Eyes On U.S. — No 'Vague Rouge,' No Final Results: How The World Makes Sense Of Midterms
While some breathed sighs of relief that the Republicans' predicted "red wave" sweep didn't happen, others chuckle at how long it takes to count the votes. And then there's Senõr Musk...
PARIS — Three full days later, and there's still no real clarity on the U.S. midterms — but the world has gotten used to American elections dragging out for days or even weeks, for both political and technical reasons.
One French journalist wondered if there’s a simpler way.
Seriously, American cousins, WHY #VotingMachines? In France, we use printed paper ballots. You show your ID, pick a few, go in a booth to put the one you want into your official envelope & cast it into a lucite box that's emptied & ballots counted in public the same evening. pic.twitter.com/p9FXclpEs6
— Anne-Elisabeth Moutet🇫🇷🇺🇦(email@example.com) (@moutet) November 8, 2022
But whatever the final tally, whoever winds up with majority control of the House of Representatives and Senate, readers learned that — after weeks of forecasts of huge Republican gains — the Democrats have avoided the vague rouge (Montreal)... onda rossa (Rome) ... chervona khvylya (Kyiv).
Elisabetta Grande of Italian magazine MicroMega noted that, while the midterms are not quite a win for the Democrats and President Joe Biden, voters rejected candidates in the "election denier" camp of the Republican party allied with former President Donald Trump.
France’s left-leaning Libération on Thursday was already looking ahead to the Republican battle royale shaping up between Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Portugal’s Publicozeros in on the Democrats man of the moment, John Fetterman, the newly elected Senator from Pennsylvania, who they describe as not having “supporters,” but rather “fans.” Publico sees particular relevance in the fact that Fetterman took down Trump’s handpicked candidate, Mehmet Oz.
Brazil’s O Globo gives Fetterman front page treatment, at least in part because he is married to a Brazilian, Gisele Barreto.
With DeSantis' midterms victory, "Trump already has a rival" for the 2024 presidential election, foresees Monterrey-based Mexican newspaper Milenio.
Global right-wing connections
European eyes remain concerned. From Germany, security and foreign policy watcher Marcel Dirsus quips, “it’d be a lot less unnerving to watch Americans vote from Europe if we weren’t so damn dependent on their choices.” No place is that more true today than the war in Ukraine, where Washington is by far the biggest contributor of military aid.
Kyiv-based news website Livy Beregnoted the results of exit polls that showed Americans are focused, above all, on the impact of a growing economic crisis and how it could affect U.S. support for Ukraine in the war against Russia. Notably, 81% of Democrats supported providing additional aid to Ukraine, compared to just 35% of Republicans.
For Jerusalem-based Haaretz, Moshe Gilad sees a dangerous connection between the U.S. far-right, the Israeli far-right, and “Birthright,” an organization that offers young American Jews a "discovery" trip to Israel.
Meanwhile observers from the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which typically monitors elections in countries with weak or no democratic institutions, deplored a state of “generalized disinformation” across the U.S. ahead of the elections.
Which brings us to our next topic, disinformation, and just what the heck is going to happen with Twitter.
📰 UP, FRONT PAGE AND CENTER
Korean daily Dong-a Ilbo
🐦 Monsieur Musk, alors?
Occupying almost just as much global attention this week as the U.S. midterms is Twitter under its new master, Elon Musk.
As An-Nahar sums up from Lebanon, Twitter is seeing a flood of users leaving for other pastures because it “became the place of a notable increase of speeches of hate and racist insults right after Elon Musk’s bought back the company.”
That’s unlikely to change anytime soon — as Germany’s Die Zeit reports, Musk sacked the Twitter team that discovered that Twitter’s algorithm tended to amplify far-right content. “Now that this team has been fired, it is even less likely that change will be possible — or even that these phenomenons could be better understood within the company,” Die Zeit writes.
As a result, many are threatening to leave Twitter (1 million accounts have already been deactivated), and the platform that’s in the running to replace it is not-U.S. based: Mastodon was created in 2016 by German software engineer Eugen Rochko, who is the company’s only employee.
The quirk of Mastodon is that everything is hosted on a series of independently run, decentralized servers; there is no central company, or central organization behind it.
Our continent, our rules.
This week, both Deutsche Welle and Le Monderan explainer pieces, giving readers the rundown on how Mastodon works, and how to create an account. But whether or not the platform shapes up as a true alternative remains to be seen — as Publico’s Karla Pequenino writes, Musk’s ultimate goal is to transform Twitter into a “superapp,” the likes of which exist in southeast Asia — like China’s WeChat or Singapore based Grab.
However, though he is now the sole owner of Twitter, Musk won't necessarily be able to do as he likes with the platform. Twitter’s global reach is a strength, and a constraint, as global regulators intend to make clear.
Stéphane Séjourné, the head of the Renew Europe group — the third largest in the European Parliament — is demanding that Musk come and testify before the EU’s legislative body. “Whatever Mr. Musk chooses to do, our refrain remains the same: our continent, our rules," he tweeted. "We must assure that Twitter continues to act against disinformation and hate speech."
A crashing bird is singing on the front page of French daily Libération.
🇪🇬 IN BRIEF
COP 27 is happening in Egypt, and the U.S., Canada, and Australia are being called out for contributing far less towards climate finance than they should, considering their share of historic emissions.
But in the case of the US, it’s not just far less, it’s far, faaaaaaaar less. The U.S. is #1 … at doing the least, says Carbon Brief. And developing countries — who will bear the biggest burden despite their lack of responsibility for the problem, are upset.