Trump win is a 'difficult moment for the EU'

Russian cheers and EU fears: how Trump's victory was greeted around the globe

Election watchers across the world report fascination and horror as international hard right leaders celebrate outsider Republican nominee’s victory over Hillary Clinton

Wednesday 09 November 2016 08:34
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As a stunned America reflected on the deep divisions revealed within the country as Republican candidate Donald Trump won The White House, the rest of the world has begun to shake itself into reacting to the unprecedented moment in US political history.

The mood at a public party on Tuesday night celebrating a Trump loss in Mexico City - where Mr Trump is very unpopular thanks to his comments on immigrants and plans to build a wall along the US border - soured as the results became clearer.

At the same time, global financial markets went into free fall. The UK's FTSE 100 index is expected to tumble by over four per cent and it is predicted Wall Street will suffer its biggest ever plunge when Wednesday's trading begins. Share prices in Australia, Asia and India have all plummeted as money flows into safe haven stocks and gold.

Front pages talking about a Hillary Clinton win in time zones in Europe and Asia ahead of the US had to be pulped on Wednesday morning. Newspapers and websites took varying approaches to Mr Trump's victory, from Australia to the president-elect's home state of New York:

In the political sphere, European Council and Commission leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker said in a congratulatory letter to Mr Trump that "it is more important than ever to strengthen transatlantic relations" in the face of global threats such as terrorism, climate change and migration, inviting the president-elect to visit Europe for talks as soon as possible.

French President Francois Hollande was not as optimistic about Mr Trump's victory, warning that the world was entering a "period of uncertainty" as a result. "This context calls for a united Europe, capable of making itself heard and of promoting policies whereever its interests or values are challenged," he said in a televised address.

German Defence Minister Ursula van der Leyen called the result a "huge shock," with a member of the Reichstag's foreign affairs committee warning that "geopolitically we are in a very uncertain situation."

"We're realising now that we have no idea what this American president will do if the voice of anger enters office and the voice of anger becomes the most powerful man in the world," Norbert Roettgen told German radio.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg and governments around the world - including UK Prime Minister Theresa May - also sent messages of congratulations ranging from neutral to lukewarm welcoming "continued relations" with the US. By way of contrast, right-wing fringe and nationalist leaders were quick to express delight with the result which snatched the election from the pollsters' predicted victor Hillary Clinton.

Leader of the French right-wing Front National (FN), Marine le Pen, offered her congratulations to the president-elect and the "free American people."

Pauline Hanson, the leader of Australia’s far right populist One Nation Party, tweeted her wishes to Mr Trump after the pivotal swing state of Florida was called in his favour in the early hours of the morning in the US. “Mr President my door will always be open. Congrats,” she wrote.

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Far-right Dutch politician Geert Van Wilders also offered his congratulations preemptively. “The people are taking their country back,” he said, “and so will we.”

Ukip's Nigel Farage - who spoke at Mr Trump's campaign rallies - called the result, alongside the UK's exit from the European Union, part of the "two big political revolutions of 2016."

In Russia, where many Kremlin officials and media had been drumming up the possibility of electoral fraud and conspiracy theories that would ensure a Ms Clinton win, many politicians were jubilant on Wednesday - including President Vladimir Putin, who sent a congratulatory message to Mr Trump saying that he hoped there could be a "constructive dialogue" between the two countries.

“I am convinced sanctions [on Russia] will be dropped completely,” Gennady Zyuganov, leader of Russia’s second largest party, the Communist Party, told state media, speculating that Mr Trump will recognise Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Across the Middle East, the reaction was more muted, with many politicians and pundits previously predicting an unsatisfactory result for the Arab world no matter who takes over from President Barack Obama in January.

Anti-American Arab world journalist Abdel-Bari Atwan - whom had not entertained high hopes of either candidate - said of Mr Trump that he “does not expect any goodness,” from a man he said is full of “arrogance and lies.”

Israel, which follows the US elections more closely than most thanks to its high number of dual citizens, had been likely to find a reliable partner in either candidate. Mr Trump has said he will broadly continue current US policy in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Several right-wing members of the Knesset from Israel's ruling party Likud welcomed the result. "It appears the American people are tired of hypocrisy and political correctness and prefer straight talk," politician Yakuda Glick said.

Palestinian analyst Hani Habib said before polls opened that as far as Palestinian interests are concerned, “Any betting on either [candidate] is a losing bet.”

Many Syrians, disillusioned by almost six years of war, were also apathetic, although one activist in east Aleppo joked that while George W Bush bought al Qaeda to the Middle East and Mr Obama bought Isis, Mr Trump will bring "aliens."

Chinese state media, meanwhile, said that the election revealed that American democracy is in a state of crisis, "rebelling" against the country's political and financial elites.

Closer to home, Cubans were dismayed with the choice of the American electorate, as Mr Trump has promised to reverse the process of normalising relations with the communist-run island kickstarted by Mr Obama after decades of political and economic isolation.

“We have to respect whatever decision Trump takes but we don’t want him to be president,” Havana resident Lina Osorio said. “We need relations between the two countries… we have more riding on this election than many Americans.“

In other electoral results early on Wednesday, the Republican party retained control of the US House of Representatives and the Senate, despite modest Democrat gains, putting the US on the edge of sweeping right-leaning legislative change, and all but guaranteeing the current vacancy on the Supreme Court will go to a conservative justice.

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