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Date:  20001121


Kathleen J. Brahney, Branch Chief Media Reaction, (202) 619-6511
Ann Pincus, Director
Archived at:

Tuesday, November 21, 2000


Noting that "hundreds of millions of eyes" are watching to find out what will happen next, commentators from every corner of the globe continued to weigh in heavily on the deadlocked U.S. presidential election. Views again diverged on whether Election 2000 is a demonstration of U.S. democracy at its zenith or its nadir. Critics--increasing in number--expressed dismay that the "much-vaunted" U.S. electoral process has produced such uncertainty and appears to be headed toward a drawn-out legal battle. Many believed that the reputation of the U.S. as a "model country of democracy" has been "damaged." Other observers, however, found much to admire in America's current exercise to select its next president. They were encouraged that the system provides an orderly, peaceful, legal solution for a closely contested race--setting an example that others can only hope to follow. Meanwhile, a few prognosticators were split on whether Vice President Gore or Governor Bush would prevail in the protracted contest. Other opinionmakers expressed little preference for either candidate. Following are regional highlights:

EUROPE: Many editorialists--from across the political spectrum--held that whoever enters the White House at this point does so "only as damaged goods." They warned that having a 43rd president with questionable "legitimacy" will not only have a deleterious effect on the U.S. domestically, but will harm the superpower's standing in the world. Some nations, as evidenced by media in Kyrgyzstan, have begun to ask: "Are 'international standards' [regarding elections] applicable only to [us], or to the U.S. also?" But other media voices in France, Germany, Italy and Spain were more positive. Madrid's conservative La Razon was the most succinct: "No other country can present a more complete model of liberty.... The Florida problem has been dealt with as one does in a civil society: through laws and courts."

ELSEWHERE: Impatient with the tortured legal debate underway in Tallahassee, media in Canada and Latin America predicted the process would leave "the losing camp...feeling cheated" and U.S. society "polarized." Others in Latin America stressed the irony of the U.S.' state of "electoral confusion," yet some Brazilian papers viewed the division between America's "two extremes" as "essential" to the progress of democracy. Most Asian papers worried that continued legal haggling and "confusion" over the election results put U.S. leadership in doubt and might result in "worldwide chaos." Taking note of stock market jitters, Tokyo's financial Nihom Keizai observed: "It appears that even China and Myanmar are casting a scornful look at the vote-recounting snafu, which has considerably damaged U.S. prestige." Arab media mostly judged the election to be a "farce because of two incompetent characters," and U.S. democracy a "a lie and a scandal." African opinion was more mixed. Those quick to gloat that "the mother of all democracies" had "lost quite a bit of moral high ground" disagreed with others who defended or admired the American model for being--as one of Pretoria's dailies put it--"a damn sight better than anything around here."

A Ugandan paper further mused that "it is a hyena's mirth that the U.S. 2000 election was an indictment of democracy itself."

EDITORS: Diana McCaffrey and Irene Marr

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 48 reports from 27 countries November 17-21. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.



"The More The Wrangling Goes On, The Less Attractive The White House"

The liberal Guardian had this op-ed essay (11/21) by columnist Hugo Young: "Bush can make it to the White House only as damaged goods. He will have neither the votes nor the mandate of a plurality, which every other president since 1836 has had.... Gore didn't win the election in the way he had every chance of doing. He could take with him into oblivion the moral victory of the popular vote. But there comes a time when victory by lawyers, with lawyers, for barely half the people, is not worth having--and that time is probably going to be this week."

FRANCE: "A Tribute To The American People"

Dominique Bromberger aired this comment on government-funded France Inter radio (11/20): "We can make fun of just about everything in this recent U.S. election.... But we cannot make fun of the American people.... Not only have they shown extraordinary patience, but they have also expressed their total faith in the system.... The important thing for Americans is to have accurate results, not quick ones.... No one would ever suggest that under similar conditions, France would act with such restraint.... In France, when we don't like an election result, we change the law. In the United States, the law and the rule of law are sacred."

"A False Crisis"

Charles Lambroschini opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/20): "The American system has proven it is too strong to be seriously shaken.... This optimism is rooted in...the U.S. Constitution...and in the fact that the Founding Fathers thought of everything.... But mostly, it is the similarity of the two candidates and their almost identical programs, which sustain this optimism. The victory by one or the other of the candidates will not trigger any major changes." "Illegitimate"

Patrick Sabatier held in left-of-center Liberation (11/20): "The two candidates are close to crossing a point of no return, when their electoral battle turns into a real political crisis.... The worst may in fact already have been done. In the eyes of the American people, their 43rd president will be a usurper. If it is Bush, his legitimacy will be questioned because he did not gather the majority of the popular vote.... If Gore wins, the opposition will question his legitimacy, basing his victory on ballot trafficking and legal arguments....

Whoever it is, the next president will be a lame duck.... Every day that passes reduces the stature of the next U.S. president...including in the eyes of the world."

GERMANY: "Counting Until Paralysis Sets In"

Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger noted in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/21): "It is possible to celebrate the epilogue to the U.S. presidential election as a triumph of American democracy in which every vote counts, and every ballot is counted with civic gravity as the law demands. But the more time passes, and the more the courts become involved in a matter that is being corroded by the bile of party conflict and dubious attempts to alter the outcome, the more difficult it will be for the new president to dispel doubts about his legitimacy.... Be it Gore or Bush, the 43rd U.S. president faces hard times ahead.... The danger is growing daily, week by week, that the next two years will have to be written off as a dead loss."

"The Never-Ending U.S. Election"

Stefan Kornelius noted in an editorial in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/20): "The United States is cultivating a political style which almost triggers fear in Europe. The radicalism, the brutality of the legal maneuvering, and the cold-blooded partiality are alien to Europeans who have been condemned to embrace consensus and create coalitions. However, the high TV ratings and the Americans' remarkable interest in their domestic spectacle should not distract from the fact that the majority of U.S. citizens rejects the blood hunt as a political tool."

"Two Losers"

Jens Muenchrath commented in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (11/20): "The fact that U.S. judges apparently have to decide the presidential race is not scandalous. After all, it is the essence of a democratic state that courts represent the final authority in a political fight. What is scandalous, however, is the way in which both candidates politicize the legal battle. Suits are being filed to win time. Judges are being pressured in public. Bush is letting his lawyers oppose a hand count, even though Florida's election law demands such an approach. Gore, on the other hand, is using the justice system to boost his strategy of counting for as long as it takes to make him the winner. All of this is made worse by the fact that...many judges take office by being elected, practically as candidates of the two political parties."

ITALY: "For First Time In 20 Years, U.S. Not At Ease"

Marcello Foa, foreign affairs editor of leading, conservative Il Giornale, front-paged this comment (11/21): "Public opinion does not seem any longer sure that America is the country in the best shape in the world. And this is so not only because they still don't know who their president will be. And not even because they discovered the limits of their electoral system.... The most immediate impact regards the soul of the country.... Accustomed as they are to judging the world and giving it lessons of democracy, the American people discover now that the rest of the world is making fun of the United States.... Tthis is the first time in 20 years that America is not at ease.... This is why it is important for us to monitor American public opinion morale.... The violent swings of the NASDAQ and the Dow Jones represent a warning for both Bush and Gore. Because at stake is not only the White House."

"Democracy Live On TV"

Vittorio Zucconi's filed from Washington in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/21): "While those seven judges ponder and decide, everywhere there are signs of a banana republic-like degeneration in Florida.... As time goes by, every day real worms are coming out from under the rocks of the electoral process, while the children's trust in the American family vacillates and the stock market collapses."

"Who Is Afraid Of The American Crisis?"

An analysis by prominent foreign affairs commentator Aldo Rizzo in centrist, influential La Stampa held (11/20): "The first indication we can draw from this sensationally anomalous election is that the political life of the United States, notwithstanding the latter's current international responsibilities, has not been upset. In sum 'business as usual.'... The reaction of the external world (including Italy) to the long and unexpected American 'impasse' has been instead more anxious and nervous. Basically two trends have emerged.... The first reaction has been a mixture of criticism and relief: Criticism of the United States as the model of democracy...and relief given the fact that it is no longer true that we can only learn from big America. Clearly this attitude hides an old anti-American 'tic.'... The second reaction is exactly the opposite: Nothing has happened, this is just an example of democracy."

RUSSIA: "Farce"

Boris Volkhonsky reported in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (11/21): "The Florida Supreme Court met in session yesterday to decide whether or not the recount of votes by hand should continue. If the judges (all of them appointed by Democrats) follow the law, Governor George Bush may be declared the United States' 43rd president today. If not, the comedy will drag on until December. The recount of votes in Florida increasingly looks like a farce, according to most Americans."

"It's Not Who, It's How"

Nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (11/21) ran this by L. Nikolayev: "Both the Democrats and Republicans, locked in a struggle for power, seem to forget that hundreds of millions of eyes are following them closely, with ordinary Americans wishing to know not WHO will become their next president but HOW this is going to happen, and with foreigners making their conclusions about the much-vaunted American system of democracy."

"Winner Known By Now"

Yevgeny Antonov stated on page one of reformist Vremya Novostei (11/20): "Basically, the winner (of the election) is already known.... The name of the U.S.' 43rd president is George Walker Bush. Unofficially, he leads Al Gore by as many as 900 odd votes now, so the Democrat practically has no chance. But the Gore people are doing their utmost to delay the defeat."

AUSTRIA: "Only Half Of Population Can Be Satisfied"

Foreign affairs writer Norbert Mayer opined in mass-circulation Kurier (11/21): "The election outcome only pretends to be balanced--U.S. policy is currently not particularly homogenous. This is why the judges--no matter how they decide--will satisfy only a small minority. The offended other half senses treachery; there will be collateral damage for the political and the justice systems. Which blameless citizen, who has still some common sense, will be willing to work for an election committee in the future? Only Hollywood and the media can be happy about the thrilling scripts that will come out of the duel over the White House."

"Damaged America"

Foreign affairs writer Burkhard Bischof commented in conservative Die Presse (11/20): "The winner...will have to rule with the flaw of being a president who was elected only after a fiasco.... The reputation of the United States, the model country of democracy, suffered damage after this election.... America, its institutions and its image in the world, has lost a few feathers."

BELGIUM: "A Stolen Presidency?"

Philippe Paquet editorialized in independent La Libre Belgique (11/20): "The only objective reality, which could end the never-ending judicial fights, is the indisputable lead--200,000 votes--of Mr. Gore at the national level. But this is an argument which will probably not be sufficient to convince Mr. Bush to renounce a stolen presidency."

HUNGARY: "Infinite Recounting"

In conservative Magyar Nemzet, foreign affairs writer Csaba Csontos commented (11/20): "On Friday night the world started to believe that the vote recounting circus would soon be coming to an end....

"The question arises what is the campaign team of Gore hoping for and why doesn't it give up?"

KYRGYZSTAN: "Lessons Of The American Contest"

In a front page article, government-owned Kyrgyz Tuusu held (11/17): "We thought we could learn fairness and democracy from America. But instead of studying their own 'special case' [the election], the U.S. Congress criticized Kyrgyz democracy [Resolution 397].

Now we see that there are cunning persons there too. Election a la America has demonstrated that clearly. So, dear opposition, let's don't look only overseas."

"Deficient Critic"

Usen Kasybekov commented in government-owned Kyrgyz Tuusu (11/17): "The great American democracy has stumbled this time. Stumbled with shame. A blot has fallen on unblemished democracy. American pro-governmental press spreads the opinion that the election testifies to the strength of democracy, that the recount of ballots demonstrates a concern about every voter's opinion. Al Gore explained that he trusted CNN [when he initially conceded to Bush]. So, we can conclude that even the advanced American media makes many mistakes. The question arises: Are 'international standards' that the OSCE and NDI request us to follow, applicable only to Kyrgyzstan, or to the United Sates also? We ourselves have democrats who can teach the United States."

NORWAY: "U.S. Democracy Challenged"

Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten argued (11/20): "Many strong adjectives and nouns are being used to describe the election process (in Florida and in the United States as a whole by the Norwegian media). We should entrust the Americans to make us of these adjectives and nouns.... However, for too many Americans the word 'democracy' seems like Greek to them."


"A Pretext For Visceral Anti-Americanism"

Conservative La Razon commented (11/19): "The electoral mishap and court actions have been the pretext for the appearance of visceral anti-Americanism in a good part of Spanish society.... Many have forgotten that the United States is the oldest democracy, and was so even while we had to suffer absolutism and dictatorships.... No other country can present a more complete model of liberty...which has inspired European legislation and practice. And the Florida problem has been dealt with as one does in a civil society: through laws and courts."

TURKEY: "Wary Days Ahead"

Hasan Cemal opined in mass-appeal Milliyet (11/21): "The debate over ongoing hand counts or machine counts is probably leading the United States toward a serious constitutional crisis.... In the days ahead, due to the weakness of authority in White House and the division into two camps, the situation might help the interest groups, the lobbies to become stronger than ever before. That means, Greek and Greek Cypriot lobbies, the Armenian lobby and the Kurdish lobby...will have louder voices before the new president. If so, Turkey will experience hard times.... America is about to face domestic challenges.... We had better watch the United States closely...while we make our moves in other areas, particularly in the EU."

"Never-Ending U.S. Elections"

Hasan Cemal wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (11/19): "The doomsday scenario was at least postponed until the Florida court makes its ruling. But in the meantime the very small difference between Gore and Bush votes grew larger....

"It is still unknown whether hand counts will be considered as part of the election results and whether the Florida court decision will be the final one.... Yet there may be another question to ask: Is the U.S. presidential election really that important? It seems it is. Whether you like it or not, the political and economic stability of the world's superpower is a concern to the whole world."


EGYPT: "The Presidential Elections Divided The U.S."

Salama Ahmed Salama advised in pro-government Al Ahram (11/21): "Whatever the official result...clearly the presidential elections have divided the United States in two equal halves, expressing great division in American society and a serious rupture in the American election map between Republicans and Democrats. The centrist ideals that prevailed in Clinton's era, called the Third Way, collapsed. Regardless of the theory propagated by Arab writers that Jewish votes are the reason for encouraging Gore to dispute Bush's victory...we should admit that Arab narcissism (believing that the Arab-Israeli dispute should have an impact on the American elections) is exaggerated. In any case, those Arabs who applaud Bush's victory should not be overly happy, and those who will be relieved if Gore loses, should not be completely relieved. Neither outcome can return rights to Arabs."

"American Democracy Is A Lie"

Galal Dowidar, editor-in-chief of pro-government Al Akhbar, declared (11/20): "American democracy, with which they have nagged us, has turned into a lie and a scandal after the commotion and exchange of accusations between the presidential candidates.... Now we can say that there is no difference between the leader of the developed world and any Third World country. They all commit election crimes. The only difference is that in the United States they can commit all kinds of crimes without being questioned, while voices many other countries of the world are accused of acting against democracy and human rights.... We are asking it to accept international observers from other countries to watch the elections and vote counting to secure the freedom and honesty of the elections.... Apparently, as I said before, the Jewish lobby chose to intervene strongly, especially after the Democrats nominated a Jew, Lieberman.... Thus, it is not unlikely that the results are amended to favor Gore despite Bush's clear victory from the start."


"An American Case"

Elias Khouri, a commentator in government-owned Al-Ba'th, wrote (11/19): "The U.S. presidential election has turned into a farce because of two incompetent characters.... Both candidates have wasted U.S. prestige."


CHINA: "Election Hangfire Is A Real Dilemma"

Wang Tian wrote in the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 11/20): "The U.S. presidential election this year was like a bizarre political soap opera, keeping the self-styled 'master of democracy' in a real dilemma. The disordered election reflects a psychologically divided America whose citizens do not know what course to take.... Although the United States, depending on its strong economic, scientific and military muscles, may continue to order the rest of the world about arrogantly, its so-called 'democratic electoral system' will be questioned by more and more nations in the world."

JAPAN: "U.S. Responsible For Settling Florida Vote Recounting Snafu"

Business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (11/20): "The continuing legal actions taken over the vote recounting snafu have thrown stock markets into confusion--a move which has already raised a serious concern not just among Americans but in the entire world. It is not the Gore and Bush camps but the American people as a whole that must assume full responsibility for settling the issue. It appears that even China and Myanmar are casting a scornful look at the vote-recounting snafu, which has considerably damaged the U.S. prestige."


"U.S. Democracy Not At Stake"

Zenaida Amador commented in her column in the independent Manila Bulletin (11/18): "I never for one moment thought that U.S. democracy was at stake. Actually the Florida recount added spice to what would have been a sort of a ho-hum election anyway.... I'm sure everything will be resolved in the United States in time for the transition meetings and the inauguration. In the future, however, perhaps the Americans would be wise to change their electoral system into using the popular vote."

SOUTH KOREA: "Confusion Might Result In Worldwide Chaos"

Assistant Foreign News Editor Lee Jang-hoon wrote this op-ed in moderate Hankook Ilbo (11/21): "Following the so-called, 'Cold War Era,' U.S. leadership and responsibility in the international community have become more and more important. In this regard, we worry that confusion caused by this 'out-of- date' [U.S.] Constitution might result in worldwide chaos. If the United States is to be the world leader in the 21st century, the Electoral College system should be abolished, or repaired at least."


BANGLADESH: "Disastrous For Democracy"

The independent, English-language Daily Star ran this article (11/21): "The world expects more from the Americans.... Their investment in building democracy must remain steady and strong. The payoffs are priceless. Let the world see a speedy and peaceful resolution of the presidential election crisis, so that young nations can derive lessons from it for encouraging their own infant democracies."


ETHIOPIA: The Next Presi-World"

The English-language Monitor commented (11/21): "Certainly, neither Bush nor Gore is right--right for America or right for the world. Whoever becomes the president will know that the other one almost succeeded. The voters must have needed the two men equally so the new president will have incorporated some of the policies of his rival. The world today needs American money more than America politics. Therefore, Gore will have to rid his America of its paternalism while Bush may need to soften his 'forget Africa' approach. The missile defense strategy, a reflection of America's recognition of vulnerability will mostly be endorsed by Gore himself, even if it is Bush who is not saying it. Maybe then, America will come to a sort of equal terms with other nations."

SOUTH AFRICA: "U.S. Has Lost Quite A Bit Of Moral High Ground"

Political Editor Ray Hartley opined in the independent Sunday Times (11/19): "Robert Mugabe...has been positively gloating at the failure of the U.S. electoral system to promptly deliver a president.... The country formerly known as the world's foremost democracy has already lost quite a bit of moral high ground.... The United States and Zimbabwe now sit uncomfortably together somewhere on the gray scale of voting irregularity, the difference being one of degree, rather than principle.... The United States may lose much of its ability to preach to despots who want to cook their elections, and a president elected by a minority, should this come to pass, will hardly be an effective advocate of majority rule. Brace yourself for postponed elections, rigged elections and minority rule, all of it justified with a sarcastic swipe at the mother of all democracies."

"Snide Remarks Misplaced"

Martin Williams' column in the conservative Citizen argued (11/21): "Snide remarks about the 'shambles' of the U.S. presidential elections are misplaced... The re-examination of votes in Florida over the past weeks is an example of democracy at work... America is resilient enough to let the contestants exploit all legal avenues to ensure a just outcome.... Their democracy may not be perfect, but it's a damn sight better than anything around here. If only our elections were as closely contested, and the votes as carefully counted."

TANZANIA: "Democracy Is Dead, Long Live Democrats"

The respected, independent regional weekly East African (11/20-26) carried this opinion piece by a Dar es Salaam-based political scientist: "All along, the assumption has been that the Americans have a flair for democracy in the same way the French have a flair for cooking and Africans for drumming. It is now apparent that the Americans regard democracy only as a convenience and not an end in itself.... The Democrats requested a manual count because they figured it would enhance their chances of victory. Similarly, the Republicans have rejected hand-counts because they could turn the tables against them. The point is that neither side made their choice on the basis of the most democratic method.... [On the other hand], Americans may be squabbling over who has won, but at least they have agreed upon procedures through which to fight. When something goes wrong, there are neutral organs to investigate and rectify the situation. Apparently, anybody can corrupt the election process but no one can corrupt the rectification process. This is something Americans can be proud of."

UGANDA: "America Won't Catch Africa Till Dead Men Vote"

The respected, independent regional weekly East African carried this commentary by a Ugandan newspaper editor (11/20-26): "The commonest political jokes around East Africa right now are about the American presidential election. Most suggest that Americans are only now learning from Africans how to 'manage' elections. But there are many of us who do not subscribe to the view that they are quick learners. In fact, they will take very long before they catch up with us, if they ever do. At least one prominent American, the daughter of the late President Kennedy, visited Kenya at the time [of election-related tribal clashes] and when she saw a victim of the clashes, with arrows sticking out of his body, her immediate response was to faint. Can such softies catch up with us in the foreseeable future? As long as these African standards prevail, there is no way the Americans can catch up with us, however hard they try. In Uganda, in the second half of 1996, the largest parliament in its history was voted in.... The dead, the underage and the unborn voted. And who cares, by the famous 'African standards,' that the polls that gave birth to the supreme law-making body were supremely free and fair.

This is one country where the number of registered voters is nearly half the total population (infants, adults and teenagers put together). The Americans will need 1,000 years to beat that record."

"Only A Hyena Can Laugh At The U.S. Poll Debacle"

The independent Sunday Monitor continued discussing U.S. elections in a commentary (11/19): "The problem with America is not its democracy, although of course, they could simplify and standardize their ballot papers and set up a state-of-the-art vote counting machines. But these are mere technicalities. Rather, the problem is with its gross corporate culture, especially its media monsters in this case, its gargantuan appetite for profit and for consumption, and the barely suppressed conviction many Americans hold that planet Earth essentially belongs to them. The results of American democratic practice often fairly accurately reflect these aspects of the nation.... But it is sobering to realize that some of America's attributes would probably afflict any other nation if it acquired so much wealth and so much power.... You can abhor the prospect of either Gore or Bush in the Oval office...but it is a hyena's mirth for those who think that the U.S.' 2000 election was an indictment of democracy itself."



"U.S. Vote Reminder Of Nation Split Along Racial Lines"

Columnist Stephen Handelman wrote in the liberal Toronto Star (11/21): "If Gore finally snatches the presidency, he will owe the White House to African-Americans. The key reason the vote has been so close in Florida is the high black turnout in that state.... The continued racial polarization of American politics confounds political observers, who assumed that as more blacks began entering the middle class their vote would skew more normally between the two major parties. The fact that it hasn't happened says a lot about the continued insecurity felt by African-Americans of all economic groups. The Republicans' attempts to reinvent themselves as a party of diversity, not to mention the presence of high-profile blacks like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice in George Bush's inner circle, fell flat.... Elections have a way of providing answers to questions nobody asked. The African-American vote will remind Washington that a sizeable group of the American electorate feels alienated from the status quo."

"Two Counts Are Enough"

The conservative National Post (11/20) opined: "Because the election was so close, it is inevitable that the losing camp will come out of the process feeling cheated.... Hopefully, the Democrat-dominated Florida Supreme Court will uphold Ms. Harris' ability to reject the results of such an imprecise and biased exercise. If that happens, Democrats will no doubt claim they were the victims of a great injustice. But though such a reaction follows naturally from the specious rhetoric promulgated by Mr. Gore and his campaign team in the last two weeks, it does not follow from the facts."

ARGENTINA: "A Complex Political Saga Which Reminds Of 'Sexgate'"

Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin, wrote (11/21): "After the 'Sexgate' saga which almost put an end to Bill Clinton's presidency in 1998, the new saga this year is that no one knows who will be the next U.S. president because of some partially perforated punch ballots. The world is astonished at the fact that the fate of the presidency of the most powerful country in the world has fallen into the hands of lawyers...for reasons which are seemingly surrealistic. While during 'Sexgate' the suspense was about whether it was legal or not to subject a president to impeachment for having lied about his sexual behavior, the new saga is about how to choose between two presidential candidates...who claim to have won the elections.... If no agreement is reached between the parties, everything ends up to be politically resolved by the U.S. Congress."

"Paradise For Petty Lawyers"

Political analyst Jose Maria Carrascal wrote in independent La Prensa (11/19): "Litigations occur everywhere, in every field and in all directions.... An authentic legal orgy, a paradise for petty lawyers, the elections were turned into a lawsuit. Everyone is requesting instructions to the courts, a logical and sensible thing in principle. The wrong aspect is that the courts are giving contradictory instructions. Judges picked by the Republicans produce rulings which favor the Republican cause, and those chosen by the Democrats try to favor the Democratic Party's cause. The more lawyers there are, the more litigations, confusion and disputes follow.... It is only a matter of time for the lawsuit to reach [the U.S. Supreme Court], unless something really extraordinary occurs, which cannot be ruled out, because these elections have become a box of tricks and surprises. Amidst all this confusion, there is only one thing which is clear: Neither side is ready to yield. On the contrary, everything indicates that they are ready to continue till the end, to win the presidency at any cost."

BRAZIL: "A Dumb Mess"

A byliner by Fernando Pedreira in independent, national Jornal do Brasil explained (11/20): "The idea that votes in the Electoral College may weight more than popular votes...may sound senseless in the eyes of our (Brazilian) brave democrats. It sounds inconsistent in the United States as well...(but) as one can see in the last decades--dominated by such questions as racial discrimination women's emancipation, abortion, welfare reform, etc.--the shock between the two extremes of the American system continues to be an essential reason for the progress of democracy in the country."

"The Truth About The U.S. Election"

Independent, national Jornal da Tarde's editorial read (11/19): "It is a foolish to imagine that there is an institutional crisis in the world's political, military and economic power just because there is the presidential election is undecided. It is really the rest of the world that is anxious in knowing who is going to command the destiny of this major partner and rival. The possibility of fraud in Florida's election is frightening.... The American institutions are old, solid and functional, but behind these institutions there are humans vulnerable to vices, virtues, nobility and meanness. For this election there is not much to do but run out all the possibilities of recounting the votes electronically or manually in Florida, thus avoiding doubts about an eventual victory of Bush.... The American political system needs to find a way of making the registering, collecting and counting of the votes more secure so that there is no doubt about the legitimacy of the individual who will preside over the most powerful nation on the planet."

"The Judges Vote"

Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo held (11/19): "What seemed to be a remote possibility--that the new U.S. president would be decided in court--is now almost a certainty.

Al Gore is apparently winning the communications battle. If in the beginning of the crisis many Americans considered him a poor loser, now a significant portion of the population seems to support him. There is no hurry [to recount the votes].... For an outside observer, this scenario, in which the local sector prevails over the national one, is at the least a strange and confusing way of resolving the problem. However, it is the democratic way, according to which the local communities exert their autonomy and the justice system establishes on a case-by-case basis the weight and the limits of such an autonomy. It is strange, but it works according to the best U.S. democratic tradition."

"The Advantages Of A Divided Superpower"

Prof. Gilberto Dupas, of University of Sao Paulo's Advanced International Studies, commented in a byliner in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (11/18): "The U.S. electoral confusion has divided the hegemonic superpower into two very distinct sides and for the first time in several decades the U.S. people have not succeeded in deciding what would be the best for them."

"The U.S. And Peace"

Liberal Folha de S. Paulo's editorial held (11/18): "Because of his party's tradition and due to personal inclination, George W. Bush, if he is elected president, is expected to adopt more isolationist positions. Obviously as the only superpower, the United States cannot afford adopting a centrist posture, but Bush, for good and bad, would tend to be more moderate in U.S. foreign actions."

ECUADOR: "The Paradoxes Of Democracy"

Andres Mej a Acosta mused in Quito's center-left, influential Hoy (11/20): "I cannot imagine what would have happened if this electoral controversy had occurred within Ecuador's political context. Gore and Bush would definitely have called for long demonstrations of popular support, claiming victory over the disputed results. Once the euphoria of the wee hours ended, both candidates would have flown to Washington, D.C. to violently force their 'right to enter' the White House.... To complete the description of this 'political guernica' the loser would have had to flee the country and seek refuge in some neighboring country to preserve the existence of democracy. I wish this history were only a surreal anecdote, but anyone who has followed closely the political history of Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay or Guatemala, knows with certainty that this is not fiction.... While conflicts are not resolved immediately within a democratic regime, and although some electoral arrangements may allow abnormal results, in the end democracy offers each citizen the certainty that his/her vote and his/her opinion is valued and respected."

"Banana Republic"

Guayaquil's (and Ecuador's) leading, center-right El Universo judged (11/20): "Voters, already reluctant to participate in politics, have seen how their will can be minimized by the effects of an absurd electoral system and have felt manipulated by those responsible for organizing the process. This may be the right moment for the United States to take an attentive look at the recent history of Latin America, where there is a long tradition in delegitimizing its institutions. Ironically, someone has suggested that the OAS should appoint a commission, like those that have operated in various Latin American countries, to supervise electoral processes. As time goes by, that statement loses its ironic tone."

Keywords:  Elections; Presidency; United States/Politics and Government; Florida; Political Parties; Litigation; Democracy
Thematic Codes:  12EL
Languages:  English

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