If European nations were voting in the US presidential election, Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide. However, the support for Donald Trump is high in migrant-wary central Europe and in the population in western Europe supportive of far-right and anti-EU forces.
A whopping 86% of Germans would vote for Clinton for US president and only 4% would choose Trump, a recent poll showed. But in other EU countries Trump finds many more supporters, if not at government level, at least among the population.
The EU mainstream politicians are concerned about the new American leadership’s willingness to remain engaged with Europe, and this tipping the scales in favor of Clinton. Recently, the European Peoples’ Party, which normally should be considered the sister grouping of the US Republicans, indicated that it would most likely back Clinton, rather than Trump.
Trump built much of his campaign around controversial remarks about keeping immigrants, Mexican and Muslim, out of the US. He has also made it clear that he is against a strong transatlantic bond, and would not automatically defend NATO members in case of Russian aggression.
The Republican candidate has found sympathy among a significant segment of Europe’s population, both in migrant-wary eastern Europe and in western Europe, where anti-immigrant, anti-EU advocates in Germany, France and Britain are hoping a Trump victory will bolster their causes.
Among those in Europe expecting to benefit from a Trump victory is Nigel Farage and his UK Independence Party, which opposes continued immigration. Farage has campaigned on behalf of Trump in the US. Clinton, Farage said recently, “is part of a big business establishment. Simply, people want change.”
Trump’s stance on immigration and terrorism also resonates among some like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who sees the Republican contender as better for Europe.
The Hungarian leader, an EU critic who built a razor-wire fence to keep out migrants, has praised the Republican’s anti-terrorism proposals that include a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the US Speaking of Trump’s overall plans to stop terrorism, he said.
“I listened to (Trump) and I have to tell you that he made three proposals to stop terrorism. And as a European, I myself could not have drawn up better what Europe needs”, Orbán stated last July.
French President François Hollande, a socialist, obviously fears that a Trump victory would bolster the camp of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is a candidate in the April 2017 French Presidential elections.
“[A Trump victory] could lead to a very strong turn to the right in the world, or to a correction,” Hollande said in August.
“The American campaign shows issues that will be reflected in the French campaign. If the Americans choose Trump, that will have consequences, because an American election is a world election,” Hollande said.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited the White House in October and made statements which can be interpreted as support for Clinton.
“My personal opinion is that the name of future has to be freedom. The name of the future has to be education not intolerance, sustainability not distraction, trust not hate, bridge[s] not walls,” he said, in an apparent reference to Trump’s declared ambition to build a wall on the US border with Mexico.
According to Balkan Insight, the diaspora from the former Yugoslavia in the US is divided. Most Serbian Americans champion Donald Trump, while most Albanians, Bosniaks, and Montenegrins lean towards Clinton.
In Serbia, where the memories of the 1999 NATO bombings against the then Yugoslavia are still alive, a fake interview was published in the magazine Nedeljnik, in which reportedly Trump apologised for the military operation.
The magazine quotes Trump saying: “The bombing of Serbs, who had been our allies in both world wars, was a big mistake. Serbs are very good people. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration brought a lot of harm to them, to all the Balkans, where they created chaos.” But the Trump camp was quick to announce that the apology interview was a hoax.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a post-Yugoslav country still divided along ethnic lines, the Bosniaks in downtown Sarajevo (mainly Muslim) support Clinton, while the Serbs in the Eastern district of the capital have a clear preference for Trump.
Trump is clearly the favourite of the Kremlin. As former CIA chief Michael V. Hayden said yesterday (3 November), there has always been a sympathetic authoritarian chord between the Republican presidential nominee and the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Trump routinely comes to the defence of his Russian soulmate, the former CIA chief said. Sounding simultaneously populist and a little bit the conspiratorial Marxist, Trump has claimed that unseen forces could rig the US election. “It’s a theme that Putin is happy to echo”, Hayden wrote in the Washington Post.
The former CIA chief stresses that Trump also echoes Putin when it comes to Syria and the Islamic State, or ISIS. Here he follows the Moscow line that we and the Russians have common purpose and that Russia and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad (and Iran) are “killing ISIS”, Hayden wrote.
- DW: What Germans hope and expect from the US election
- VOA: Europe’s divided expectations on US election
- The Washington Post: Former CIA chief: Trump is Russia’s useful tool
- Bloomberg: Orbán says Donald Trump better for Europe
- Politico: Trump camp says Serbia apology interview was a hoax
- Balkan Insight: Clinton-Trump battle divides Bosnian capital
- Balkan Insight: Clinton set to harvest most Balkan diaspora votes