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Barack Obama's re-election reverberates far beyond US borders — so much so that citizens of some distant nations, like Pakistan and Turkey, say they too should have been able to vote. To give them a voice, GlobalPost interviewed people around the world for their views on the United States and who they hoped would win the election.

What Obama's win means to the rest of the world

Most people around the globe are happy that Barack Obama won, but the thrill they felt in 2008 has faded.

BOSTON, Mass. — It wasn't only Americans who were glued to their TV sets, watching election returns trickle in on Tuesday night. The world was watching too.

And while in most places people were glad that President Barack Obama won, they weren't really partying like it was 2008. From Israel to Venezuela and Hong Kong to Canada, GlobalPost found very mixed feelings.

One only has to look at Twitter to see how closely the world is following US politics. Some in fact wish they had their own say in the decisions made by the United States, which they feel has an enormous impact on their daily lives.

As part of GlobalPost's in-depth series, US Election: If the world could vote, our broad network of correspondents spoke to ordinary citizens everywhere.

Here's what they found.

 

HONG KONG

The emotions in China weren’t all that different from the crowds cheering in downtown Chicago.

When news of President Barack Obama’s re-election hit mainland China, thousands of Chinese netizens celebrated and offered their congratulations.

“My warmest congratulations to Obama for being re-elected. How great is the democracy of the United States, foe of tyrants, the land of liberty. May its universal values enlighten the world,” wrote one user in Anhui province.

By the middle of the afternoon, Obama’s victory was the most discussed item on Sina Weibo, racking up nearly 25 million posts.

After a campaign that featured unprecedented use of China as a rhetorical punching bag, many Chinese were simply relieved. Indeed, analysts expect few major shifts in US-China relations during Obama’s second term.

“US policy towards China will not change significantly,” writes Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai.

In official media, the American election was downplayed as something of a sideshow to China’s main political event: the once-a-decade transition of power that begins this Thursday in Beijing.

Still, the election allowed Chinese citizens to draw a comparison between the two country's systems. While America’s election featured vigorous, open, often messy debates, China's 18th Party Congress has been surrounded with secrecy. Beijing has been put on lockdown, with taxis required to lock their windows to prevent the distribution of political materials, and the internet has slowed to a crawl.

Benjamin Carlson (follow @bfcarlson)

 

ISRAEL

JERUSALEM — Israel responded on America’s election night as if it were the 51st state: with obsessive and possessive attention all night long, analyses of the electoral college, and even some rumpled musing about misleading pundits. 

The fact that Israelis don't vote in the US election seemed entirely immaterial.

More from GlobalPost: Obama wins, Netanyahu loses

Summing up the results, Razi Barkai, one of a dozen Israeli news anchors who were sent to cover the election, said he has heard from "people close to Obama" that the president believes it was an error not to visit Jerusalem when he embarked on his much-discussed speech in Cairo four years ago.

That ghost visit, and the lack of overt attention paid to Israel in the past four years, is a matter of some prickly feelings in Israel, where Obama supporters often feel their backs are to the wall. At a party hosted by US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, Uri Zaki, the director of the American branch of the Israeli human rights organization Betselem, and a man sporting a Hebrew language Obama button, said, "Israel is a purple state."

In an interview with Israel Army Radio, former American ambassador to Israel Martin Indyck said, "It was a great night for the president, obviously, and for all of us."

Noga Tarnopolsky (follow @NTarnopolsk)

 

EGYPT

CAIRO — Many Egyptians expressed support for and satisfaction with Obama’s victory at the polls.

On Twitter and in the streets, they congratulated Americans on the results, and some hailed Obama’s “Muslim heritage.”

“Romney's biggest flaw is his disregard for minorities, especially Muslims,” read a tweet from Egyptian Twitter user, Fatima Mohamed, which was posted in Arabic.

But some Cairo residents simply shrugged at the news, and went about their day.  

There remains a deeply-ingrained skepticism toward US policy in the Middle East, which Egyptians say overemphasizes Israeli security and withholds support for democratic forces.

Many here, as elsewhere, are disappointed with Obama’s failure to pressure Israel to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians — and for expanding the use of drones to fight America’s enemies abroad.

“It’s irrelevant. [US] foreign policy towards the Middle East has never changed,” said Hisham Kassem, an independent publisher here.

Egypt’s traditionally stable relationship with the United States has transformed since a popular uprising toppled former Egyptian president and US ally, Hosni Mubarak, in 2011.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney did garner some support among those Egyptians who want to see the United States take a tougher stance against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

But large swathes of the Egyptian population are still soured by the military bravado of the Republican Party under former US President George W. Bush.  

“Republicans tend to be more nosey than Democrats, so it’s likely they would meddle a lot more,” said 26-year-old Egyptian activist, Wael Eskander. “Romney would be scary because of his hostility towards Islamists.”

Erin Cunningham (follow @erinmcunningham)

 

KENYA

KOGELO — The crowd gathered here erupted in celebration — arms in the air, grinning, hugging and dancing — when CNN called the election for Barack Obama.

Kogelo is home to the Kenyan branch of Obama’s far-flung family, a small village that has gotten a lot of attention thanks to its famous son. Obama is popular across Kenya, but nowhere more than in Kogelo, a place that has only recently been connected with electricity and a paved road.

As Americans cast their votes on Tuesday, people here braved the rain and power cuts to hope for and eventually celebrate an Obama victory.

Speaking an hour after her step-grandson was elected to a second term, Sarah Onyango Obama, wearing a voluminous, brightly colored outfit and surrounded by family, friends and neighbors, congratulated the man who calls her “granny.”

“It is by the grace of God that Barack has made it and become the president of the United States for the second term,” she said, with one of her sons, Sayid, by her side.

Africans have criticized Obama for not paying more attention to the continent, in which his father was born, during his first term. Against expectations, Africa never featured prominently on his foreign policy agenda. He made just one fleeting visit to Ghana early in his presidency.

But Mama Sarah said all that was fine.

“We cannot be bitter. He was doing his job in the place where he is supposed to be working, he was delivering where he was supposed to be delivering and therefore could not be malingering everywhere,” she said to laughs from the crowd gathered at her family home on the outskirts of the village.

Tristan McConnell (follow @t_mcconnell)

 

MEXICO

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Many here breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday night as the result of the US presidential election was broadcast across the country.

“There is some hope for North Americans and the rest of the world,” Mexico City-based journalist Adriana Ferreira told GlobalPost after President Barack Obama was declared the winner.

Raul Correa, a Spanish language teacher in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, relished the moment. “I’m happy. Thank God,” Correa said in a text message to GlobalPost.

His comments were echoed by Manfred Meiners, a photographer in Guadalajara. “It’s a relief to know that Obama won!” Meiners told GlobalPost via Facebook.

Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto also sent his congratulations to Obama.

“Congratulations President Barack Obama for your re-election,” Pena Nieto tweeted. “The citizens have shown renewed confidence in you.”

At least two voter surveys in recent weeks showed about 60 percent of Mexicans would have supported Obama if they had been allowed to vote.

That is not to say Mexicans think he has been an outstanding president. Quite the opposite.

A BGC-Excelsior poll this week found that a majority of those questioned thought Obama had done little or nothing to improve the situation of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States, combat drug cartels and improve trade relations with Mexico.

Still, Obama is widely viewed as a much better option than his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Ferreira summed up the feeling among many Mexicans.

“Obama is OK, but he is not the best. But Romney is the worst,” she said.

Despite his family’s Mexican origins, Romney is deeply unpopular here, in part because he has distanced himself from his ancestral connections to the country — a disconnect that’s viewed suspiciously by the Mexican media and public.

The election result dominated local news websites.

Mexican newspaper El Universal carried the simple headline “Obama won,” while Milenio’s front page said, “Obama achieves historic re-election.”

About the loser, Milenio tweeted: “Mitt Romney a successful career culminated in a painful defeat.”

Other results Tuesday likely to draw strong support from many Mexicans — except the drug cartels — are groundbreaking moves in Colorado and Washington, where voters passed referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Supporters of the amendments here argue the changes could put a dent in the profits of drug cartels, which have been responsible for the escalation in mass-murders, kidnappings and extortions across the country.

Allison Jackson (follow @allison_mexico)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/elections/121107/obama-wins-world-reaction-foreign-policy