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European political leaders and newspapers seemed to take delight with word of the Democrats’ triumph and subsequent resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

United Kingdom newspapers led with headlines such as “Rumsfeld is casualty of war,” “American zero,” and “It’s the war, stupid.”

In Britain, left-wing Labor Party lawmaker John McDonnell was quoted in Germany’s Der Spiegel as saying, “The message of the American people is clear — there needs to be a major change of direction in Iraq. Just as in Britain, people in the U.S. feel that they have been ill advised, misled and ignored.”

In Paris, the conservative French daily newspaper Le Figaro gave the Rumsfeld resignation front-page play. The main headline, translated, read: “After the Democrats’ victory, Bush sacrifices Rumsfeld.”

Italians have a keen interest in the results of U.S. politics, knowing well that policies emanating from the White House drive political conditions around the world.

To listen to or read headlines of Italian news reports alone, you’d think Bush himself ran for office, as television, radio and Web-based news organizations hyped various stories leading with the words: “Bush loses.”

The U.S. midterm election results led Wednesday evening Italian news broadcasts.

On Thursday morning, the Italian news wire service, ANSA, led its morning Web site report with the headline: “Bush does Rumsfeld in, Democrats also conquer the Senate.”

The Milan-based daily Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest circulated daily newspaper, led its Thursday Web edition with the headline: “Bush beat, Rumsfeld resigns,” followed by a story headlined: “Republicans KO (knocked out): House and Senate go to Democrats.”

Italian Premier Romano Prodi said Rumsfeld’s surprise resignation in particular underscored the depth of what has happened in America.

“Even though U.S. politics had already started changing, Rumsfeld’s resignation means an accentuation of this change,” Prodi said. “We’ll see over the next few days what the new direction will be. But certainly we have a political structure both in the executive power, in the House and in the Senate that is deeply different from that of a few days ago.”

The ruling Socialist Party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, who pulled Madrid’s troops out of Iraq after his surprise election victory in March 2004, said the vote was a thumbs down to Washington’s strategy on the war on terrorism, according to a report from Reuters.

“The great loser is U.S. President George W. Bush, and, especially, his foreign policy,” Jose Blanco, the party’s organization secretary, said on a blog. “(Americans now) realize that invasions like that of Iraq don’t get rid of the radicals, but have precisely the opposite effect.”

In a joint statement, more than 200 Socialist members of the European Parliament hailed the American election results as “the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world” and said they left the Bush administration “seriously weakened,” according to a Reuters report.

Stripes reporters Kevin Dougherty, Sandra Jontz and Steve Mraz contributed to this story, as did The Associated Press.

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