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Norwegian view of U.S. presidential elections

by Siv Palm, staff writer


When the American people elect their new president in November, they also elect the leader of the world’s remaining super power. This makes the election important not only to residents of the United States, but to the whole world, and especially to America’s allies.


One of these allies is Norway, a small country in northern Europe with approximately 4.5 million inhabitants. Norway and America have been friends since before America won its independence, and more Norwegian than any other people, except the Irish, have immigrated to the United States, when actual population size is taken into account. Norway received Marshall Aid after World War II, and was among the first countries to sign up for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Norway has for a long time relied its national security on support from America. Because of these close ties, and the feeling that Norway’s own national security is at risk in this election, it is followed closely by Norwegian media.

The choice is presented to be between the man with the European temper, John Kerry, and the man with the American temper George W. Bush.

In this case temper refers to the kind of action each candidate prefers. Kerry is a solemn-looking man who gives the impression of being a good listener. He wants to revive diplomacy and give the U.N. the role of world leader. This is something Europeans like.

Europe is far from homogenous, but what the countries have in common is a certain political temper. While the United States has existed for some 150 years, these countries have been around for millennia. They remember their history and take great pride in it, but it has also made them cautious about making enemies. For example, the Balkan war in the 1990’s outraged everybody in Europe. Genocide and concentration camps one hadn’t been seen since Hitler, and Serbian actions caused a storm of protests. Something needed to be done, someone needed to do something. Political pressure mounted, and committees were formed, but time passed and very little was actually done until America got involved. The Europeans talk, America acts. That is the saying, and history proves it right.

More than 90 percent of Norwegian journalists vote for parties on the far left. This basically means that there are few, if any, journalists in Norway who are pro-Bush. He is being portrayed, not just in Norway but in most of Europe, as a less-intelligent, too-swift decision maker, and something of a loose cannon.

World peace is at stake, the papers are saying, and the Americans are going to let this dumb guy have his way again. But how dumb can he really be? How is it possible that both father and son could be presidents of the last remaining superpower, with a population of 300 million, if IQ is missing from the gene pool?

Norwegians do not understand why Bush is leading in the election polls. They have been listening to Michael Moore who gets more press than the candidates do stands on political issues. To Europeans Moore’s facts are neither as scandalous nor as new as they are to Americans. Key numbers have been proven wrong, but the media keep repeating Moore’s homemade propaganda, and Norwegians are getting scared. As Americans are frightened by the Bush political machine raising images of terrorist actions happening before the election, Norwegians are frightened by the possibility of a superpower gone wild under George W. Bush.

On this point Kerry has been right, Bush is alienating the allies from the United States. It is political suicide for a European prime minister or president to embrace the Bush administration. Standing on the same side as the United States is OK, but as one can see in England before the upcoming election, a certain distance is considered necessary for reelection.

Unfortunately, an American president does not need embraces from other world leaders to win an election in America.



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