From Ed Meza in Berlin:
The historic victory of Barack Obama has reignited Germany’s love affair with America. From media pundits to students to taxi drivers, this U.S. election has gripped Teutons like no other.
Not since John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin has a U.S. leader excited the German masses like Obama.
The excitement was tangible at two election parties in the German capital on Tuesday.
Around 1,000 guests turned out for a joint shindig sponsored by CNN, RTL Television, RTL news affiliate N-TV, the American Academy and the U.S. Embassy at the Bertelsmann building on Unter den Linden.
The mood was decidedly pro-Obama: an in-house election among the party guests resulted in a 95% vote for Obama. With the walls covered by monitors tuned in to CNN, the crowd tensely followed the elections, loudly cheering as Obama’s state-by-state victories accumulated.
CNN’s Berlin correspondent Frederik Pleitgen reported live from the event. His father Fritz Pleitgen, president of the European Broadcasting Union, was also on hand. Other invited guests included Bertelsmann topper Hartmut Ostrowski; former U.S. ambassador John Kornblum; and Karsten Voigt, Germany’s Coordinator for German- American Cooperation; in addition to a slew of local media bigwigs.
A stone’s throw away, pubcaster ZDF, the German Marshall Fund and the U.S. Embassy (eagerly playing party organizer) threw a rival bash in the vast halls of the Deutsche Telekom building.
Many of the same guests from the CNN/RTL get-together strolled over to take part in discussions with the ZDF team, led by chief Berlin correspondent Peter Frey, broadcast live throughout the night from its “election center” at the event.
Germans love of Americana was clearly evidenced at the Tempodrom venue not far away, where a concert by rock‘n’roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis attracted hundreds of nostalgic gray-haired fans, young rockabillies and couples doing the jitterbug.
It’s a beloved stereotype of America that Germans still embrace – both election events were draped in red, white and blue and appeared to have the same caterers, with hamburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken, brownies and doughnuts on offer.
ZDF beat out rival webs with its coverage of the elections as Germans stayed up late into the night following the contest. A total of 780,00 viewers tuned in to ZDF from 12am to 3am, resulting in a 15% share for the channel.
With its live broadcast from New York, RTL Television attracted a total of 580,000 viewers, resulting in a 13.3% share.
In total, an estimated 2.5 million viewers in Germany followed the U.S. election live during the wee hours of the morning.