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From the December 2003 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 50, No. 12)

Viewpoints

Schwarzenegger’s Victory in California

Comment and analysis from Beijing, Munich, Santiago, Manila, New Delhi, Bangkok, Sofia, Rome, Moscow, Mexico City, Copenhagen, Taipei, Sydney, and Prague

Arnold Schwarzenegger
The newly elected Arnold Schwarzenegger at a rally with President George Bush, Oct. 16, 2003 (Photo: Hector Mata/AFP-Getty Images).
Beijing Huanqiu Shibao/Global Times (weekly magazine of People’s Daily), Oct. 10: [Arnold Schwarzenegger’s] victory in the recall election embodies the “American dream” hidden in the heart of Californians, many of whom are immigrants. The event reflects a big shortcoming in the electoral system of the United States.
—Liu Aicheng

Munich Süddeutsche Zeitung (centrist), Oct. 9: Bravery, muscles, masculinity....The people long to be entertained and don’t want to be bothered with grave problems and complicated solutions. They want a strong man. Arnold is strong.
—Stefan Kornelius

Santiago La Tercera (conservative), Oct. 11: No matter what else you say about it, the recall shows a strong and developed civil society that can make its views known and exercise control, through direct democracy, over those who were elected to administer the economy and public policy. How many other countries have this kind of democratic participation?

Manila Philippine Daily Inquirer (independent), Oct. 11: In the California elections, signs have emerged of the destabilizing effects of populism.

New Delhi The Times of India (conservative), Oct. 9: Why should the gubernatorial race in a single American state excite such a global media frenzy?...The world watched, and read about the real-life fortunes of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the same reason that it laps up his reel-life exploits. Because both stories are “made in America.”

Bangkok Khao Sod (center-right), Oct. 10: His victory recalled that of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan when he stepped from stardom to the presidency 23 years ago. However, the governor-elect has more pressing challenges ahead. Budget deficits, unemployment, and working with the Democrats...in the state Assembly.

Sofia Dnevnik (conservative), Oct. 9: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s landslide victory is a slap in the face...of the status quo, of the entire political and media establishment....The big question...is whether a wave of similar recalls of other spendthrift and unpopular governors may ensue in other states.

Rome Il Riformista (left-centrist), Oct. 9: A protest vote? Undoubtedly, considering that half of union members and a large number of Hispanics and black people rejected Gray Davis....This is the rejection of politics “as usual,” a widespread mood in California and not only there.

Moscow Kommersant (business-oriented), Oct. 8: If the actor, after winning the election (when an appropriate constitutional amendment is made), continues on to the White House, then we all should believe that the laws of history are being written by Hollywood screenwriters. However, it is more likely that the impact will be trivial: One of the 50 U.S. states is getting a governor who will continue to destroy its economy.
—Mikhail Zygar

Mexico City La Jornada (left-wing), Oct. 8: Beyond the tragedy for Californians signified by having brought Schwarzenegger to the governor’s office...and in addition to the enormous danger this represents for Hispanics, minorities, and disadvantaged social groups, it is important to ask how...the will of the people could have brought such a show of mindlessness.

Copenhagen Information (left-wing), Oct. 9: Schwarzenegger’s convincing victory...can hardly be called a new phenomenon.....The conclusion that Silvio [Berlusconi] and Arnold provide the politics of the future is still a long way off. California and Italy show rather extreme examples of the seething and under-the-surface dissatisfaction with political opportunists not daring to make brave decisions.
—Burch

Taipei Lianhe Bao/United Daily News (independent, pro-unification), Oct. 9: The victory of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator, in California’s recall election may satisfy voters’ need for heroes and miracles.....However, it’s not yet time for California to celebrate. Voters may like a fresh face for a while, but there’s not yet a resolution to the state’s huge budget deficit.

Sydney The Australian (conservative), Oct. 9: Now we will learn if Arnold Schwarzenegger really is a man of steel, because a politician who is tough—if not necessarily stainless—is exactly what California needs. Those who fear the judgment of the people may suggest this is a win for populism over political maturity. But Schwarzenegger’s sweeping ballot-box victory demonstrates the American genius for embracing new ideas and new people.

Prague Mlada Fronta Dnes (independent), Oct. 9: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s victory is naturally reminiscent ...of Ronald Reagan, who also was originally a California governor. But Reagan entered history with the exclamation, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” while Schwarzenegger has so far managed nothing more than the expression “Hasta la vista, baby.”
—Milan Vodicka

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