The world’s press has reacted to the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris with relief and cautious optimism, with many borrowing a line from the President’s speech for their headlines, “Democracy Has Prevailed.”
London’s Evening Standard is breathless. “Wow, what a speech,” it comments. “In poetry and passionate rhetoric, Joe Biden gave the arrival of a new President the sense of occasion that the world had been waiting for.”
Newspapers worldwide are sober in their analysis of the scale of the challenge facing the new U.S. leader. The Evening Standard observes that “the damage inflicted on the U.S., liberty and the very idea of truth [by Donald Trump] will stay with us for years.” India’s The Hindu notes that Biden is taking “the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.”
Martin Kettle, a journalist for the left-leaning British paper The Guardian, says of Biden: “There is no one in American politics better placed to begin the healing of [the nation’s] wounds.” However, he cautions: “The battle to extend and bolster democratic values needs to be as sleepless as the tradition of those who oppose them.” He adds: “Disunion can wreck a nation.”
There is, of course, optimism in the international press, too.
London’s Financial Times looks forward to a strengthening of U.S. ties with Europe. “Expect 18 months of happy hand-holding events that put the post-war alliance system back at the heart of U.S. relations with the rest of the world,” it predicts. However, it notes that “a Biden administration bid to restore American leadership will require time and political capital just when the superpower’s global role stands in doubt at home and abroad.”
Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung highlights the President’s pledge to “repair our alliances, and engage with the world once again.” It notes the positive responses of European leaders such as Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, who on Twitter thanked Biden for his “inspiring inaugural address and for the offer to cooperate,” adding: “Europe is ready for a fresh start.”
The paper also includes the rather tart response from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, president of Germany, who — while declaring it to be a “good day for democracy” — has also underscored the European Union’s autonomy from the U.S. in international affairs. “The EU chooses its own course and does not wait for permission to make its own decisions,” Steinmeier says.
In a column in The Irish Times, diplomat Jim Sharkey lauded the President’s Irish roots, noting that he “comes to the presidency with a commendable record of engagement on Irish affairs,” adding that “he will emphasize the priority of political reconciliation” in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Like many newspapers, Spain’s most popular title, El Pais, focuses on Biden’s call for unity and an end to the “uncivil war,” and comments that it is “a day of hope” both for Americans and their allies abroad. Concluding its coverage of the inauguration, the paper says America has begun its journey on “the hard road to reconciliation.”
Naman Ramachandran and Jamie Lang contributed to this report.