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8/31/15

USA - Donald Trump 2016: Europeans are obsessed with the brash real estate mogul - by Nicholas Vinocur

Since the real estate mogul made a shocking surge to the top of the Republican presidential polls in the U.S., Europe has fixated on the unapologetic showman, churning out a steady stream of news coverage and commentary.

The Continent has its share of outrageous personalities on the political right of center: Britain’s Nigel Farage, Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, France’s family Le Pen. But Trump fits many perceived European stereotypes of America: excess, vulgarity, ignorance, superficiality, love of wealth, to name a few.

“Trump represents the America that we love to hate,” said Marie-Cécile Naves, a sociologist and author of “Le nouveau visage des droites américaines” (“The New Face of the American Right”). “He is our negative mirror image, a man we see as brutal, who worships money and lacks culture — someone who lets us feel a bit superior about being European.”

In Europe’s capitals, feelings of superiority sometimes translate as concern for an ignorant American public that Trump, described by Britain’s Observer newspaper as a “malign buffoon,” is supposedly exploiting. “His constituency is ignorance,” the Observer wrote on Aug. 9 in an unsigned editorial. “In this, he is heir to a long, inglorious American tradition.”

In France, editorialist Alexandre Vatimbella called him a “provocative clown” whose brand of populism was dangerous for democracy, while Germany’s newspapers have reached a consensus around the label “Großmaul,” or loudmouth.

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