Election Insights from Portugal

I want to thank Jillian York for the invitation to collaborate with this project. Before writing about, let me introduce myself.

My name is Nuno Gouveia. I live in Oporto, Portugal, and I have been a blogger since 2003. I have maintained a blog since September 2007, an independent one, covering the US Election. This summer, I attended the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, as a credentialed blogger. Sadly, the Democratic National Convention didn't gave me a credential and I couldn't go to Denver to cover the Convention. I hope I could provide the readers some appealing insights from the Portuguese blogs and media.

In my first post on Voices without Votes, I want to explain how the Portuguese media are excited about this election, and especially the debates. For this last Presidential debate, on Tuesday, the two cable news network broadcast the debate live, as they did the previous debates. The two channels had live translation in Portuguese, and commentators, in the studio. They finished at 4am, Lisbon time. I don't have anything to report about the audience rates, but there's a lot of a buzz about this election.

You can read in the blogs devoted and enthusiastic defenses of the candidates, in particular of Barack Obama. Sometimes I believe some bloggers and pundits prefer the American politicians than our own ones and I can´t criticize them, because our politicians are not so good.

The first two debates created a lot of discussion in the blogs. The left loves Obama but they don´t like Biden so much . But who they really hates is Sarah Palin. We have bloggers, almost professionals in digging up the dirty stuff about the Governor of Alaska. In the beginning, in particular in the primaries, some in the right showed a lot of respect for Senator Obama. But now, we can see a clearly line between the two sides: left for Obama and right for McCain. And the mainstream media are clearly leaning for Obama, as are most of the Portuguese people.

Here's an insight to how two Portuguese bloggers reacted to Tuesday's Presidential debate. Writing at Arrastão, Daniel Oliveira says:

Quanto ao debate, um modelo insuportável. As regras e a artificialidade do formato tornam tudo aquilo pobre e desinteressante. Debate sem confronto, em que os candidatos respondem ao público em vez de trocarem argumentos, são o contrário do que se precisa quando se tem de escolher. E no entanto o confronto estava lá. Soava era sempre mal.

Momento YouTube: “that one”. Já se espalhou. Nunca é o conteúdo, claro. Mas, na realidade, nestes debates a olhar para as sondagens, o conteúdo vale pouco. Queriam saber o que eles realmente pensam? Foi dito e escrito antes de serem nomeados candidatos. O que interessa nestes debates em que só quem está a perder pode arriscar é mesmo só saber se acontece alguma coisa que trave a provável (até ver) vitória de Obama.

“As for the debate itself, it was an intolerable model. Rules and artificiality of the format makes everything poor and uninteresting. Debate without confrontation, in which the candidates respond to the public instead of exchanging arguments, are the opposite of what you need when you have to choose. And yet the confrontation was there. It always sounded wrong.

YouTube Moment: “that one.” It is already being spread. In this kind of debates, the substance is never the most important. But in reality, looking at the polls, the content is worth little. And if they want to know what they really think? It has been said and written before being nominated candidates. What matters in these debates, where only those who are trailing can be risky, is really know if something happens to halt the likely (to see) victory for Obama.”

From Farmácia Central, Maria João Marques explains:

Neste debate foi McCain a ser deselegante com Obama, tratando-o uma vez como “this” e outra como “that one” – algo que os media, ao contrário das interrupções constantes de Obama no debate anterior, já assinalaram. Estiveram ambos bem, Obama mais forte na parte económica e Mccain mais forte em tudo o resto. Obama lá se embrulhou novamente com os encontros sem pré-condições com o Irão e Coreia do Norte: desta vez até disse que os encontros eram para dizer aos inimigos que não podiam continuar com o presente rumo de acção e, se o fizessem, haveria consequências (algo que pelos vistos Irão e CN não sabem ser a posição dos EUA) e até reconheceu que tal estratégia poderia não ser eficaz! Mas esta embrulhada, num período de paranóia económica e com os media a ajudarem, passa despercebida. McCain mais uma vez usou do humor – algo que os americanos gostam sempre nos seus presidentes e candidatos a, sendo um povo que aprecia sempre a sua joke – e Obama continuou sério e compenetrado.

In this debate McCain was ungraceful with Obama, treating him as “this” and as “that one” – something that the media, unlike the constant interruptions of Obama in the last debate, have pointed out. They both did well, Obama stronger on the economy and Mccain stronger everywhere else. Obama messed up again with the meetings without pre-conditions with Iran and North Korea: this time even said that the meetings were to tell the enemies that they could not continue with this course of action and, if they did, there would be consequences (like if Iran and North Corea do not know U.S. position on this) and even acknowledged that such a strategy could not be effective! But a mess like this, over a period of economic paranoia with the media helping, passed unnoticed. McCain once more used humor – something that the Americans always want in their presidents and the candidates, a people who always appreciate a joke – and Obama continued with confidence and serious.


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  • I don’t understand the useless, poor and disconnected to reality comment from Maria João Marques, in this piece.
    Clearly a right wing supporter.

    I don’t know a single person, from close friends, colleges and co-workers that support MacCain.
    That should be told.

    As far as the debate, the only coherent candidate was Barack Obama.
    He had a message, and seems to have a strategy. Both on economics, and foreign policies.

    Of course the approach of talking with the “enemy” and using all arguments, makes perfect sense. The “prodly alone” policies GWB toke were completely wrong, as we can see everyday and history will remember.
    Sadlly, I think RACE is taking a share in this race. With such a poor, shameful and mogadicious republican portfolio for the last 8 years, and the actual candidate – a lobby supporter, from the corporate establishment, the helped to the corrent state of economy – a white democratic candidate would have this election already won.

    best regards from portugal!
    I wish I could vote for Obama!

    Ricardo Gonçalves

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