'Dignity Is Back': What Europe's Media Said about Joe Biden Inauguration

Major European newspapers struck an optimistic but cautious tone in their coverage of Inauguration Day as they analyzed the significance of a shift in power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Above the fold on the front page of the largest circulation French newspaper Le Figaro, a centre right daily, was the headline "Joe Biden's dream of unity", next to an image of the newly-minted president smiling at those attending in front of the U.S. Capitol.

An op-ed on the inside pages by Philippe Gélie described how "America loves these 'new beginnings' symbolized by solemnly staged presidential investitures," and usually they were observed from overseas with "a mixture of admiration and skepticism."

"This time, we hear a sigh of relief from everywhere. After Donald Trump's upside-down world, where brutal regimes were pampered and democracies bullied, Joe Biden promises to put the world right side up, with allies treated as partners," he wrote.

President Joe Biden during his inauguration
President Joe Biden during his inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. Europe's newspapers focused on his inauguration and what it meant for the world. JONATHAN ERNST/Getty Images

The front page of Le Monde had a striking image taken at dusk of Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff facing the Washington Monument. "Between Biden and Trump, a hostile transition" read the headline.

Biden started "to turn the page of Donald Trump's four years in office," wrote Gilles Paris, adding, "with several strokes of the pen, Joe Biden opened his mandate by signing seventeen presidential decrees."

Spanish paper, El Mundo, had the image of the new president and carried the headline: "Joe Biden: There is much to heal in the U.S." Meanwhile, the image on the front page of another Spanish daily, El Pais, showed Biden's left hand planted on the Bible with his right hand in the air at the moment he took the oath of office, with the first lady at his side.

"Democracy has won" read the headline, quoting Biden from the speech he was to give moments later.

The newspaper's editorial headlined "Reconstruction of the West" looked at the global significance of the new presidency and said that the "the journey to the end of the night that the United States, and the West, have suffered with Donald Trump at the helm has concluded."

"Four years of democratic degeneration, systematic lies, encouragement of the worst human instincts, and incompetent administration are ending. The legacy left behind is division, distrust, resentment.

"The arrival of Joe Biden to the White House as the 46th president of the United States heralds a new day and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate," it said.

German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung also had the headline "Democracy has won." An article by its New York correspondent Thorsten Denkler titled "The principle of dignity is back" reported that Biden has threatened to fire anyone who treats anyone disrespectfully.

THE TIMES: Time for unity #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/r8dMWod1oX

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) January 20, 2021

"He wants dignity, decency and honor to become respectable terms in the country's political culture again," Denkler wrote, "after four years of Trump, this is a new tone in the White House."

The front page of the Russian daily Kommersant used a play on words in its headline "Come on Every-Biden!" with a photo of the new president watching Lady Gaga perform.

However the article by Alexei Naumov gave a more downbeat assessment, saying that the inauguration "was unlike any that had preceded it" and that the huge security presence in Washington, DC on Wednesday could be compared to "U.S.-occupied Baghdad."

It said that "the notable silence from the absent spectators" as well as "the field strewn with flags" made it look like "an American military cemetery and created a rather depressing impression."

The front page of tomorrow's Daily Telegraph:

'End this uncivil war'#TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/ujic6aTsZr

— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 20, 2021

An image of Biden and the first lady covered three-quarters of the front page of The Times of London, next to the headline "The 46th president, Time for unity." On its inside pages, columnist Quentin Letts also described the unusually empty scene in front of the Capitol as a "something of a Kurosawa battlefield scene to those wind-whipped standards."

Another British paper, The Daily Telegraph, had the image of the swearing in ceremony, with the headline quoting Biden "End this uncivil war." An article by columnist Allister Heath expressed concerns for the future of the U.S. even though Biden's speech "struck the right notes."

Speaking about the U.K, he wrote: "Our fate is inseparable from America's: if the Republic falls, if individual liberty, constitutional democracy, free markets and equality before the law fail, so does the whole of the West."

The graphic below, provided by Statista, compares the number of troops on Inauguration Day with U.S. troops deployed overseas.

Washington D.C. Troops for Inauguration Day Statista