World Reaction: Relief at a very 'unBritish' result

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Indy Politics

United States

By David Usborne

If most of Washington felt lukewarm about Britain's election – and mildly baffled – Cameron's ascent was seen as largely heartening.

"Repairing the frayed state of the Anglo-American relationship will be a top priority," of a Cameron government, predicted Nile Gardiner of the conservative Heritage Foundation. Some Americans were amazed that so untelegenic a candidate as Brown could lead his party into an election. Politico's Mark Blyth called the Prime Minister an, "overgrown version of Michael Dukakis with the ungainliness of Gerald Ford". And, he added: "If Blair was still in charge... they would have done better."


By Tony Paterson

To many in the German commentariat, the results in London were evidence that, as Der Spiegel put it: "The United Kingdom has finally arrived in Europe." "The Tories and Labour now have to negotiate majorities just like Merkel, Sarkozy and co," the magazine went on. "How very unBritish!" it concluded."The British wanted change, but they didn't really want it." The news of the closeness of the election prompted a wider outpouring of astonishment, not all of it entirely accurate. "Dead heat in British election !" exclaimed the country's mass circulation Bild newspaper.


By Katherine Butler

The Irish Republic, which has lived comfortably with proportional representation since 1918, has not had single-party government for 30 years and has no use for the term "hung parliament". Some commentators were yesterday however forecasting a British scenario not of stable coalitions, but one more reminiscent of Ireland in the early 1980s when voters endured three general elections in 18 months. Yet Gordon Brown's performance caused others to wonder if there was renewed hope for beleaguered Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. "The Taoiseach's dourness... makes Brown look like Graham Norton doing pantomime," wrote The Irish Times' Harry McGee. The Irish Examiner predicted "prolonged political turmoil".

European Union

By Vanessa Mock

EU officials are sounding less anxious than before about the prospect of Tory government, particularly if the Liberals are at hand to soften eurosceptic rhetoric. Diplomats have taken comfort from David Cameron's more conciliatory tone in recent months and believe he would have a "pragmatic" approach. "Whoever gets in will probably carry on in the same vein as before, by safeguarding British interests first," said one official. "But it might get hairy if we have to start negotiating things like the EU budget with the Tories."


By Catrina Stewart

Israelis were privately breathing a sigh of relief after the Liberal Democrats, widely viewed as the most hostile of the parties towards Israel, stalled at the polls. But there were still fears that Nick Clegg could secure the Foreign Office in a coalition. "Foreign Secretary Clegg ... would be quite problematic for Israel," wrote The Jerusalem Post's David Horowitz. Liberal daily Ha'aretz wondered, meanwhile, if David Cameron and William Hague were completely on side. But it had few doubts about Michael Gove, saying: "Some of the views expressed in his speeches ... would put the mainstream [rightwing political party] Likud to shame."