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US Presidential Election Spurs Global Interest

  • Mandy Clark

With just days to go before the U.S. presidential election, people around the world have been following the race with growing interest. And as Mandy Clark reports from London, Democratic Senator Barack Obama seems to be the overwhelming favorite, especially in Europe, compared to Republican Senator John McCain.

With a few clicks of a button, people from around the world are voting on who should be the next American president. The British magazine, The Economist, set-up an online global poll to let every country have a say. The result: most are backing Barack Obama. Political analyst, Robin Sheppard, says the findings are revealing.

"There is an enormous, almost insatiable appetite for Barack Obama to win this election," Sheppard said. "Very few places on the planet are backing John McCain. If European leaders don't physically dance in the fountains then I think, figuratively speaking, this is the reaction you will be seeing."

But he says the love affair with Senator Obama abroad is more of a rejection of President Bush.

"It is not so much in support of Obama, it is a reflection of the last eight years of Bush. In Europe, politics and religion are supposed to be separate and the Bush administration very much mixed up the two and that got a lot of people worried and very angry too," he said.

The opinion is widespread. Oxford University has educated 25 British prime ministers. Here politics play a central role in student life. Jacob Turner is already involved with politics - with the Oxford University Labor Club - supporting Britain's ruling political party. He says what happens in America matters to Britain.

"It is Britain's closest ally and looks like it will continue to be so, there is firstly that on the broadly emotional grounds, secondly America is the most powerful country in the world so anything that America does, at least in the next few years, will have a tremendous effect on Britain. So economically, as well as socially and politically we are linked," he said.

And if he could vote?

"It would be Obama," he said.

On the streets of Britain most share that view.

"Barack Obama," said one man.

Agreeing with him, one woman said, "Yes, same here, Barack Obama."

"Definitely Obama, without a question," said another man.

Polls in Europe reflect these views, though surveys elsewhere - such as in Israel - show Senator McCain drawing strong support. Charlie Beckett, an international relations expert at the London School of Economics, says there is a reason why Obama has so much support abroad.

"Everyone likes the idea of idealism and the idea of change and beyond that I think that they do sense that with Obama there would be a different relationship with the rest of the world," he says.

If the world had its way, it would seem Senator Obama would easily win the election but Americans are the ones who will vote Tuesday and everyone else will have to watch and wait.