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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 15:04 GMT
World 'smug' at US fiasco
Brussels Jerusalem Delhi Santisgo Johannesburg

As the world's most powerful democracy still awaits the results of its presidential election, BBC News Online asks correspondents from some of the BBC's key foreign bureaux to summarise the regional reaction to the election fiasco.

Click on the map to read and hear how different parts of the world view America's political troubles.


By James Reynolds in Santiago.

"Latin Power" - that's how one newspaper here in Chile has decided to interpret events in the USA. The newspaper focuses - of course - on the state of Florida and on the influence of its Hispanic population. The feeling being that the Latin vote may have tipped the election one way or another.

Across South America the US election has been looked on with a mix of surprise and perhaps a sense of perverse satisfaction. This has been a pretty turbulent year in this region - Ecuador has had a coup, Bolivia a state of emergency, Paraguay a military uprising and Peru's had a couple of disputed elections of its own.

On each occasion, the United States has weighed in with its opinion. An opinion which has not always been welcome. But now it seems Latin America gets its own back. For once, it gets to criticise chaotic events in the United States.

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By Jill McGivering in Delhi

As the world's largest democracy, India knows a great deal about large scale elections - and their practical difficulties. It also knows how it feels to face international criticism at election time. In the past Indian polls have been dogged by a range of problems from vote buying and vote rigging to election violence.

But the confusion surrounding the result in the United States has given India a chance to hand out advice instead of receiving it - and the general tone here has been one of unmistakeable glee.

One of the main commentators has been India's top election official, Dr M S Gill. Local newspaper reports quoted him as offering Washington some advice on electoral reform - suggesting that the present electoral college system be replaced by one which reflects more closely the overall vote.

Some Indian analysts have also suggested that the United States take a dose of its own medicine in accepting international observers in future elections. One newspaper editorial summarised the reaction by describing the US's problems as a delicious irony.

The country that lectures the world has to hear out the world for a change, it said, whether it's the taxi driver in Nigeria giving a piece of his mind or the Italians calling the superpower a banana republic.

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By Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem.

There's some amusement, bemusement and even satisfaction in Israel that a few hundred Jews from Florida, living in this country, could decide who will be the next President of the USA. Their postal votes may yet prove crucial to the outcome.

The fact that Al Gore's vice-presidential running-mate, Joe Lieberman, is Jewish means that many Israelis may be hoping that the Democrats eventually emerge from this electoral chaos as the winners.

For the same reason, some Palestinians may be distrustful of the Gore ticket.

But there's a growing sense here that whoever is victorious, this issue needs to be resolved soon. Uncertainty in Washington will not help bring the stability which this region so badly needs.

For the Middle East, the main impact of the US election may not be the identity of the next occupant of the White House. Rather, it's likely to be the fact that Bill Clinton will no longer be America's President.

Mr Clinton has played a central role in the Middle East Peace Process. And it's unlikely that either Al Gore or George W Bush would be as engaged in this region's complicated and complex problems.

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By Ishbel Matheson in Johannesburg

The cartoon in Johannesburg's Star newspaper summed it up. Uncle Sam is presiding over a Thanksgiving Dinner, with two turkeys on hand. One is Al Gore. The other George W Bush.

If you ask South Africans, what they think of events in Florida, the most common reaction is: what is it not over yet? There's also some sniggering that the most powerful nation in the world should find itself hamstrung by its own democratic procedures.

Electoral confusion, allegations of fraud, opposition politicians claiming they were robbed of victory, are familiar elsewhere Africa, but not in America.

Some are making the most of their opportunity to crow. The Zimbabwe government - whose recent election was marked by violence and intimidation - has even offered to send their representatives to help.

Some in the States say the current farce shows the strength not the weakness of their democracy. Unfortunately, those who run dubious regimes on this continent, are more likely to draw the lesson that Americans, post-Florida, have little right to lecture the rest of the world.

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By Janet Barrie in Brussels

Europeans are as bemused by the chaotic American election as anyone else. But some European leaders are bemused and embarrassed. Romano Prodi - the President of the European Commission - and Johannes Rau - the German President - were among the first to offer profuse congratualtions to a victorious George W Bush until they realised their warm words were premature.

But there's sympathy too - negotiations on forming coalition governments can take weeks in some European states. There's also hope from some quarters that Al Gore may emerge the winner. Observers say the European Union was prepared for a Bush victory and certainly European leaders had scrupulously avoided stating a public preference.

Privately though many were hoping for a Gore presidency - he's a known entity and the EU would like the continuity with the Clinton administration. They say relations will be good with whoever wins - there's an EU/US summit planned for mid-December - the European Commission spokesman says he expects a winner to be decided by then.

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See also:

14 Nov 00 | Americas
Florida court dashes Gore hopes
13 Nov 00 | Americas
US elections: Your suggestions
14 Nov 00 | Americas
Behind the bias claims
10 Nov 00 | Americas
US papers watch and worry
13 Nov 00 | Americas
Q and A: What's taking so long?
14 Nov 00 | Americas
'Royal succession' for president
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