Internationals’ perspectives on elections

Internationals’ perspectives on elections

by Rena Ketelsen–Have you ever wondered what elections in other countries are like?

As the 2022 midterm election is underway in the US and Americans are being encouraged to vote, another group of people who reside in the country can’t do much more than watch.

Here, at Morningside, that group mostly consists of international students who do not have American citizenship. Their peers can vote and are encouraged to do so by posters, advertisements, and social media posts everywhere. Meanwhile, international students are forced to sit through five long seconds of some Republican or Democrat telling them who to vote for before the skip option becomes available and they can watch a video on YouTube.

Those five seconds, although useless to someone who can’t vote anyway, also serve as a contrast between elections in the US and elections in other countries. Not every country has elections and not every country has as many commercials for candidates as this country does.

Every country is different and so are the elections there, if there are any.

Mikhil Raja is a Freshman from Zimbabwe. His past experience with elections differs slightly from what they are like here. Candidates in the African country travel through the country and host rallies to promote themselves not unlike American candidates. However, they advertise on billboards and outside stores more than anything.

“Most commercials are not broadcasted or online, but they are done by using billboards and flyers”, Raja explained.

According to him, a lot of people vote so it seems that those advertisements do their job.

The situation is a little different in Germany, where there are political commercials that are broadcast. However, those commercials differ from American ones, according to Paula Geiser, a sophomore from Germany. The main point that stands out to her is the way politicians try to get people to vote for them.

“Politicians prefer to speak about what another party lacks rather than focusing on their own strengths”, she stated about American advertisements and rallies.

Her perception of what makes American and German political advertisements different is the less neutral and somewhat offensive tone that American ads have compared to the ones from her native country.

Other countries have none of that. Venezuela stands in striking contrast to Zimbabwe, Germany, or the US in terms of their elections and the way that important politicians are determined. Although the South American country is officially a democracy, elections there are neither free nor fair.

Sara Marrufo, a Freshman from Venezuela, explained, “[Elections] are just for show, votes aren’t really counted.”

She added that there isn’t really any advertisement because there isn’t more than one group to vote for and many of them can’t vote anyway. Generally, new leaders are put in place when the last leader dies according to Marrufo.

She pointed out that “we [Venezuelans] care but we can’t vote so there’s not much we can do.”

In comparison to that, having to look at commercials and advertisements everywhere doesn’t seem like such a bad thing as long as it means that people can vote.

November 8, 2022

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