World Reacts to Schwarzenegger's Win

From an Internet chat room in China to Arnold Schwarzenegger's boyhood home in Austria, the world marveled Wednesday at a uniquely American political triumph with more suspense than a Hollywood script.

After partying the night away, Austrian dignitaries and admirers in the movie star's home region celebrated his election as governor of California by claiming him anew as one of their own.

In a local bar, dozens mingled over a breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee, breaking into cheers and applause when Schwarzenegger's victory speech -- dubbed into German -- was broadcast live on big-screen TVs.

"He's one of us," Waltraud Klasnic, the governor of Schwarzenegger's home province of Styria (search), told reporters. "And this is going to push us a little bit more into the foreground on the international stage."

"Many people in the world -- and in America -- now know where Styria is."

Austria's leadership welcomed Schwarzenegger to politics.

Schwarzenegger, who won the recall election that ousted Gov. Gray Davis (search), has "a large task ahead of him, and we are confident that he will succeed in bringing California out of the crisis," Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel (search) said in a congratulatory message.

"His success, at first in sport, then professional and now political, shows America and the world what good workers Austrians are globally," Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner (search) said.

Schwarzenegger's victory led the morning news in Russia.

NTV television reported that "the third-generation Terminator will lead the state," where it said voters believed in his promises to restore order after blaming Davis for economic problems.

"Many still associate `Iron Arnie' with a hero who saves the world from the bad guys," NTV reported.

In France, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said he had mixed feelings about Schwarzenegger's win, but acknowledged that it was a significant achievement.

"Someone who's a foreigner in his country, who has an unpronounceable name and can become governor of the biggest American state -- that's not nothing," Sarkozy told RTL radio.

In communist China, where leaders aren't democratically elected and dissent isn't tolerated, several Internet users posted messages on a news commentary board at the popular Web site

"This cannot be imagined in China," said one, who did not sign the message.

In Japan, TV news gave the Hollywood star's victory top billing. "It's the American dream," said Hideya Sugio, the anchor of the evening news at TBS, a national network.

Erik Aasard, head of the Swedish Institute for North American Studies at the University of Uppsala, said the outcome could be explained only by voter dissatisfaction with the economy.

"The only way to explain this is not so much that Schwarzenegger is an attractive candidate -- which he certainly is -- but that the voters are enormously dissatisfied with the California administration, and especially the fact that the economy has been so bad for the past years," Aasard said.

In the Philippines, former actor and ousted President Joseph Estrada (search) urged Schwarzenegger to serve the people by bringing his on-screen heroics to politics.

"The so-called learned people, with all their master's degrees, have no monopoly on leadership," Estrada said by telephone from a military hospital detention suite. He has been held on corruption charges since being deposed amid massive protests two years ago.

The actor's election win dominated radio and TV news headlines in Britain, and London's afternoon daily, The Evening Standard, dedicated almost its entire front page to a photo of Schwarzenegger and his wife celebrating victory under the headline: "The Governor."

"Mr. Schwarzenegger has had a relatively easy ride to the governor's mansion," the paper wrote in its editorial. "Now he will need all the Terminator's steeliness to tackle the problems that mired his predecessor."

Back in Austria, Frank Bogen, a 73-year-old former diplomat, described how he spent the night listening to news on the race.

Many here, Bogen said, feel a strong emotional connection to Schwarzenegger.

"He has real friends here," Bogen said, adding that Schwarzenegger is also loved because of what he has done to promote the reputation -- and the economy -- of the region.

During the filming of "Red Heat," (search) Bogen recalled, Schwarzenegger insisted that snowy scenes be filmed in his country. Other scenes were filmed in neighboring Hungary.

"Even though he's a full-fledged American, he has never denied where he came from," he said. Schwarzenegger became a U.S. citizen in 1984.

The breakfast celebration took place in downtown Graz (search) -- a historic city in southern Austria located just a few miles away from Schwarzenegger's boyhood home, Thal (search).

The night before, hundreds of partygoers packed into the bar to cheer on Schwarzenegger.

Chanting "Go, Arnie, go!" from time to time, the revelers sipped "Gouvernator" and "Stars-and-Stripes" cocktails in the bar, which was decorated with "Join Arnold" campaign fliers and red, white and blue balloons.

One partygoer, Lisa Anderwald, a 21-year old makeup artist whose family lives in the Schwarzenegger's former home, came to show her support for the man who got her a job working on special effects during the filming of "Terminator 3."

"He's a hardworking man -- and he really helped me," Anderwald said.

Many at the Tuesday and Wednesday celebrations say they are even convinced that Schwarzenegger also has chances of becoming U.S. president one day if he sets his mind to it -- and the Constitution is changed to allow foreign-born Americans to run.

In Britain, the William Hill betting agency set the odds of Schwarzenegger becoming president of the United States at 50-1 after accepting a number of bets that it would happen.

"If they ever change the Constitution, it would be for him," Bogen said.

"And it would be proof that in America, everything is possible."