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U.S. presidential elections are a worldwide event

Thursday November 09, 2000


The U.S. presidential elections are closely watched by foreign governments and media. This report was compiled before Tuesday’s elections. 


By Leticia Hernandez, Hoseung Terry Lee and Raj Jayadev 

Pacifc News Service 


Next to World Cup soccer finals and the Miss Universe pageant, the result of the U.S. presidential election may be the event most anticipated by an international audience. Here's how some governments, foreign media and journalists line up. 

Despite 50 years of hostility North and South Korea agree on one thing – they would like to see a Democratic U.S. president. While the South Korean government, which has close ties with both American parties, is not commenting on the election, the North does not hesitate to state its choice. 

After the GOP Convention in Philadelphia, the Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, North Korea, blasted George Bush as a threat to peace in Southeast Asia.  

The North likes that the Democrats, during their convention, credited both Koreas for their peace efforts and indicated that talks between North Korea and the U.S. would resume. 

HanKook Ilbo, a daily newspaper in Seoul, South Korea, after the Democratic convention in August featured a cartoon of North Korean leader Kim Jung-Il, cheering in front of a TV set, with a newspaper next to him with the headline “Al Gore Leads in the Polls.” 

Joongang Ilbo, another Seoul daily, said the North clearly does not want to deal with the Republican Party's foreign policy, which might stop the talks once again. 

A Democratic victory is also important to the South Korean government because the only positive thing it has going is improved relations with the North.  

Critical of Kim Dae-Jung's administration, South Korean newspapers are filled with predictions of another financial crisis, increased taxes, the downsizing of giant corporations. 

Under the Clinton administration the United States has tilted closer to India than to Pakistan and its military rulers.  

Despite assumptions that Indian leaders would lean towards Gore as a natural extension of Clinton’s stance, editorials and opinions from some of India’s leading papers suggest otherwise.  

The key issues for India – nuclear arms and China. 

The Hindustani Times, which is sympathetic to the ruling BJP, says Bush is closer to India’s position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).  

The paper’s Pramit Pal Chaudhuri wrote on Nov. 2 that "New Delhi’s foreign policy wonks" think George Bush’s world view will be easier on India than Al Gore’s: “Bush publicly and loudly opposes the CTBT. Gore praises the treaty, calling it ‘the tide of history.’ Bush says it is “not the answer” to proliferation’.” 

New Delhi has avoided signing the CTBT, “and believes missile control regimes are baloney. All top the Gore foreign policy agenda and could slow progress in Indo-U.S. relations if the Democrat wins next week.” 

“Indo-US relations tend to run aground on small rocks, minor disputes that cause disproportionate acrimony,” Chauduri continued. “CTBT is a very noisy small rock. And under a President Gore, the racket would be tremendous...Generally on nukes, Bush should be India’s choice – by a neck. “ 

Aziz Haniffa of India Abroad News echoed this analysis. “Bush has said he would favor the immediate lifting of all U.S. sanctions against New Delhi [imposed on India after its May 1998 Pokharan nuclear tests] while Gore has remained circumspect on this score.” 

On China, which India views as a huge threat, Haniffa wrote: “While Bush has strongly repudiated the Clinton administration’s policy of seeing China as a ‘strategic partner’ and said Beijing is nothing but a ‘strategic competitor,’ Gore and his party platform have spoken of the imperative of engaging China – ‘a nation with 1.3 billion people, a nuclear arsenal and a role to play in the 21st century that is destined to be one of the basic facts of international life.’” 

In Mexico, meanwhile, Carlos Salazar, international director of President-elect Vicente Fox’s political party PAN, claimed the party does not endorse either Al Gore or George W. Bush.  

But the PAN’s leanings might be gleaned from the interaction and comments between Fox and the candidates. 

Before Fox won the elections in July, Bush had openly admitted to a friendship with Fox’s opponent, Francisco Labastida Ochoa, and responded to Fox’s victory by simply remarking that it signified an important change.  

Gore, on the other hand, stated his eagerness to work with Fox and congratulated Mexico on the success of the election process. 

Fox’s proposal last August for an open U.S.-Mexican border drew an “open” reaction from Gore and a rejection from Bush.  

Bush said he would continue to protect the border, while Gore said he would consider Fox’s idea at length if he wins the presidency. 

The Mexican weekly news magazine Proceso expressed boredom and indifference toward the U.S. presidential election, saying it doesn’t much matter anyway (the subtitle of Oct. 29 editorial is “Bush and Gore: the same core [El mismo fondo]). “There are no major issues,” said Proceso; “both come from privileged backgrounds, and both represent the interests of American corporate elites.” 

In the Nov. 1 edition of the Colombian weekly newsmagazine Semana, columnist Antonio Caballero said U.S. elections have become like television news--infotainment.  

Issues are taking a back seat to questions like whether Gore can kiss his wife for a full minute without breathing, or whether Bush can properly enunciate “subliminal.” 

That may be fine for U.S. citizens, Caballero wrote, because U.S. presidents have little domestic power, which is diluted by Congress, the courts, state legislatures, city councils, the Federal Reserve, and numerous other institutions.  

U.S. presidents have great powers only abroad where, deciding “to bomb a city here, impose sanctions on a country over there, overthrow a president somewhere else, and sustain a dictator in yet another place.” 

What an irony, he said, that the U.S. presidential election is decided by those over whom the president has little power but excludes those over whom he has a lot of power.  

Not even Puerto Ricans get to vote! “President Kennedy once said ‘I’m a Berliner!’” writes Caballero. “Maybe he was--all the rest of us are Puerto Ricans.”