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10/12/2016

World becomes unpredictable as ‘populist’ Trump wins US election

Global Europe

World becomes unpredictable as ‘populist’ Trump wins US election

Republican candidate front-runner Donald Trump has been an outspoken critic of free trade agreements.

[Gage Skidmore/Flickr]

The Trump victory is sending shockwaves across Europe. This article will be regularly updated as reactions keep coming.

As in the case of Brexit in the UK, US pollsters gave wrong predictions, insisting until the last day that Hillary Clinton had a comfortable lead.

Against the predictions of opinion polls, Donald Trump is set to become the 45th president of the United States. As Republicans gained control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the maverick politician will have enormous powers.

Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta said several states were too close to call, and that “she’s not done yet”.

Podesta urged those at the event to “head home” and “get some sleep,” as they would not be making any further announcements.

Agencies, however, said Trump was the winner, and Hillary Clinton conceded the election by 8:30AM CET.

Simultaneously, speaking at a Brussels matinée organised by the US ambassadors to the EU and NATO, Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, said that with Donald Trump, populism was going to be emboldened across the world.

The two-round French presidential election is due in April/May 2017, with the far-right Marine Le Pen almost certain to make it to the final ballot.

Le Pen congratulated Trump and the “liberated” people of America.

Trump’s pre-election pledge to only help defend Europe as part of NATO if members pay their full dues will also worry the Baltic states, in particular.

Europe should take the opportunity to show it remains the standard-bearer of human rights, he said. “America is going in the opposite direction. What we should do is come closer together and reinforce internal and external policy ahead of key elections next year,” he added, with reference to the presidential election in France and the parliamentary election in Germany.

With Donald Trump, western society weight will be diminished, Gros further argued.

“A democracy that looks at minorities is in decline, while illiberal democracy for the majority is on the rise,” he said, in reference to Europe where Britain voted to leave the EU. The term “illiberal democracy” was in fact introduced by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Hungary, Poland and illiberal democracy

The EU’s problem is that others are following the illiberal regimes of Hungary and in Poland, and it is possible that among them be Germany, writes George Friedman.

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Asked by the EurActiv Chief Editor Daniela Vincenti if the result of the US election could be interpreted as a response to an inequality problem, Gros said that it was not an economic problem, but an identity issue.

“Those that thought were on top politically and culturally are losing out,” Gros said, also in reference to the UK 23 June Brexit referendum.

It’s a matter or ruling by rule of law or rule of electoral majority.

“In Europe, we need to give the sign that we stick together. We’re also thinking of our own defence and own security,” Gros said, adding that ironically, without the UK, a common EU defence was more feasible now.

“With Putin and Trump a common EU defence is a necessity,” he added.

Trump was considered to clearly be the favourite of the Kremlin. As former CIA chief Michael V. Hayden said yesterday (3 November), there has always been a sympathetic authoritarian chord struck between Trump 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 ISIS. Here he follows Moscow’s line that America and the Russians have shared interests and that Russia and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad (and Iran) are “killing ISIS”, Hayden wrote.

Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, tweeted that the biggest winner from Trump’s victory was Putin, while the biggest losers were Ukraine and other Eastern European states intimidated by Russia.

If Europe could vote in the US election…

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.

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Portraits of Putin, Trump and Le Pen made a buzz at a Moscow party last night.

Global financial markets plummeted, as Wall Street futures tumbled as much as 5% and Asian stocks sold off sharply.