One of the most outspoken reactions and quoted in many papers and blogs is "We are relieved that we now see the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world. The Bush administration is seriously weakened by this Democrat election victory." Martin Schulz, a German member of the European Parliament, made that statement as president of the 201 members strong Socialist Group in the EP. Many media reports, however, present this statement as if all 201 members have put their signature on it. Schulz also said that "European social democrats have worked hard to prevent widespread despair among European citizens at the aggressive foreign policy of the Bush administration turning into naked, and wholly unjustified, anti-Americanism" but unfortunately did not explain what kind of hard work his group has done.
Matthew Schofield writes for the McClatchy Newspapers:
German Liberal Party Minister of Parliament Werner Hoyer was quoted in the newspaper Saarbruecker Zeitung as saying, "The moral arrogance of the Republicans was rebuffed." (...)
Karsten Voigt, who coordinates German-U.S. Relations, said a change of mood in America would reduce the growing European prejudice against the United States. "The new Democrats will want to work more closely with Europe, this is clear," he said. "But they will also expect us to shoulder more of the burden." He said there likely would be increased pressure on Germany to send more soldiers to Afghanistan and to send them into more dangerous parts of the country. "From the American point of view, this is a very legitimate expectation," he said. "But I don't see it flying at the Bundestag (parliament)."
Under the headline US Elections Mark New Beginning for Transatlantic Ties, DW World reports: "The Democratic Party's victory in US midterm elections has been welcomed across the Atlantic. German experts expect this political change to improve bilateral relations, both politically and in terms of public opinion."
In another round-up, DW World opines Europeans Revel in US Republican Defeat: "The European reaction to Democrat wins in midterm US elections was overwhelmingly positive. Observers said they hoped the US and Europe could start healing widening trans-Atlantic rifts." And the Associated Press has learned that the "world sees vote changing foreign policy."
The NY Times chose the headline Reactions From Abroad Set Conciliatory tone, Seeing Vote as a Protest to Iraq Policy and writes:
Many in the German media and most experts don't expect a drastic shift in U.S. foreign policy or in transatlantic relations. Besides, not every policy shift will be welcomed in Germany: The new US Congress will probably put more pressure on Germany to increase international commitments. Many German observers are also concerned about rising isolationism and protectionism after the defeat of the Republicans and the new majority for the Democrats in the House of Representatives and in the Senate as well.
As word of the midterm election results and later the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld spread across the globe, the criticism of America was less shrill, less gloating, more textured than in the past. But none of those offering a public reaction said the vote had been about anything but Iraq. "This was the bill to the White House for their disaster in Iraq," said Juergen Trittin, deputy leader of Germany's Green Party. It was not, of course, a presidential vote -- though some wished it had been. But the tone seemed more conciliatory, in part because President Bush’s power is now seen as waning irrevocably. (...)
"Europeans have tended to look at the U.S. as being synonymous with Bush," said Karsten D. Voigt, the coordinator of German-American relations in the German Foreign Ministry. "This shows that the reality is far more diverse and multifaceted. I hope it will lead to a diminution of anti-American prejudice."
But there was an expectation among some Europeans that the Democrats' scrutiny of the Bush administration’s record would bring demands for greater openness both by the White House and among its allies. The German Parliament, for instance, is investigating allegations that Germany may have acquiesced in the rendition of terrorism suspects to secret prisons. So far, the United States has offered little help. "I have great hopes that, maybe not immediately but eventually, we can get information directly from the U.S. Congress to help us answer basic questions about the C.I.A. renditions and prisons," said Hans-Christian Ströbele, a Green Party member of Parliament.
Davids Medienkritik's perception that Europeans want the US to "cut and run in Iraq" is misinformed. I think most Europeans are very concerned about developments in Iraq and Afghanistan and will blame the US for any problem in Iraq resulting from a pre-mature withdrawal in Iraq.