The race for the White House has for months made news headlines around the globe — with Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s messages and missteps amplified in multiple languages.
But the foreign press corps initially hooked by Trump’s celebrity has been increasingly focused on the possibility of a Trump presidency and the realization of his foreign policies.
“It’s clear that if the Republican wins, it could be expensive for Berlin,” read an article late last month in German news magazine Der Spiegel, which cited concerns that he would terminate the trans-Atlantic alliance and noted German leaders had “long doubted” Trump would even be nominated.
The GOP nominee’s larger-than-life ascent has driven content in outlets abroad that has fascinated their readers and viewers.
“This is still an unresolved question in the Middle East: How did this happen?” said Joyce Karam, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Hayat. “We don’t have vibrant democracies, so people are very interested.”
Portrayal of the real estate mogul is often critical or satirical.
It also has eclipsed the coverage of Clinton, though recent headlines reflect concerns about implications of Trump beating the Democratic former secretary of state.
A Der Spiegel cover in February featured Trump, a U.S. flag in flames and the headline: “Madness: America’s agitator Donald Trump.”
The Economist, based in London, placed a cartoon of Trump astride a disgruntled-looking elephant on one of its May covers. The headline was “Trump’s triumph, America’s tragedy.”
In August, the French newspaper Libération wrote of Clinton on its cover: “The worst is that she can lose.”
Columnists and editorials have frequently opined that Clinton is far from the perfect candidate, citing low popularity ratings and her trust deficit.
The Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper has harsh words on both candidates, with Trump receiving the bulk of the bad press, but a September editorial criticized Clinton’s “poor performance as secretary of state, let alone her credibility issues.”
Foreign journalists not surprisingly highlight comments or policy proposals specific to the countries or regions they represent.
Trump had proposed a temporary ban on Muslims, and thus, was more unpopular among Al-Hayat readers than Clinton, though she voted as a senator in favor of the Iraq War, Karam said.
Trump also seeks to build a wall along the southern border of the United States — and have Mexico foot the bill, making him widely derided there, said Genaro Lozano, a columnist with Reforma newspaper and host on Televisa.
“The public opinion in Mexico is very, very against him,” Lozano said from Mexico City. “However, among those who are more conscious of the U.S.-Mexico relationship — the academics and the people who actually work on the bilateral relationship — there is a lot of caution. . . . If Donald Trump wins, of course we need to build a bridge and have a relationship with him.”
The public strongly favors Clinton, but is wary of both candidates’ talk to abandon or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement that has benefited Mexico, Lozano said.
In Eastern Europe, news outlets have focused on both candidates’ statements about Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and what a United States with Clinton or Trump in charge means for such issues as how the war in Ukraine will end.
“In Russia itself, Trump is primarily viewed positively. Positively, not in the sense that he’s liked by the politicians, but the sense that Trump will make America weaker,” Leonid Ragozin, a Moscow Times columnist and Bloomberg reporter, said from Riga, Latvia. “In a country like Latvia, of course, it just makes everyone nervous that someone like Trump could be elected.”
Ragozin said the “Russian propaganda machine” likes to focus on the U.S. election and cast Americans as discontented and polarized to divert attention from domestic affairs.
Trump is running on an “America first” platform, and regularly tells backers, “I’m not running to be president of the world. I’m running to be president of the United States.”
But Lozano said countries’ destinies are intertwined, and Mexico must be prepare who whoever takes the helm here because, “We’re in this together.”