By Wednesday morning President Joachim Gauck and Angela Merkel had both offered their congratulations. Tens of thousands of Americans living in Germany were celebrating and the country’s newspapers were examining one of the most nail-biting nights of 2012.
Der Spiegel magazine hailed Obama’s second victory as the dawn of a new era and a chance for the President to use his second term to “tackle the politics of change in the right way.”
The President’s re-election represents the “defence of his controversial political agenda,” giving him the opportunity to secure a legacy “as one of the great presidents.” If the economy picks up in the coming years, wrote the magazine, “it will be ascribed to Obama’s policies.”
America voted for Obama because he was was the lesser of two evils, claimed the Süddeutsche Zeitung, taking a more cynical view on the 51-year-old’s victory.
The chances of him changing a lot in his second term “were not large.” Remaining president was “not an illustrious victory,” it said, and the US did not re-elect him for being successful, but because “they were not ready to put Mitt Romney in his place.”
Not much had changed, agreed the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. That the Democrats had retained control of the senate was “no surprise”, and, since the Republicans held on to their majority in the House of Representatives, this would not make Obama’s second term “any easier than his first.”
“Now in the political centres of power in Washington everything will remain as it has been: in the White House, in the House of Representatives and in the Senate,” said the paper.
Meanwhile, the daily tabloid Bild used the occasion to make demands on the new president on behalf of the world, calling for the US economy to be restored, an end to the Afghanistan conflict and to keep all options open regarding Iranian nuclear ambitions.
During the next four years, the paper said, “it will be up to the US president to stop the Mullahs” in their drive to build a nuclear bomb. This “maybe with sanctions” but may be “also with military action. For the security of Israel.”
Die Welt newspaper on the other hand focused on Republican candidate Mitt Romney, after a brief nod to Obama’s win. “The presidential candidate was not ready to admit defeat, because he thought he still had a majority in Ohio,” it said, continuing with a break-down of his concession speech.
Although divided on the significance of Obama’s narrow victory, the German press did agree that the campaign had been what Der Spiegel called “harshest and dirtiest in the history of the United States.”
For the first time in the US, said Die Welt, the campaigns were been tinged with negativity, as the Democrats “painted Romney to be a heartless multimillionaire, who wants to widen the divide between rich and poor with his tax plan.”