Black Europeans pin political hopes on Obama

Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:14am EDT
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By Stephen Brown

ROME (Reuters) - Many black Europeans say victory for Barack Obama in the U.S. election might set an example that could help remedy their under-representation in European politics.

But they emphasize that the U.S. Democrat inspires a massive following in Europe through his ideas and charisma, not just because of his color.

"He is the first black to achieve what he is achieving but that would not be sufficient to follow him," said Patrick Lozes, head of France's Representative Council of Black Associations. "Nobody would have supported him just because he is black."

"I hope Obama wins because of his performance, not because he's black," agreed Innocent Ekhorutumwek, a 26-year-old Nigerian street vendor in Rome.

With less than two weeks to the November 4 election, Obama has a solid lead over Republican John McCain in many polls, cheering fans in Europe whom he wowed during a visit in July.

Some, like Michael Eboda, CEO of a British media consultancy and former editor of black newspaper New Nation, wonder whether "when it comes down to it, white Americans who probably don't know any black people will let one run the country."

The 47-year-old Illinois senator with a Kenyan father and white American mother has support well beyond black communities.

Not only Democrat sympathizers but conservatives too have welcomed the boost Obama has given to black people, underlining the historic symbolism of a black man contesting the leadership of the world's most powerful nation.   Continued...

<p>US Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, October 22, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young</p>