“Maine Fou”, “verrückte Mönch”, “Mad Monk” – this unfavourable portrayal of the new Australian Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott was splashed in headlines in the main media across Europe.
Abbott is mostly expected to be a ‘Prime Minister for Australian affairs’ and no significant change is anticipated in Australia’s foreign policy.
Three pillars of Abbott’s domestic policy were identified: a tough line on immigration, spending cuts and a repeal of a controversial tax on carbon emissions, for which the German Der Spiegel labelled him a “climate killer”.
The British Independent predicted that under Abbott’s administration Australia becomes “conservative, less green and more mean”.
The UK’s Daily Telegraph considered the election result a “win for the Christian conservative” in the tradition of George W. Bush and Stephen Harper.
The France Le Monde has anticipated a strengthened relation between the state and the church, and remarked that Abbott is “little known for his sharp mind”.
Rather than on Abbott’s political career and views, the media focus on his personal life prevailed in the European newspapers, portraying him first of all as a fanatical sportsman and former trainee priest.
In the Czech press, he was described as an unpopular and unelectable “master of bad jokes, sexist comments, bigoted Catholic in a protestant country and a staunch Conservative”.
Whether Mr Abbott succeeds in winning international credibility and respect, it remains to be seen, but one thing seems to be clear: his foreign media image can only change for the better.