US primaries in Iowa

Surprise results in the US primaries in Iowa: in the Democratic camp Hillary Clinton emerged with only a 0.2 percent lead over Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side Ted Cruz defied the polls and beat Donald Trump by a clear margin. The voting patterns reflect widespread anger and disenchantment, commentators conclude.

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Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Iowa highlights social inequality

The results of the Iowa primaries are proof that US politics and society are in a state of upheaval, the daily paper Jyllands-Posten concludes:

“If the American establishment believes it is immune to the anti-elite tendencies that we're seeing in Europe, the results of the Iowa caucuses will open its eyes. ... These show that voters in the US are also evacuating the political centre - perhaps even faster than in Europe. ... Unlike Europe, the US has always been a society where inequality is viewed as the result of private entrepreneurship. ... But in 2016 the inequality has become so glaring that it is starting to show itself in politics. ... Political debate will increasingly be the venue for economic and political confrontation with the ruling class.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

Voters only interested in domestic affairs

As important as the US is for the world, its election campaign is nothing but navel gazing, the liberal daily Turun Sanomat concludes:

“International circumstances could well change as the primaries progress. That concerns foreign and security policy, the international economy, energy policy and the domestic situation in China and Russia. Similarly, the threat of terrorism has not diminished. Nevertheless the US presidential elections are decided by the economy, security, social policy, education and immigration policy on the national and state level. Even if the US and its president have a unique international stature, only the Americans can vote. Europe has no bearing whatsoever on the US elections, even if some Europeans like to think it does.”

Webcafé (BG) /

Sanders and Clinton far too old for Bulgarians

For Bulgarians it's pretty odd to see presidential candidates of around 70 years of age, news website Webcafé explains:

“In Bulgaria old people are seen as living death announcements and those who fight against this stigma, for example scientists, are seen as 'old feudalists'. The retirement age - between 63 and 65 - functions like a brake in the voters' minds. … Age is a major factor in Bulgaria. Either you're too young or too old. In the end you realise that there's a period of around 20 years during which you're useful. In this context the US presidential candidates make an odd impression. Bernie Sanders is drumming up a lot of support among young voters and Hillary Clinton takes selfies with Katy Perry and chats on Snapchat. Pretty wild, these old pensioners.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Sanders just a dreamer

The Democrats won't fare well with Bernie Sanders as their presidential candidate, the centre-left daily Aftonbladet comments:

“The battle among the Democrats reflects an eternal conflict on the left: should politicians be dogged dreamers or should they try to make ordinary people's lives better in the here and now? Sanders to some extent reflects the dark message of the Republican doomsayer candidate: the country is broken and dysfunctional. Small, peripheral changes are pointless. … There's nothing really wrong with Bernie Sanders. His campaign has shifted the debate to the left and forced Hillary Clinton to adopt a clearer stance. But the hopes of the left rest on politicians who have the will and the ability to do something other than just talk and dream.”

Kurier (AT) /

Anger defines US election

The key factor motivating the US voters is anger, writes the liberal daily Kurier commenting as the primary election process kicks off in Iowa:

“Trump is riding right at the top of the wave of anger and fear that is driving many Americans who have lost their affluence - and there are plenty of them. Meanwhile on the left end of the spectrum the self-described 'American socialist' Bernie Sanders is gathering the angry citizens' votes. The voters' anger with their political establishment is clearly the key motif of election year 2016. And no one knows how to turn it to his advantage better than the megalomaniacal building tycoon. Up to now we have been able to hope that the media hype has made Trump bigger than he really is. That the voters in Iowa would give him his first reality check. But it is to be feared that Trump is every bit as real as the frustration and anger of the voters.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Trump and Sanders embody US citizens' indignation

As different as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders may be they both represent the US citizens' frustration with politics and the politicians, comments the centre-left daily El Periódico de Catalunya:

“With [Trump] the Republican party has a serious problem because if he stays in the race he could end up splitting the party. And in the Democrats' camp Hillary Clinton now has an unexpected und inconvenient rival in leftist Bernie Sanders. … Trump and Sanders have nothing in common except a trait that may end up deciding the elections. In both cases their ascent is the perfect reflection of the general discontent among voters who have lost confidence in the political class and feel ill treated by those in power. In this respect, in its indignation, the US is starting to resemble Europe.”

Financial Times (GB) /

A polarised era

Even a candidate like Donald Trump who is disliked by a large number of US citizens still stands a realistic chance of becoming president, the conservative daily Financial Times comments:

“Unlike the career Republicans, Mr Trump has cross-party appeal. True, his negative approval ratings are higher than any other potential nominee at minus 27 points, according to Gallup. Mrs Clinton’s negative approval is minus four points. Mr Trump is the most disliked figure in US politics. He is also possibly the most intensely liked. In a polarised era, the ability to get out your vote matters more than an elusive chase for the swing voter. If you add Mr Trump’s high voter enthusiasm to his knack for rebranding, it would be rash to write off his prospects.”

NRC next (NL) /

Primaries a good reality check

A victory for Trump is entirely possible, the liberal daily believes:

“The US primaries are an extremely tough, public and collective selection process in which the candidates are really put through their paces. In principle vanity, copying and false claims are exposed without pity. That goes for Hillary Clinton, but also for Trump. A growing number of people now believe a man who has never held political office could become the next president of the United States. For that reason his skills will be seriously put to the test. Whether he will pass remains to be seen. ... The US system has often had to withstand setbacks and it will also be able to deal with Donald Trump: the power of the president is limited by laws and counter-powers. And even a Trump victory would be the result of free, democratic elections.”