US Election Draws Global Attention

Al Pessin
The re-election of President Barack Obama was broadly welcomed around the world, where his popularity has been running higher than in the United States.

Obama had been scoring as much as 75 percent in international public opinion polls, and waking up to the news Wednesday morning, Londoners welcomed his re-election.

“I think it’s a good result. I think it’s what the rest of the world would have wanted, outside of America. I think he has got a steady hand on things and he will be good for the U.S.,” said one man.

“He’s a great voice of America, I think he really understands the people. I think he has really good intentions... and I really think he’s going to help the economy and the country boom even further,” commented a woman.

U.S. expert James Boys at London’s King’s College is not surprised by the reactions.

“From a European perspective, I think there will be a general sense of pleasure that he has been re-elected and that we will continue to see him and his Cabinet engaging on the world stage as [a] friend to Europe,” said Boys.

World leaders sent their congratulations to Obama. On a visit to Jordan, British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about doing more to end the Syrian conflict.

"I am hearing appalling stories of what has happened inside Syria and one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis,” said Cameron.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also were among the leaders welcoming the election results. Netanyahu is a longtime friend of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but he said the U.S.-Israeli alliance is stronger than ever. Still, on the streets of Jerusalem, reaction was mixed.

"I think he is good for Israel because he supports us. He continues to give us billions of dollars every year and the most high-tech weapons," said one Israeli man.

"Tragedy. It's an absolute tragedy. I have been following very carefully what Obama has been up to," said one Israeli woman who spoke about the election.

Palestinians also had mixed feelings.

"We now hope that after winning for the second time, he will be more effective because there will be less political pressure on him,” said one
Palestinian man.

"I can't see serious changes. I can't because if you talk about Obama, already he gave various promises, but on the ground we as Palestinians, we have seen nothing,” said another Palestinian man.

And in Cairo, a pharmacist indicated he has been disappointed in the U.S. president.

"He gave a very good speech at Cairo University about U.S. policy toward the Middle East. But none of those things were implemented," he said.

In Afghanistan, people told VOA they are pleased that the plan to withdraw foreign forces will go ahead, and expressed the hope for U.S. help in reconciling with the Taliban.  

In Moscow, a man said the president is a “known quantity,” while Romney would have been "unpredictable, tougher and more challenging."

In Beijing, a man told us he is concerned about some Obama policies toward Taiwan and China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors. And in Nairobi, one man could only talk about how happy he is.

“As his original, biological father was a Kenyan, we are so happy as Kenyans. So we are so happy. All night we were watching what was going on there, and we are so happy,” said the man in Nairobi.

Analysts say Obama may be able to take a stronger stance on some foreign issues in his second term. Foreigners watching the U.S. election were hoping that whether the same or different, the president’s second-term policies would be good for them.  

  • Oh Se-hyek, a North Korean defector, said "It is difficult to choose which candidate to favor. But it seems like the U.S. is good at carrying out policy consistently under Obama, especially towards North Korea." (Y. Kim/VOA) 
  • Kim Su-yeon, a student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea, said "I cast a virtual vote for Obama because his policies match my personal interest and political stance. " (Y. Kim/VOA)
  • Tony Guzman, a 31-yr old American, voted early in California before arriving in Manila, Philippines. He voted for Obama and said "His economic plan makes a lot more sense" and he likes his stance on social issues. (S. Orendain/VOA)
  • Derek Obryan, a 21-year old Philippine-American attending university in Manila, Philippines said he likes Mr. Obama "for the fact that he's trying to change and set a different [example] for the world." (S. Orendain/VOA)
  • Jane Lien, a Taiwanese-American Peace Corps volunteer ending her term this week in the Philippines. She voted for Obama and said "It's hard for me to imagine our country being run by Romney." (S. Orendain/VOA)
  • Fadli Zon, the vice chairman of the Gerindra Party in Indonesia, said "With Obama there’s a sentiment. I can see the shift in opinion between the Bush and Obama administrations.” (S. Schonhardt/VOA)
  • Ima Abdulrahim, executive director of the Habibie Center, a liberal think-tank in Jakarta, Indonesia, said “An Obama win is better for Asia." (S. Schondart/VOA)
  • Mohammad Ashraf Kashawaz, a singer in Kabul, Afghanistan said "I like Obama, he knows he serves his country, and he not only thinks about his country, he also thinks about Afghanistan." (S. Behn/VOA)
  • Mohamed Abu Roob, an optician in Jerusalem's Old City said at the beginning of Obama's first term the Palestinians were encouraged and thought he would do something about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But nothing happened. (S. Bobb/VOA)
  • Ruth Harif, an Israeli homemaker, said about the U.S. election "Tragedy. It's an absolute tragedy. I have two daughters, two grandsons living in America and I have been following very carefully what Obama has been up to." (S. Bobb/VOA)
  • Charles Ngigi, a bishop in Nairobi, Kenya congratulated Americans for showing maturity in democracy. "The lose[r] conceded defeat immediately, which brought peace." (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • Daniel Orenge, an attorney in Nairobi, Kenya said "I would say Kenyans would love to see Obama visit Kenya one time, preferably very soon." (G. Joselow)
  • Farouk Abou el Gheit,a pharmacist in Cairo, Eygpt said "When [Obama] came to Cairo he gave a very good speech...but nothing was implemented." (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Wahid Ahmed Fouad, a shop assistant in Cairo, Egypt, said "To a great extent, he ended terrorism on the Arab world's level." (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Mervat Mohammed, a housewife in Cairo, Egypt, said "[Obama] deals with Arabs and Muslims with respect." (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Mahmoud, a doorman in Cairo, Egypt, said "[Obama] could help Egypt. He's a good man, and Egypt likes him...He is loved in Cairo." (Y. Weeks/VOA)

VOA reporters in Beijing, Cairo, Jerusalem, Kabul, Kyiv, Moscow and Nairobi contributed to this report.

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