The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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U.S. presidential election results draw crowds in Spain

Nikki Pasrija is an SMU junior currently studying abroad in Spain.

By 11 p.m. on Nov. 4, the metro in Madrid was exceptionally crowded. Large groups of Spaniards and American citizens abroad were chattering loudly, convening in a long, unorganized line outside of Circulo Bellas Artes, the venue that Democrats Abroad in Spain had chosen to host its Election Party.

Democrats Abroad underestimated the interest in the American presidential election. The overseas branch of the U.S. Democratic Party oversold its tickets, and hordes of eager party-goers were turned away by midnight – only 6 p.m. EST.

Disappointed and frustrated, many turned to local bars and pubs to follow the election. The crowds on election night exemplified the large interest Spaniards have had in the election. Most support Sen. Barack Obama as president-elect, but there are those who are disappointed to see him headed to the White House.

Juan Pan Montejo, a political science professor in Madrid, explained the interest in the election and the gravitation toward Obama. Pan Montejo said that the Spanish population followed the campaign because it was a large part of international news and was constantly featured in newspapers, such as the popular El País.

El País has run countless stories on Obama and the election, exposing people to the issues and policies at stake. Pan Montejo said that Obama is popular because he is high-profile, young, intelligent and new to the scene.

Spaniards perceive Sen. John McCain as a closer figure to President George W. Bush, who according to Pan Montejo, is unpopular in Spain. He said that McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate also hurt his popularity in Spain.

“Palin lacks knowledge about international politics and foreign countries,” Montejo said.

Some Spaniards are not so happy about the results of the election. Cortes Angeles Dominguez, a businessman who has hosted American students for fifteen years, thinks that Obama will not change anything.

“It’s more of a mental victory for Democrats and democracy,” he said.

Angeles Dominguez, who refers to himself as a rich conservative, claimed that if he lived in the United States he would consider casting a Democratic vote.

“In America, there are those far richer than me,” he said, referring to Obama’s policy that only those individuals or families making more than $250,000 a year will see a rise in taxes. But as a Spaniard, he prefers Republicans because of their stance on foreign policy. “¡Viva Bush!” he proclaimed.

Dominguez also has doubts about an Obama presidency. He fears that it marks the beginning of socialism in America, and will lead to a decline in America’s international power.

But the scene on election night cast a more positive light on Obama. Supporters in bars chanted “Obama! Obama!” as they watched CNN announce the returns of a long-awaited campaign.

Others threw private watching parties in their homes. Among these was Alexa Contreras, an American student who has been studying abroad in Madrid for almost two years. Contreras said that her Spanish friends had a quiet support for Obama, but did not believe he could win because of his skin color.

According to Contreras, a few members of the older generation supported McCain because their conservative views would not allow them to see past that issue. “Nevertheless,” Contreras said, “the Spaniards that argued that Obama would never win were the same people I saw teary-eyed because they were speechless and happy that America proved them wrong.”

Contreras said that living abroad has made her appreciate the privileges that America has given her, and that she never expected to return home to a country with a new face.

“Going abroad for as long as I did was the best thing I could have done to shock life back into my patriotism,” she said. “I feel our politics is moving in the right direction, and I no longer feel the need to apologize on behalf of who is representing our country.”

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