USA. The election year began with a primary election in
the Republican Party. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt
Romney was the best, even though he appeared most as a
compromise candidate. No other candidate succeeded in
gaining more support, and it became clear that he was going
to challenge Barack Obama in the presidential election. The
Democrats held no primary elections; as incumbent president,
Obama was given as the party's candidate.
A shooting death in Florida in February raised questions
about racial profiling and state laws that give far-reaching
right to self-defense. A security guard in a residential
area shot dead an unarmed black 17-year-old and was then
released by police without investigation after claiming he
acted in self-defense. The case caused a storm of protest.
Six weeks later, the guard was arrested and charged with
countryaah, the Supreme Court came in June with a ruling that many
saw as the most important in decades due to the political
explosiveness of the issue. The Court found that the
disputed health insurance reform of 2010, "Obamacare", was
constitutional with the exception of certain details. Above
all, the court approved the most disputed part: the law's
requirement for individual individuals to obtain health
insurance. The decision, which was taken with the voting
numbers 5-4, was seen as a huge success for Obama.
Republicans vowed to tear up reform in victory in the fall
Before the party convention in August, Romney appointed
Congressman Paul Ryan as its vice presidential candidate.
Ryan was seen as very conservative and was believed to
strengthen Romney's position among host conservative voters
far out on the right.
Romney was battling headwinds, despite Republicans having
reason to hope that the continued weak economy would impede
Obama's reelection. Unemployment remained above 8% - a high
figure in the US - and the economic recovery was slow.
Romney portrayed himself as a successful businessman who was
better placed than Obama to save the economy. The Democrats,
in turn, portrayed Romney as a greedy multi-millionaire, far
from ordinary people and their everyday lives.
At the end of October, Hurricane Sandy swept over the
East Coast, one of the more severe storms of modern times
that hit the country. Over 130 people were killed and the
major floods caused enormous material damage. Thousands of
people in New York City got through for weeks without
electricity, and gasoline rationing was introduced.
President Obama was considered to handle the crisis well,
which was supposed to strengthen his position before the
The result of the November 6 election gave a largely
unchanged political position. Obama was re-elected, his
party retained control of the Senate while Republicans also
remained in the House of Representatives majority. Obama
received 50.7% of the vote and 332 of the 538 electoral
votes in the indirect election, which decides who becomes
the country's head of state and government. In Congress,
Democrats increased slightly in both chambers. In three
states, voters said yes to gay marriage, and in two states
to legalize cannabis.
A political scandal ensued in the days following the
election, when CIA chief David Petraeus resigned after it
was discovered that he had had an extramarital affair with a
woman who wrote a biography of him. Petraeus, former
commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, was believed to have
exposed the country to a security risk through the deal. A
long-winded tangle was discovered that also involved
Petraeus's successor in Afghanistan, John Allen, who came
under investigation for "inappropriate" email correspondence
with another woman.
Soon, there were also allegations that Petraeus's
departure was part of an attempt to lay dim curtains about
an attack on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi
in September, when the US ambassador and three other
Americans were killed. The attack was first said to be part
of a spontaneous demonstration against a film that blamed
Islam, but turned out to have been a planned Islamist act.
Republicans accused the White House of misleading the public
on the issue.
The debate over the country's liberal gun laws flared up
again in December, after a young man shot dead 26 people -
including 20 low-school children - at a school in Newtown,
Connecticut. The offender also took his own life and his
motives remained unknown.
Towards the end of the year, the gaze was directed at the
so-called budget halt that was expected at the turn of the
year and would automatically mean that tax cuts were
abolished and budgetary restrictions entered into force
unless Congress reached a new settlement. The effect was
predicted to be devastating in the already weak economy in
the US and the world. The ideological differences were
obvious: Republicans did not want to see any increased taxes
or reduced appropriations for the defense, Democrats opposed
cuts in support for unemployed and low-income earners.
However, a compromise was reached at the last moment.