced the rebalancing,” a plan to deploy more military assets to Asia, said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S.-China Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. —JANE PERLEZ
The View From Germany
A lot has changed since Mr. Obama’s race to the White House electrified the world, overturning expectations about race at home and abroad and bringing “Yes, we can,” into the political lexicon around the world.
At the start of the presidential primary season in December 2007, Christoph von Marschall, Washington bureau chief for Germany’s daily Tagesspiegel newspaper, published a book titled “Barack Obama — The Black Kennedy.” When primary season rolled around this year, Mr. Marschall brought out a book with a very different name and a very different feel.
“What’s Wrong With the Amis,” the book was called, using the German nickname for Americans, with the subtitle “Why They Hate What We Love About Barack Obama.” When he returns home for reading tours and other public events, the two most frequent questions he receives illustrate the gap between Germans and Americans on the president, Mr. Marschall says: Why didn’t Mr. Obama close Guantánamo Bay, and what do Americans have against health care?
Andreas Etges, an expert on American history at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, said the 2008 campaign broke precedents in the German news media, with front-page articles in daily newspapers about state primary victories by Hillary Rodham Clinton or Mr. Obama. This year, Mr. Etges said, despite the disillusionment factor, the coverage started early again, with German news media keeping people abreast of every fluctuation in the race for the Republican nomination.
“It’s definitely way more than Germans report on any other elections internationally, even on our neighbors,” Mr. Etges said. In Berlin, many Germans pride themselves on their fluency in the nuts and bolts of the horse race — the breaking polls in the swing states, the intricacies of the Electoral College. “In spite of all the talk about American influence going down, the interest Germans have shown still illustrates what importance they think the American elections will have,” Mr. Etges said. —NICHOLAS KULISH
The View From Japan
Interest in American presidential elections is always high in Japan, which relies on the United States to be both its military protector and an important market for exports.
As in past elections, the major newspapers and television news programs have run daily reports on the campaign that can rival those of American news media in their level of analysis and detail.
However, political and media analysts say the interest is much lower this time than in the 2008 election, which mirrored events in Japan at the time. In 2009, Japan held a historic election of its own, when an opposition party took power, ending almost six decades of virtually uninterrupted one-party rule by the Liberal Democrats.
Analysts said that as Japan gropes toward a stronger multiparty system, interest is high in how the United States’ system works, and particularly in party primaries. Parties in Japan choose their leaders by an internal party vote, and although internal votes have become more public and transparent in recent years, Japanese voters still feel they want a bigger voice in the process.
“In Japan, the election of party heads is still not open to the people,” said Takeshi Suzuki, a communications professor at Meiji University in Tokyo. “There is intense attention here in how America, our senior colleague in democracy, chooses its presidents.”
Mr. Suzuki said this was particularly apparent in one way that coverage this time has been different than in the past: Japanese reporters are spending more time on the campaign trail, particularly in closely fought states like Ohio. In the past, reports often dealt with abstract polling data and general observations, he said. This time, Mr. Suzuki said, reporters have done more on-the-ground coverage of whether the candidates have succeeded in wooing women or minorities, and the prospects for states’ going red or blue.
Analysts said interest was also keen in economic policy, largely because growth in the Japanese economy still relies heavily on whether American consumers buy its cars and electronics. This has led to close attention of the candidates’ economic agendas, and particularly on issues important to Japan like whether the United States will prop up the dollar, which is near historic lows against the yen.
“The only chance in the short term for the yen to go down is for the United States economy to pick up,” said Tatsuhiko Yoshizaki, chief economist at the Sojitz Research Institute. “The expectations are high, so people in the market are watching this one very closely.”
Initial reaction in Japan to the final debate, on foreign policy, was dominated by unease at the focus on the Middle East.
“Too many topics went ignored, including the euro crisis, the Guantánamo base, immigration, nuclear nonproliferation, global warning. And of course, relations with Japan and the U.S. troops in Okinawa,” Daisuke Nakai, a New York-based staff writer for the daily Asahi Shimbun, wrote on Twitter. Okinawans have long been upset at what they see as their disproportionate burden in hosting more than half of the American troops in Japan; their grievances spiked recently with reports that a woman was raped there by two American sailors.
“Mr. Obama reiterated that the United States is a Pacific nation, but at least judging from this debate, I don’t get the sense that the region is a priority,” Mr. Nakai said.
Japan has become increasingly concerned about China’s growing power in the region, including its claims to an island chain controlled by Japan.
—MARTIN FACKLER, HISAKO UENO, MAKIKO INOUE AND HIROKO TABUCHI
—MARTIN FACKLER, HISAKO UENO, MAKIKO INOUE AND HIROKO TABUCHI
The View From Poland
In Poland, one of Mr. Romney’s stops on his overseas tour this past summer, all the major newspapers, magazines, online platforms and television stations are giving the election considerable air time, although there too the intensity of the coverage has dipped since the frenzy of attention after the last campaign. That has not stopped leading outlets from throwing manpower at the race.
On Twitter, Mr. Romney’s criticism about the decision to remove missile systems in Poland prompted discussion in both Poland and the United States, with a commentator saying the move was intended to win Polish-American votes.
The state-run television network TVP will send five additional correspondents to the United States for Election Day and will operate with six film crews. The evening news will be broadcast from Washington on Nov. 6 and 7. The biggest commercial television station, TVN, is sending three additional correspondents to help its usual correspondent cover Election Day.
In spite of the serious repercussions that Mr. Romney’s tough stance on Russia could have for Poland, many people there are more focused on enjoying the gaffes and the jokes. Less earnest news outlets are running items about light subjects like cookies with the candidates’ faces on them or a poll of which candidates’ wives looked better when they both wore pink to the debate. —HANNA KOZLOWSKA
The View From South Korea
After the second presidential debate, some newspapers in South Korea dedicated a full page or two to the subject, displaying photos and graphics and charts and describing how President Obama turned more aggressive. The daily Chosun Ilbo reported that “China,” as well as “jobs” and “economy,” were key words in presidential debates, and that that seemed to reflect American unease over China rising as a “superpower” and what it called a populist political need to “blame the American economic crisis on China.”
Still, South Koreans are preoccupied with their own presidential election in December, and they see little difference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney on North Korea — the one issue in the American election that really interests many South Koreans.
“In the past, people here believed that there was a clear difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties on North Korea,” said Koh Yu-hwan, a political scientist and North Korea expert in Dongguk University in Seoul. “But after Obama came into office, such a difference was gone and in South Korean eyes, Obama was not that different from Bush when it comes to North Korea.”
Mr. Koh said the outcome of the election could affect Korea’s vote, because “liberals and conservatives here will argue that their candidate can work better with the new U.S. president. People here don’t like a discord between Washington and Seoul on their North Korea policies.” —CHOE SANG-HUN
For some, the debate raised more questions than answers.