MAINZ, Germany – As soon as Barack Obama's presidential victory was confirmed, German media outlets cheered what they hoped would be a big change from the Bush years.
"America – risen from ruins," said the headline on the Web site of Germany's national newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
"Historic victory for Obama. America has shown: everything is possible," Germany's mass-circulation BILD newspaper exclaimed online.
|An Obama supporter holds a placard which states 'Obama for chancellor' during an election party at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany on Nov. 4.|
Interest in this year's U.S. election was exceptionally high in Germany, with millions of viewers staying up all night to watch election coverage.
While only a small number of visitors trickled in at German election night parties in 2004, more than 2,000 people alone attended a party organized by the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday night, just one of several events that took place in the German capital.
Obama won over a lot of the German public when he visited last summer.
"Obama is a very charismatic man, we were already impressed by his visit earlier this year," said one young German at the embassy event who had also been among the crowd of an estimated 200,000 people at Obama's speech in Berlin last July.
Media coverage of his victory was effusive, almost over the top.
"Here are images from an election that has changed America, yes, will maybe even change the world," said Peter Frey, the Berlin bureau chief of German broadcaster ZDF and host of the station's all-night election coverage, as he introduced a report on the U.S. election.
Almost apologetically, the moderator of ZDF's breakfast show told viewers that they had not tried to select only pro-Obama soundbites, but in fact, they weren't able to find any people on the street who didn't applaud Obama's victory.
Despite the extensive focus on the election winner, Sen. John McCain also earned the respect of reporters in Germany and was described as a noble rival after he gave his concession speech, in which he promised support for Obama.
"A very respectable man," said ZDF anchorman and former Washington correspondent Steffen Seibert.
"McCain appeared as a fair loser. It seems he made a real mistake when choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate," a reporter on the RTL channel said. "He was a candidate who failed to enthuse the masses and as a consequence, lacked the financial means for his campaign."
Yet, in the midst of all the euphoric reactions, experts warned that expectations among Europeans for Obama might be too high.
"Obama will not be an easy partner. Why should he? But he will be a partner who we will approach and who will approach us," said Karsten Voigt, the coordinator of German-American Cooperation in Germany's Foreign Office.