US ELECTIONS: AS THIS AMAZING ELECTION HANGS IN THE BALANCE, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT BUSH CAME ANYWHERE NEAR TO GORE? - 8 November, 2000

What is amazing about these elections is how close the two presidential candidates came to being elected. Out of some 100,000,000 voters, it seems that a few thousand people in the Sunshine State will endorse the ticket of the next occupant of the White House, while the USA finds itself in a situation in which the country is divided in two equal halves, with a total lack of consensus. Whoever wins, he will be backed by the authority of the voices of only half of his people behind him. The parallels that can be drawn from these elections say a lot about the American people in comparison with Europeans. With an enormous budget surplus ready to launch into public protection and social security schemes, if Gore were running for office in Europe, he would have been elected by an overwhelming majority. Bush, on the other hand, with his favouring of the private sector, would not provide the security which people need to feel for him to be elected…in Europe. Just how close George Bush Junior and Albert Gore find themselves states that the American people indeed think differently from the Europeans, giving more importance to individual enterprise and the right to lead one’s life as one wishes, with a minimum of State intervention than to any umbrella of social protectionism. It seems that aggressive monetarism runs indeed in the veins of the American people. Europeans, it seems, prefer a modicum of state interventionism and accept better the payment of taxes to welfare programmes. As the Americans hold their breath and wait to see who they are going to see in the White House for the next four years, one word of advice to the world leaders ; next time, wait two days before sending your messages of congratulations. Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Lisbon