Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Oddest U.S. poll result

Never before had a U.S. presidential race ended in so close a margin that votes had to be recounted on Wednesday after Democrat Vice President Al Gore, who had congratulated Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush following the announcement by television networks that Bush was the winner, retracted his concession.

The networks, including the prestigious Cable News Networks (CNN), earlier announced that Bush had won the election in the State of Florida, thus giving him the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win the No. 1 seat in the White House.

Gore later retracted his concession after the vote count in Florida, the key state in the neck and neck U.S. presidential race on Wednesday, turned out to be too close to call. Bush led Gore by several hundred votes in that state, but election officials argued that there were about 2,200 Floridians who were living overseas whose ballots had yet to be counted. In such a case, a recount was automatic when the margin was that narrow, the officials said.

In a live broadcast by CNN, viewers around the world could hear and see Gore's campaign chairman, William Daley, telling Democrat supporters that the election was not over yet. "Just an hour or so ago, the television networks called this race for Governor Bush. Now it appears that their call was premature."

Watching the dramatic twist of events, one could not but give a thumbs up to the democratic process maturely adhered to by the American people. Gore was ready to admit his defeat and support Bush if and when the Texas governor was officially elected president. But until that moment, "the race is simply too close to call," explained Daley.

No less interesting was that no sooner had Bush been announced "winner" than scores of world leaders sent congratulatory messages to him. This signified how influential and powerful the United States is in the eyes of the world community. Hence it is expected that the uncertainty created by the vote recount in Florida will not last long enough to confuse or even to destabilize world markets and politics.

It has been public knowledge here that whoever wins the election, Washington's foreign policy will not undergo significant changes.

As a fledgling democracy, Indonesia could learn much from Wednesday's U.S. election and from the political maturity the American people displayed in adhering to their democratic principles. No matter how much the contending candidates criticize each other and no matter how enthusiastic their supporters are, once the winner of the contest has been declared, the supporters -- be they Democrats or Republicans -- will stand firmly behind the victor as a united nation and support their elected president.

While many Asian countries expect that a new administration in Washington would enhance the U.S.'s economic and political cooperation in the region while maintaining peace and stability, the Jakarta government, obviously, expects the administration to show more of an understanding of Indonesia's political situation and development, thereby improving the currently strained relations between the two governments.