There is enormous interest around the world in
this year's U.S. presidential campaign, particularly the just concluded
Democratic Party convention and now the Republican Party convention which gets
underway today in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Shieila Meintjes is
professor of political science at the University of the Witwatersrand in
Johannesburg, South Africa. She told most South
Africans know the differences between the two major U.S. political parties and
their policies when it comes to Africa.
"There's a great deal of interest in South Africa
in what's happening in the United States. It's been front-page news for the
last few weeks. The Obama-Clinton power struggle was front-page news here for
months and months. So in South Africa there has been enormous interest in what
is happening, and I think great excitement that Barack Obama has come out as
the accepted Democratic candidate," she said.
said most South Africans know the differences between the two major U.S.
political parties and their policies.
a very, very clear recognition that the Republican Party is the party that is
leading the United States at the moment and that the incumbent president who is
not very popular at the moment I might add might as well be followed by an
equally conservative and rather elderly statesman in McCain who once a
soldier," Meintjes said.
reference to Senator John McCain's role as a former soldier, Meintjes said
although South Africans revere their soldiers, there is a much stronger
social-democratic leadership in South Africa than it is in the United States.
soldiers are venerated in our country, our country was liberated by a civil war
in which we had military leaders on both sides, there is a much stronger
social-democratic leadership in South Africa than it is in the United States,
and they recognize that the Democratic Party is quite different and more
enlightened than the Republican Party," she said.
said even though most South Africans are still digesting the announcement of
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's vice presidential running
mate, she sees it as an attempt by Senator McCain to win over Hilary Clinton
Meintjes said she doesn't believe Hilary Clinton supporters would flock to the
McCain-Palin ticket because, according to her, there is a world of policy
differences between the Democratic and Republican Parties.
fact that a woman is going to be his running mate is one issue, but she seems
to be relatively conservative, she's pro-gun, she's anti-abortion. And as we
understand it here, most of Hilary Clinton supporters are in favor of gun
control and pro-choice. Those are very different ways of understanding the
world. So it seems to me that the fact she is a woman is going to be trumped by
the kinds of policies that Obama and the Democratic Party follow. I'm not so
sure that there is a simple equation between support for women by women, and
indeed in most countries in the world, women don't just vote for women. They
also vote for men, and they do so on the basis of ideology," Meintjes said.