From his old school in Indonesia to a Japanese beach town that happens to share his name, people around the world have cheered Barack Obama’s re-election as US president today.
The results of yesterday’s election were closely watched in many countries. Several US embassies held mock elections and threw parties as returns came in.
At Jakarta’s Menteng 01 Elementary School, which Obama once attended, students happily marched with a poster of the president from one classroom to another after hearing that he had defeated Republican Mitt Romney to win a second term.
“Obama wins, Obama wins again,” they shouted. A statue of a young Barry Obama, as he was called as a child, stands outside the school.
“I want to be like him, the president,” student Alexander Ananta said.
The news also thrilled Obama’s former nanny in Indonesia, Evie, who became well known this year following reports of her struggles living a transgender life in the conservative country.
“Hopefully, he will contribute to the betterment of not only American citizens, but to the world as well,” said Evie, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.
China’s Foreign Ministry said President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiaobao phoned Obama to congratulate him. Vice President Xi Jinping, who is to begin taking over this week in China’s once-a-decade leadership transition, phoned Vice President Joe Biden to congratulate him.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had a strained relationship with the American president over his policies on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, congratulated Obama in a text message to reporters.
“I will continue to work with President Obama to preserve the strategic interests of Israel’s citizens,” he said.
In China, Obama’s re-election was good news for people concerned about Romney’s vow to label the country a currency manipulator if elected. Some feared that would ignite a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
“His re-election is in line with what the Chinese people want,” said Hong Zihan, a graduate student who monitored the results at a US Embassy event in Beijing.
For Obama, Japan, the president’s re-election means more opportunity to capitalise on their shared name. Obama means “little beach” in Japanese.
The western coastal town threw a party as they watched the election returns. Hula dancers known as the Obama Girls swayed in homage of the president’s home state of Hawaii, said Obama city hall official Hirokazu Yomo.
“Four more years,” Yomo said. “So we are happy this will continue and help with building our city.”
In Burma, which is pushing political reforms forward after five decades of military rule kept it isolated from much of the rest of the world, some said they were relieved Obama was re-elected because he has chosen to engage rather than sanction their country.
“It is good that President Obama is re-elected. President Obama is very flexible and international relations have improved during his term,” said Thit Oo, a 42-year-old car mechanic.
Washington has started focusing more on Asia since Obama took office. Some Asian countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam, have been looking more toward the US as tensions flare with China over disputed territories in the South China Sea.
“In Asia, he needs to fine tune the building of alliances without overtly appearing anti-China,” Ramon Casiple, a political analyst in the Philippines, said. “At the same time, he needs to encourage countries with border disputes with China that he’s on their side.”
A spokesman for the main Syrian opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council, expressed hope that the election victory would free Obama to do more to support those trying to oust Syrian president Bashar Assad.
“We hope this victory for President Obama will make him free more to make the right decision to help freedom and dignity in Syria and all over the world,” SNC spokesman George Sabra said on the sidelines of an opposition conference on the Qatari capital of Doha.