US Elections 2012 and Why Europe Matters

Mitt Romney foto TA SR/APEurope's debt crisis has had a significant impact on U.S. voters in this year's presidential elections and on the campaign strategies of President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Analysts say the biggest drag on the US economy has been Europe's economic problems, a situation which has seen intense diplomatic negotiations across the Atlantic in the run-up to the election. The Obama administration has also been focused on trying to steer the European Union away from the edge of financial collapse.

The US has its own economic problems, but experts say the real nightmare for US companies and banks would be the chaotic disintegration of the Eurozone's financial system; officials in Washington, D.C., fear a financial meltdown on the scale of the crash following the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

President Barack Obama foto Shutterstock.comThe impact of the 2008 financial collapse was not just economic; it was psychological as well. Consumer confidence was badly hit, and the Republican administration's handling of the US economy came under intense scrutiny and was one of the main contributing factors to U.S. President Barack Obama's historic win.

Analysts say Europe's financial woes have seen the US president and his top aides cross the Atlantic a number of times over the past year, as policy-makers in Europe's top capitals struggled to get to grips with the debt crisis. The complaint from Washington, D.C., was that Europe has not been doing enough.

Officials say America's main aim was to keep the pressure on European leaders to sort out their debt problems and explain what's at stake for the world economy.

Europe's problems have not been the only issue at play in the US election campaign. Job creation and America's own domestic economy have been key concerns, although the Republicans put social issues such as the abortion at the center of their platform.

A second term win for President Barack Obama looked increasingly difficult during the early stages of the Democratic campaign. The struggling US economy and high unemployment had his opponents on the attack. And voters expressed disillusionment and skepticism over his signature health care reforms.

Republican rival and former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, also had his work cut out for him; despite the widespread expectation the road to victory would be easy. But hardline Republicans have questioned how conservative he is, and his commitment to the Mormon faith has proved problematic for some.

US fears over Europe's ability to help itself are likely to continue. American officials argue they have played a key part in persuading Europe to deal with its economic problems. Either way, both sides accept that Republicans and Democrats will have to work with Europe's leaders to tackle a crisis that's becoming increasingly global.

ACTIVITIES:

A) Explain in few sentences:

1. Why are the US elections important?
2. Who would you vote for if you were American, and why?
3. What have been the main issues in this election?
4. Why are the events in Europe important to America?

B) Answer the following questions:

1. How many US states are there?
2. Give the names of at least four US presidents.
3. Who was the first American president?
4. Did he already live in the White House?
5. Which president was Abraham Lincoln?
6. What war was there during his presidency?
7. What was his most significant deed in his presidency?


Nina-Maria Potts, UK correspondent