In Poland, expat gathering pulls in Obama supporters

November 5th, 2008 - 10:05 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWarsaw, Nov 5 (DPA) Americans, Europeans and Poles alike stayed out late Tuesday during an “Election Night Warsaw” event to cheer on the US presidential candidates and watch the results come in on big-screen CNN monitors.The crowd, mostly supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, mingled and cast their votes in mock booths, arguing politics and the importance of this year’s American elections across the world.

British-Italian businessman Colin Guerrini dropped his card into a bin marked “Republicans in Poland”, and said it didn’t take an American to join candidate John McCain’s party.

“As a European, I can be a Republican,” Guerrini said. “Because America shapes the world.”

“(McCain’s) chances are terrible,” admitted real estate developer Brian Burrough, who said most of his American expat friends were Obama supporters. “But I’m a McCain supporter in spite of him. Because he upholds Republican principles like support for business and less government.”

But McCain supporters were sparse in a country where surveys showed a majority of Poles supporting Obama.

Polish media largely focused on the Illinois Senator. This year, Poles took an added interest in the elections because of the agreement Poland signed with the US to host an American missile defence shield in exchange for military support.

The system is to be co-hosted by Czech Republic. And there has been much interest in this year’s US elections there too, said Jan Tomasek, deputy chief of mission at the embassy of the Czech Republic.

“The debate in the Czech parliament … said that we should wait for election results and see where the winner stands on the missile shield,” Tomasek said. “So from that standpoint, it’s important. The election will be positive because it would clear up the situation, no matter if McCain or Obama wins.”

Poles have also been more interested in this year’s elections because it’s been catered more to young people, said Polish student Maksima Owicz, with MTV promoting voting and pop star endorsements of politicians.

And while there is a small minority of McCain supporters, Poland has largely favoured Obama. Criticism of Bush reached a peak as Poland recently withdrew from Iraq, with some feeling the country has received little in return for their mission.

“Everyone sees McCain as older,” Owicz said. “And they’re afraid of Palin.”

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