Long before the election results were final, leaders, diplomats and media organizations around the world began preparing for the next four years of United States leadership.
"Good Morning, Mr. President," read the headline of the German newspaper Bild on Wednesday morning. With votes too close to call in Ohio, the paper refrained from making any guess about who, exactly, "Mr. President" would be.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair joked with lawmakers in the House of Commons on Tuesday that he was sure everyone in the House joined him "in sending congratulations to the President ... Karzai of Afghanistan," according to the BBC.
After four years of increasingly uneasy relations between the United States and much of the world, the prospect of a Bush re-election brought forth a wide range of reactions from leaders and diplomats from all over the world (see "John Kerry Delivers Concession Speech, Calls For Unity"). Here's what some of them had to say:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin described the prospect of President Bush's re-election as a "victory over fear." "If Bush wins, then I will be able to rejoice that the American people did not allow themselves to be scared and made a right decision," Putin told the BBC.
- "The Americans have voted for a militarized Rambo rather than someone who appeals to their reason," Bolaji Akinyemi, a former Nigerian foreign minister, said to CNN. "I suppose every living being, when frightened by security, stops thinking and reacts instinctively."
- "I simply hope that the American president, whatever his name might be, will take this opportunity to reach out to Europeans and say in both style and substance how we can work together," Karsten Voigt, the German Foreign Ministry's co-ordinator for U.S.-German co-operation, said to CBS.
- French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier stressed to CBS the importance of efforts to "rebuild, to renovate trans-Atlantic relations" as well as to address current crises in Iraq, the Middle East, Iran and the African continent.
- "I hope that [Bush] will try to build bridges ... and do more to cooperate via international organizations," Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said to ABC.
- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told the BBC, "Regardless of which candidate wins, I think there will basically be no change in the recognition of friendship between Japan and the United States."
- "It is an incumbent president in a situation where a great part of the nation experiences that it is in a war with terrorism and the economy is moving in the right direction," Sweden's Prime Minister, Goeran Persson, told CBS. "These two issues together should have given Bush a clear victory. Despite this, it was very narrow."
- "This is a catastrophe for the rest of the world. We have already seen that Bush has made a mess of the world over the last four years," Syafii Maarif, chairman of Muhammadiyah, a mainstream Indonesian Muslim organization, said to the BBC.
- Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori told the BBC he was worried that America would become more dictatorial and extremist if Bush were re-elected. "We are going to see even more isolationism where America will not bother about the United Nations," he said. "To me, that is a very sad affair."