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Foreign students talk U.S. politics

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  • Election Day does not involve a trip to the polls for all students
  • Foreign students weight in on U.S. election
  • Politics in Spain change more drastically with elections

On Nov. 4, as groups of students head off to the nearest on-campus polling location, there is one group who won't be following them. These students have their political opinions, they've watched the debates and they know the candidates. But for Marquette's international students, Election Day will not involve a trip to the polls.

Despite the fact that they won't be casting a vote, this diverse group of global students is eagerly awaiting the election and the impact it will have on their home countries.

"I think everyone cares about the United States' economy and the impact the election will have," said Eva Martin, a Spanish international student in the College of Business Administration.

Martin, a self-described unsure voter, said she would most likely vote for Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

"Americans are very lucky," Martin said. "In Spain we have a socialist and a capitalist party so when things change – it's drastic."

Ana Aleman, a Spanish international student in the College of Business Administration and Obama supporter, said politics are taken more seriously in America.

"In Spain, the people think about what is best for the party, but here they think about what is best for the country," Aleman said.

Maria Ordonez, another Spanish international student in the College of Business Administration, said if she were able to vote, she would cast her vote for Republican candidate Sen. John McCain.

"I see similarities in John McCain with the party I vote for in Spain," Ordonez said. "I think he has the solution for the economic crisis and is more concerned with social issues."

Ordonez did admit that her conservative views were in the minority in Spain.

"They are more pro-Obama in Spain," Ordonez said. "They don't really like Republicans."

Renaud Vertommen, a Belgian international student in the College of Business Administration, said he did not care for either major candidate.

"If I could vote, I would vote independent," Vertommen said. "For me, it's a statement that you don't approve of either candidate."

Vertommen noted that Belgian citizens favor the Democratic party 80 percent of the time. He said they see Republicans as bad because of the Iraq war.

He also said he disagrees with the negative television ads bashing their opponents.

"In Europe, we don't have those kinds of campaign ads," he said

Rocio Sanchez, a Spanish international student in the College of Business Administration, said she prefers Obama but already knew about both candidates before she arrived in the states.

"I think that, for the world, it will be better if Obama wins," Sanchez said.

She added that relations between the Spanish president, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and John McCain are not very good.

"No one knows Obama, so, for now, he has a better reputation," Sanchez said.

On the whole, the international students said they relied on local newspapers and press from their own countries and in their native languages for their news and information on the candidates.

According to the Oct. 28 Gallup Poll, Obama is preferred three to one over McCain among world citizens.

The poll reported that 24 percent of citizens would rather see Obama elected, as opposed to only seven percent who prefer McCain. The poll also reported that 69 percent of those polled did not have an opinion.

European citizens are most likely to care about the upcoming election and to feel an impact in their country. On the contrary, the poll reported that people living in Asia are least likely to care.

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