Election 2008 The World is Watching

Blog Discussion

The Race That Was Followed Around the World

As the dust settles, expectations set in

BY FRONTLINE/World EditorsNovember 6, 2008

Over the last few months covering one of the most anticipated elections in modern history, we produced 60 stories in partnership with PRI The World and the National Minority Consortia "Abroad at Home" fellows.

Our reporters spoke with people from Afghanistan to Albania and Iran to Indonesia.

Most everyone argued that the next U.S. president would have such a direct impact on their lives that every citizen of the world should be given at least half a vote.

Most everyone argued that the next U.S. president would have such a direct impact on their lives that every citizen of the world should be given at least half a vote.

Despite attempts to cover support for both candidates from around the world, our reporting echoed other international polls -- while the race was close here in the U.S., there was little doubt in the rest of the world that people would "vote" for Barack Obama three to one over John McCain if they could.

Foreign Policy's "How the World Would Vote" lists the countries that are the most enthusiastic supporters of McCain and Obama. However, as you look down the list of McCain territories, you quickly come to several nations that actually favor Obama -- just by smaller margins.

Some we interviewed said that the election of Obama would revive the ideal of an America they had almost forgotten. Others admitted that they looked to the U.S. to do what they could not accomplish themselves -- elect someone of color to the nation's highest office.

For an indicator of just how much Tuesday's results rippled around the world, PRI The World and the BBC rounded up a whirlwind of reactions from ordinary people to global leaders.

In states such as Florida and New Mexico, our stories from "Abroad at Home" also reflected how ethnic and minority communities were an important part of the swing vote.

Now, as the dust settles and the hype dies down, the world is already starting to turn its attention to the daunting array of challenges facing the next president.

Russian president Dmitri Medvedev and Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai both delivered tough messages to Obama about missile defense and civilian bombing casualties.

With that in mind, we're interested to hear what you think:

What did this election mean to you? And can the U.S. President Elect meet the high expectations for change raised in this historic race?

Share your thoughts below.

share your reactions

Jean N - Charleston, West Virginia
Before this election, the notion of change seemed possible yet somehow unobtainable. Now, I have no doubt that, when necessary, people will take action and vote. It is a great feeling to have been involved in such a monumental race in terms of its global impact. Expectations are high for our President-Elect and he is, without question, more than aware of that. I am confident that he can take the pressure and that we will see progress during his term.

F Wash - Charleston, West Virginia
I like the art work that was really creative. I'm actually proud of the election I noticed more of my peers got involved in this election and wre actually proud to vote. I was also shocked by the number of elder West Virginians that got out to vote. It's amazing how something as simple as politics can interest the world.

The set of challenges that faces the world and all of humanity is that there is a deficit of empathy, and inhumanity of men towards his fellow men is the greatest transgression in the 21st century. Mr President-elect can see past what plagues our world today. In his speech in German, he articulated very well how he sees the world and what it should be; and how appealing to have a president who can appeal to the aspirations of our better angel. For we are better than the past eight years and we can do better. He sees the world through many lenses. It is as if he had walked in our shoes previously. His Presidency is one that comes once in a life time.

Alvaro Gonzalez - Monterey, California
To me the elections meant a desperate cry for change of direction in our country. I believe Obama won because he was at the right place at the right time. After 8 years of the most corrupt administration in U.S. history, the democrats could have nominated "Joe the plumber" and he would have won. My candidate was Edwards but the media concentrated on Obama and Clinton. So, between almost dead McCain, clown Palin and Obama-Biden, the choice was clear...Obama won. We'll see what is the change Obama preached so much! Frankly, I don't think he can change Washington's way of managing our democracy, which by the way, is up for sale to the highest bidder.

I am proud of America for electing the best candidate: the thinker, the visionary, the most educated, articulate and composed candidate who might have the ability to heal US foreign relations around the world. He has inspired Americans to again participate -- if we continue to support our new President and his vision, I have great hope that we can once again restore America, and our reputation, and in so doing make the world a better place.

adam - san francisco, california
We did the right thing. We elected the more intelligent, articulate, compassionate, composed presidential candidate, and oh, by the way, he's African American so we began to overcome our past, too. Despite all the problems we face, a President Obama will give us, and the world, reason to hope. If you saw the expression on his face during his solemn victory speech in Chicago, you realize that no one is more aware then Barack Obama how daunting the tasks ahead are. Eight years of Bush and Cheney and Rove and Rumsfeld and their Enron and Wall St. buddies trashed this country and ruined our reputation abroad.This is going to take time to fix. And Obama is going to need our help.

Julie Schwietert Collazo - Mexico City, Mexico
As an American citizen with Mexican residency, the election meant the beginning of the restoration of the US as a trust and admiration-worthy country in the rest of the world's eyes. On election night, I was captivated by the world's enthusiastic reactions. Now it's up to all of us to support President-Elect Obama to realize the ambitious vision he has articulated. He can't do it alone...and we shouldn't expect him to. It's time to truly revive the notion of a participatory democracy.