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Here's what the world thinks of Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy

Here's what the world thinks of Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy
Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik puts the finishing touches on a sculpture featuring the U.S. presidential election at Puri Beach in Orissa, India. (European Pressphoto Agency)

Hillary Clinton earned plenty of banner headlines in the United States this week for becoming the first woman to clinch a major party's nomination for president.

That achievement was hailed in some parts of the world, though viewed as less-than-remarkable elsewhere;  America, after all, would not be the first major country to have a female leader. In Britain, which elected Margaret Thatcher as prime minister in the 1970s, an online poll from the Guardian newspaper asked readers if Clinton had finally helped women shatter the glass ceiling. The query received 75% "no" votes.

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British-born media personality Tina Brown urged Clinton to avoid "likability" and instead imitate the "Iron Lady" Thatcher.

"Mrs. Thatcher had no likability quotient," Brown, former editor of the New Yorker, said on an interview on BBC Radio 4. "Likability does matter but I think authenticity matters more."

In other nations, some were wary of Clinton's hawkish record, while others fretted more about a Donald Trump presidency.

In Germany, Clinton is being welcomed as a strong competitor to defeat Trump, who is widely disliked there.

"I feel sick whenever I think that Trump could become president and in control of the nuclear codes," columnist Franz Josef Wagner wrote in Germany's biggest-selling newspaper, Bild. "Hillary Clinton, please save us from this man. Please save America. By saving America you'll save the world. What a wonderful thought to think that the fate of the world could end up in the hands of a woman."

One March poll found that 78% of Germans would vote for Democrat Clinton compared with 6% for Republican standard-bearer Trump.

"Clinton is seen in Germany as someone who would have a steady hand," Thomas Jaeger, a political scientist at Cologne University, said in an interview. "No matter who you talk to in Germany in any of the parties, most people say they hope the hell that Clinton beats Trump in November."

Mexico City residents were similarly looking forward to Clinton's matchup with Trump in November.

"Hillary's candidacy gives Mexicans a breather after the craziness of Donald Trump," said Guillermo Garcia, a 40-year-old engineer. "All the hate he is generating against Mexicans is very worrisome. I believe that Hillary brings hope."

"Of course it's good news," said Rosalia Sandoval, a 21-year-old law student, who worries she won't be able to study in the U.S. if Trump is elected. "She's an intelligent woman and knows Mexico, and it appears that she supports immigration."

Federico Lopez, a 45-year-old merchant, said he hoped the "señora" beats Trump.

"A Trump win would not suit our countrymen there," Lopez said of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. "They're very worried about getting deported and are putting their hope in the señora. I hope she wins the elections and becomes president of her country for the good of all Mexicans there."

The mood was more divided in the Middle East. Clinton's victory dominated coverage on Israeli radio, Internet and television, with most media noting the historic moment in American politics.

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"The Clinton brand is very strong in Israel," said Stephen Miller, an Israeli American pollster and political strategist, noting that she is seen as strongly pro-Israel and as a leader who would be tough on terrorism. "She is someone who is very familiar with the maps and the leaders of the region … and has received very positive coverage in Israel."

Surveys show that a plurality of Israelis favor Clinton over Trump.

"With Clinton, people feel secure that we know what she is about. She's not going to pull anything on us,'' said Tal Schneider, an Israeli political analyst and blogger. Referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he added, "Bibi knows her and she knows Bibi. And even if there are some bumps, we know what to expect.''

Not surprisingly, there's much less enthusiasm toward Clinton among Palestinians, who see her approach to the conflict with Israel as a continuation of previous administrations and their perceived bias favoring Israel.

"I don't think there's any excitement. The reception is generally negative, first of all because of her statements during the campaign, which have been negative toward the Palestinians," said Ghassan Khatib, the vice president at Birzeit University in the West Bank.

"When she was secretary of State she wasn't balanced -- which is the case for any U.S. presidential candidate," Khatib said. "The impression among Palestinians is that Hillary is going to be as biased against the Palestinians as all previous American presidents."

In Pakistan, Huma Baqai, a Karachi-based political analyst and expert on international affairs, was similarly cool toward a Clinton presidency.

"She will adopt stricter policies towards Pakistan as she is very close to the Zionist lobby," Baqai said. What's more, because of Trump, the playing fields in this election are already tilted against Muslims and Pakistan, Baqai added.

The mood was also tepid among Syrian rebels, who have been hoping for more support from Washington in their struggle against the government of President Bashar Assad. Col. Mohammad Ahmad of the Levant Front, said the U.S. had been "stalling" with its policies on Syria.

"Hillary says she'll change things as an election promotion, nothing more," Ahmad said.

"God could bring about good even through a mangy goat, but with regards to the Americans, the policy of the country is drawn up beforehand, and the president is only the executor," said Maj. Bilal Harba, official spokesman of the Homs Liberation rebel faction. "We hope Clinton's policy will be more responsible and decisive than that of Obama's, but I expect she'll continue in the same path -- but with a bit more firmness."

Pearce reported from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali contributed from Islamabad. Special correspondents Christina Boyle contributed from London; Nabih Bulos from Amman, Jordan; Erik Kirschbaum from Berlin; Joshua Mitnick from Tel Aviv; and Cecilia Sanchez from Mexico City.

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