Living in Italy gave me an opportunity to learn about European politics, but it also gave me an education on American politics, only from their perspective, not The New York Times. For political geeks like me, election year entertainment is wall to wall TV coverage and site to site web reportage. But until I moved to Italy and had lived there for a while, I didn’t realize Europe’s level of interest in U.S. politics, and how significant American elections are and were abroad.
Headlining Italy’s Corriere della Sera is Hillary Clinton’s freefall from favored status. Another major Italian magazine, Panorama, calls Barack “the man to beat in New Hampshire.” France’s Le Figaro leads with “Hillary Clinton in turmoil” and goes on to say (with Google translator’s help):
“The campaign of the former first lady, long time favorite of the Democratic primaries, seems mired in disarray. Officially, her staff ensures that the setback in Iowa hasn’t influenced its plans and that there is no need to change strategy. The emphasis is always on “experience” and to “swallow” the hope embodied by Barack Obama to the rank of perilous adventure”.
Germany’s Der Spiegel explores how populism and fears of a recession have factored into the success of Obama and Edwards—the angry crowd rouser who “speaks with rage” against the existence of the “two Americas.”
I wonder though.
Are these European writers sympathetic to an electorate driven to the polls by 4% unemployment and $3 dollar gas? As mentioned in my book, The Absentee Ballot, as of last year, Italians were paying almost $6 per gallon for unleaded gas. European journalists and their readers suffer taxes, gas-prices and employment rates much higher than populism enthusiasts. American voters who are attracted to the message du jour see a nation filled with problems, while many others around the world see a paradise full of opportunities.
This election is closely followed, not just in the U.S, and is paramount, not only to the American people. It’ll be interesting to watch their reactions to Hillary’s fall, Obama’s rise and whichever Republican gets the nod.