It's Election Day, and tensions are high in the U.S. Americans aren't the only ones on the edge of their seats, though. The world is watching closely to see whether President Obama or Mitt Romney will lead the planet's lone superpower for the next four years. A BBC World Service opinion poll of 21 foreign countries found that residents overwhelmingly support Obama. On average, 50 percent of the people in the countries surveyed favored Obama while only 9 percent backed Romney, who came out on top in just one country — Pakistan. Obama also won a string of lukewarm last-minute endorsements from major European newspapers. What do commentators abroad say about the big decision facing U.S. voters? Here's a roundup of international opinion on America's presidential election:
Don't expect much
El Pais (Spain):
"Today isn't a day of election but one of rejection," says Lluís Bassets at Spain's El Pais. "The winner will be the one with fewer voters against him." Either way, it's hard to get excited. The fervor that swirled around Obama in 2008 is gone. If he wins again, the main question is whether he'll be able to get anything done at all in the face of the Republican filibuster in the Senate. If Romney wins, the uncertainty will be even greater, "because little is known about his fickle and fleeting ideas, while plenty is known about those of the neocons who'll prowl all around him."
Either way, there will be gridlock
The Telegraph (U.K.):
"After four years in the White House, Barack Obama is going gray fast," says Tim Stanley in Britain's The Telegraph. "At the moment, Mitt Romney has an admirably dark head of hair, with just a few wisps of white around the ears (his barber insists that not a drop of dye is used). But if he does capture the presidency then there’s every chance that the job will turn Romney just as gray as Obama." Why? Because whoever wins Tuesday's election will face a Congress where the rival party can block his entire agenda. "Put crudely, the Republicans tend to block tax increases and the Democrats oppose savage spending cuts. The result is stalemate." And gray hair for the person in the Oval Office.
At least the China-bashing should end
Let's hope Election Day brings "a pause in the China-bashing game," says China's Xinhua in an editorial. China became a big issue in this campaign, as pointing fingers at Beijing's leaders "became an easy and convenient way for the two candidates to score political gains while avoiding taking responsibility for mishandling the domestic economy." Mitt Romney "often reiterated his threat to designate China a currency manipulator," and President Obama bragged about getting tough with America's second-largest trading partner. "If scapegoating and vilifying China are merely campaign tricks, with the heated campaign drawing to an end, it is time for whoever the president-in-waiting is to tone down his tough rhetoric and adopt a more rational stance."
But Iran-bashing will continue, either way
Tehran Times (Iran):
"Obama came to office in 2008 with a slogan of change, and promised that he will take up reconciliation with the Muslim world in general, and Iran in particular," says Kourosh Ziabari at Iran's Tehran Times. "But what he did in effect was the continuation of the path of confrontation that George W. Bush had followed. He renewed unilateral sanctions against Iran" and repeatedly called such sanctions the pride of his foreign policy. "It's true that Romney and Obama disagree on such issues as healthcare, employment, military spending and taxation, but they share a common point, which is the prolongation of opposition to Iran and its peaceful nuclear program." No matter who wins, it's clear that the president Americans choose will continue to punish the Iranian people "for a crime they have never committed."
Israel wins no matter what
The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
"Perhaps more than any previous election in the United States, the 2012 presidential race has seen attempts to turn Israel into a partisan issue," says The Jerusalem Post in an editorial. Democrats said Republicans were "bad for Israel" because they didn't push hard enough for a two-state solution with the Palestinians, while Republicans accused their rivals of not standing firmly enough for Israel and against Iran. What this shows is that both fully appreciate the special alliance between our two countries. That signals that, "regardless of who wins" on Tuesday, "the ties between America and the Jewish state will remain strong" — too strong for "petty partisan differences to drive a wedge between them."
Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.