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2012 US election fever grips Swedish media

2012 US election fever grips Swedish media

Published: 05 Nov 2012 15:19 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Nov 2012 15:19 GMT+01:00

With the US presidential election a day away, the Swedish media remains in an all-out frenzy of coverage looking at whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will win, much to the surprise of some US expats.

Sweden's main news outlets were dominated by coverage of the US elections on Monday, just a day ahead of the opening of voting for the 2012 elections in the US.

In addition to front-page banner headlines, Swedish papers have also taken full advantage of online tools to beef up their US election coverage, with Dagens Nyheter (DN) going as far as arranging online chats for their readers with a Democratic and Republican family in the United States.

Indeed, the US election has been making headlines in Sweden for months, and while it's no surprise that Swedish media outlets have kept up with the race between Obama and Romney, the amount of coverage in Sweden appears to have reached new levels.

"The coverage really is massive and comprehensive. It's really quite astonishing," Ann Towns, a Swedish-born, US-trained political scientist currently teaching at University West in Trollhättan, told The Local.

"They seem to have a story on every possible angle. It's like an introductory course in US political science. Overall I think they have done a pretty good job."

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT STOCKHOLMERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE ELECTION

Brian O'Connor, an American living in Karlstad in central Sweden, agreed.

"I've been somewhat surprised by the level of coverage this time around," he told The Local.

O'Connor, who has lived in Sweden for more than a decade, said he finds Swedish media coverage of the US election campaigns "refreshing".

"There is less propaganda on the airwaves here in Sweden. The Swedish media also covers things in a more explanatory way, which I enjoy. It's allowed me to brush up on things about the US electoral system that I would have likely overlooked or forgotten about if I were in the US because of all the vitriol," he said.

While O'Connor also keeps up with election coverage in the US media, he finds that reading and reflecting on the way the US presidential race is covered in Sweden has provided a different level of understanding how the US is perceived abroad.

"I certainly think more about how US policy decisions can have an effect on the rest of the world in a way that I might not fully appreciate if I were living in the US," he said.

"I also feel that the coverage in Sweden allows me to focus more on what the candidates are actually saying rather than getting caught up in how they are saying it."

But far from all US expats find Swedish coverage of the US elections useful.

"I don't pay a lot of attention to it," Peter Dahlen, an American who has been living in Sweden for more than a decade, told The Local.

Dahlen, who lives in Stockholm and previously chaired the Swedish chapter of Democrats Abroad, is more engaged in US politics than the average US expat and finds that it's easiest to get news about the presidential race straight from US news sources.

Nevertheless, he said there are some advantages to being able to follow the US elections from Sweden.

"You don't have to watch all the political advertisements," said Dahlen.

"And the 24/7 news cycle isn't as relentless here. You get some relief from the breathless coverage of the issue of the day."

Political scientist Towns said that the US elections are likely more of a fascination for the Swedish media, rather than the Swedish public in general.

However, she said there are a couple of factors that likely account for Swedes' continued and growing interest in US presidential politics.

"On the one hand, the US is a major power and what the US does affects Swedes, so they are interested in who wins the presidency," she said.

"But I think a major reason for the enthusiasm is that these days there seem to be more Swedes who have a personal connection to the United States compared to 1970s or 1980s."

She cited the relatively muted coverage in Sweden of the change in leadership in China, which she called a "growing world power".

"Swedes just aren't as connected to China as they are to the US. There are lots of people who travel or work in the US or have friends or relatives that do, which has helped them develop a more nuanced view of the complexities of US society and the election system," she said.

But O'Connor cited a somewhat less high-brow explanation for why Swedes can't seem to get enough of US politics.

"It's entertaining and unlike any spectacle that you can get in Sweden," he said.

David Landes

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Your comments about this article

16:37 November 5, 2012 by Scott McCoy
I,ll be voting in the morning,in the great state of Virginia,new leadership to come.
16:48 November 5, 2012 by redfish
Is Swedish media covering third party candidates or pretending they don't exist, like the US media does?

Are they covering the state of the Congressional and Senatorial races, or are they pretending that the President is more important than the legislature, like the US media does?
17:16 November 5, 2012 by Woww
I am going to be voting in Virginia as well, and thank goodness Obama will win Virginia, and the Election. I was part of the Grassroots process and I can't even begin to describe how impressive/organized it was for Obama. Just shows the passion his side has versus ol Mitt the Twit, who really has no shot of winning this thing. Obama/Biden 2012!
19:02 November 5, 2012 by Roy E
It feels like there will be a very low voter turnout for Obama tomorrow. There's nowhere near the enthusiasm for him that there was in 2008. It's probably a result of his very poor performance. He delivered next to nothing of what he promised and in many ways the nation is in worse shape than it was four years ago.

In conrast, Republican voters are hightly motivated and enthusiastic.

Anticipate a Romney win by a decisive margin.

Wednesday's controversy will probably be about how the US media is so out of touch with reality, and instead caught up in their own echo-chamber of wishful thinking and projection.
21:01 November 5, 2012 by madmike
I only hope that Roy E is right. The European media's love affair with BHO is almost as bad as the so called US mainstream media. The ultra biased media coverage is reflected in the "Stockholm comments on US election". At least a couple of people admitted that they didn't know much about what is going on the in the US but "like" Obama. The only way they could form that opinion is from positive news coverage in Sweden and the rest of Europe.

For example, how much coverage has the Benhgazi consulate situation gotten in Sweden? More importantly, what type of coverage was it?

Has there been any coverage of the exploding US national debt? How about all the money thrown down the toilet on the bankrupt "green" energy companies?

The bottom line is that BHO has been a disaster and it will only get worse if he is re-elected.
21:54 November 5, 2012 by Iraniboy
Let's see if Romney gets elected and gets the US to its knees as Bush did or Obama manages to gets elected and save the US from sinking!

The choice of Americans is clear! The choice between tradition, past, barbarism(mormonism), backwardness and bigotery or modernism and future! Most anti-Americans can't wait to see Romney gets elected so the US goes bankrupt once for all such that nobody can save it!
23:44 November 5, 2012 by tercel
bush added $5 trillion to the national debt for $10.5 trillion cumulative after bushes 2 terms ( thats 8 years and 2 wars). Obama added 6 trillion after 1 term (4 years and the winding down of 2 wars). Current nation debt $16.3 trillion. Another 4 years of Obama will probably give the US $22.6 trillion debt, more than any other country and more than most countries combined. The US national debt now exceeds the total US GDP by about $2 trillion.

If Obama wins on Nov. 2 and the next 4 years are like the last the US debt will probably exceed the GDP by $9.6 trillion, a debt the US could never repay. The US credit rating will sink and inflation will run rampant. The result a severe recession or a depression in the US and because the US is such a large purchaser of world wide goods and services you are looking at the very real possibility of a world wide depression. 10 years ago there were 4 Volvo dealerships in the greater Phoenix area, today none, 5 years ago there were 3 Ikea stores in the greater Phoenix area today 1 and it is almost empty most of the time. Get the picture if the US does not buy then YOU have to buy and you can't buy enough to keep your businesses in business and you go down with everyone else. Iraniboy, be-careful what you wish for-- it just might come true and back to Iran you must go.

Remember it was Obama in the 08 campaign that said "a definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome." Well he wants four more years of the same thing.
01:58 November 6, 2012 by Svensksmith
Just on the strength of your recommendation, Iranboy, is enough to make me hesitant to vote for BO.
02:22 November 6, 2012 by Eric1
The press in the US, for the most part, is just part of the Democrat party. No objective reporting in the USA. Obama has done damage to the economy, racial relations, weakened the military, given money to his cronies in "big wind" and "big solar" and lost it all- except for money put in the Caymans, destroying medical care, half the citizens on welfare, and in general just a vulgar person.
08:55 November 6, 2012 by Iraniboy
@tercel

I didn't discuss it from Iran's perspective! Iran has suffered the most from Democrats in recent decades by various sanctions! Republicans are better for Iran since they keep both economical relation and hostility at the same time and that's exactly what Iranian regime wants!

@Svensksmith

Hahah then I guess Iranian regime is happy for what I did :D

I'm not in Iran anyway so that doesn't concern me! What is interesting to me to see if the US is supposed to be recovered and moved forward with Obama or it is supposed to go backward, get bankrupt once for all, by a Republican president!!!
10:48 November 6, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

Paying attention of what Iranboy writes is quite stupid. He does not know a thing about why BO would be fatal to the US if he is re-elected. Iranboy enjoys writing stupidities and that is all. Obama's record in keeping up his promises is almost zero. He has done more damage to the country than good, even if you count his saving of the car industry in Detroit.

Oh, hold on. Iraniboy has proposed Obama for another Nobel Peace Prize.

I join you in your judgement, Svenkssmith, but I might not be as hesitant like you.

By the way, is Obama a Kenyian or an American.

And writing about the Swedish and the US media, I believe that some of the millions of dollars that BO has "invested" in his campaign, are in many American and Swedish journalists bank accounts. Who knows. They all claim to be honest, especially in Sweden.
16:20 November 6, 2012 by Dimetrodon61
Swedish media do not cover the third party candidates because they have zero chance of affecting the outcome.

As for Obaama, he is quite conservative from a Swedish perspective and even from a US perspective he is closer to "Blue Dog" conservative Democrats than liberals.

And his decision to continue with death lists -without any judicial oversight!- and to not prosecute torturers is a disgrace. He has appointed economic advisors with close ties to bankers, advisors who have no regrets about the failed policies that created the crisis.

Romney is a very conservative candidate who has failed to condemn nuts like Mourdock. He will ingratiate himself with the arch-conservative wing by appointing judges with a Religious Right worldview.

Those who read "factcheck" sites will notice that while both lie, Romney have more outright "pants on fire" lies.

Two very flawed candidates, but Romney ignores reality more than obama.
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