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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.
Most people around the globe are happy that Barack Obama won, but the thrill they felt in 2008 has faded.
LONDON — Four years ago, Europeans greeted Barack Obama's election with jubilation. This time it was relief at the prospect of a more stable world.
French President Francois Hollande hailed Obama's victory as a "clear choice for an open, united America that is totally engaged on the international scene.”
France's left-leaning Liberation daily declared its pleasure by clearing its front page for a photograph of a cheerful Obama and a one-word headline in English: "Yes!"
No longer seeing him as shining beacon of hope, Europeans now see Obama simply as a president who wouldn’t create too many foreign-policy headaches, would work well with Europe's liberal leaders and may offer better prospects for the environment.
"He's a steady hand on the helm," said Keith Ellis, 66, a retired pub landlord from London. "He's pretty well respected around the world and is seen as someone who isn't going to upset the boat. A different president might have been a bit more trigger-happy."
Mark Tiernan, an elementary school teacher from London, took a broader view, cautiously hailing the result as a victory for a planet wary of the hawkish policies many would have expected from Romney.
“The world is a slightly safer place this morning,” he said.
BANGKOK, Thailand — You wouldn’t know it from this race’s campaign rhetoric, but there are Asian countries south of China.
Southeast Asia was largely invisible during this contest despite America’s various and complex entanglements in the region. Even the Obama administration’s biggest development here — cracking the shell of Myanmar’s ruling inner circle and ending a long spell of sanctions — elicited scant attention on the campaign trail.
The region didn’t offer any compelling issues on par with Chinese competition or would-be Iranian nukes.
But for Southeast Asians, Obama’s re-election at least offers a sense of continuity. Poor villagers in the region can cite Obama’s name while even college grads may be stumped if asked to name his Republican rival.
That continuity counts among big wigs as well.
Even before his re-election, Obama had promised to attend a major political pow wow, the East Asia Summit, held in late November in Cambodia. According to Bangkok-based political analyst Kavi Chongkittavorn, that trip may see a momentous Obama stopover in Myanmar, formerly titled Burma, a nation classified as an “outpost of tyranny” by the State Department in the recent past.
In an November op-ed, Kavi writes that, for the most part, “Obama has developed a close rapport” with Southeast Asian leaders. That trip is now secured and Obama is free to fly here and further rack up credibility points with Southeast Asian leaders.
But, so far, Southeast Asian heads of state have diplomatically strayed from taking sides.
Most are offering pat statements insisting they are “ready to work closely with whoever is the choice of the American people,” as the Philippine president’s office put it. A senior Philippine senator, Ralph Recto, added via the Philippine Inquirer that America, in its next term, will continue to “push for their interests and not our interests.”
Indonesia’s Jakarta Post, in the hours after Obama’s win, also sounded a similar note in an op-ed:
“Relations have had their ups and downs during both Democratic and Republican presidencies but there has not been a strategic shift ... there will be no major change in relations between the two democratic nations.”
NEW DELHI — India's popular reaction to Obama's re-election ranged from jubilation to disbelief.
“The general perception of him is favorable,” said Ayush Prasad, a 24-year-old student. “Many of us aspire to have leaders like Obama in India, because he's a person who thinks, and is introspective. He's a person who does what he thinks is right.”
India's major television networks were outsourced for election day, with NDTV turning its feed over to ABC, Times Now channeling CBS, and Headlines Today showing Al Jazeera.
Unlike Wall Street, traders on India's Dalal Street were happy with the Obama victory, as they expected Romney's budget cuts to precipitate a liquidity crunch that would have starved Indian markets of inflows from US institutional investors, according to the Times of India.
The benchmark Sensex received a welcome boost from the poll results.
Meanwhile, India's foreign policy establishment was pulling for Obama, due to uncertainty about Romney's stance on Iran and China.
“While Romney may also have been all right for us,” said former Indian foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, “there would have been perhaps some concerns ... that a Romney administration could have precipitated some military action against Iran, might have been too receptive to Israel's concerns and policies, and his tougher postures toward China might have confronted us with more difficult choices.”
On the other hand, though Obama's early moves as president worried New Delhi, he has modulated his stance on Kashmir, and drifted away from Pakistan.
CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez has done much to court his counterpart in the US, Barack Obama, since the just re-elected president first came to power four years ago.
Chavez hailed him as a "good guy," just a few weeks ago, adding that his vote would go to Obama if that were possible. It was a far cry from Chavez's relationship with Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, whom the Venezuelan strongman famously described as "the devil" at the United Nations in 2006.
Still, even the ideologue that is Chavez on the eve of Tuesday's election saw some pragmatism, as he spoke on state television.
"From our point of view, we don't have much hope that either [Romney or Obama] will make important changes in relation to the US' worldview, with Latin America or with Venezuela. This is thanks to the backwardness of the extreme right in the US," Chavez said.
Venezuelans broadly back Obama. "Much better that Obama won than the other guy," says Gloria Torres in her Caracas slum. "At least Obama will respect Venezuelan sovereignty."
"Obama is working for the people just like Chavez," a supporter of the Venezuelan president told GlobalPost in a barrio surrounded by murals of leftist leaders such as Che Guevara.
However, on the extreme right, there are those in Venezuela, the wealthy who are known to call Chavez a "monkey" and spend their weekends shopping in Miami. They have such hatred for their president that their enemy's enemy becomes their friend. And so Mitt Romney does not lack support among them.
"Romney named Chavez in his manifesto; Obama didn't," another Venezuelan said while having breakfast in a posh hotel. "Obama has closed his eyes to the problem."
KELOWNA, British Columbia — Daniel Roukema, a 41-year-old public relations professional in Toronto, was connecting with friends around the world all night through Facebook, hanging off updates until the networks finally called the election for Barack Obama.
“It was a great night, an exciting and somewhat nail-biting experience,” he told GlobalPost in an interview.
“Four years ago, Canada stopped to watch Obama, the Democrats and the US make history. Tonight, Canada held its breath, not for history, but simply because we felt the stakes were very high," he said late Tuesday night. "An Obama administration would stay the course while a President Romney could jeopardize the very fragile economic recovery Canada is experiencing.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, touring India on a trade mission, offered his congratulations shortly after Mitt Romney’s concession speech, which came in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
“I look forward to working with the Obama administration over the next four years to continue finding ways to increase trade and investment flows between our countries,” he said, highlighting his desire to see “transportation and security infrastructure necessary to take bilateral commercial relations to new heights.”
Then there is the Sun News Network — or "Fox News North" to its critics.
A network staunchly conservative and no stranger to controversy, broadcaster Brian Lilley’s editorial “Welcome to Obamageddon” paints the Democratic victory as "nothing short of disaster" for Canada’s economy.
“I shudder to think what this president, one promised to fundamentally transform America, will do in a second term knowing that he never needs to face voters again,” Lilley wrote.
The average Canadian, though, was very pleased with the result.
They were happy to follow along on Twitter with the CBC — Canada’s national broadcaster — and its #USvoteCBC hashtag.
The majority of tweets gushed about Obama’s charm.
Stefania Alessandra, from Guelph, Ontario, wrote:
Looking forward to what Obama has to say. Always gracious, always humble. #USvoteCBC
— Stefania Di Brita (@stefania_z) November 7, 2012
And, as you’d expect from a nation famous for its manners, there was sympathy for Romney. Marc Perrot of Paradise, Newfoundland, said:
— Marc Perrot (@marcperrot) November 7, 2012