Trump gaining ground

After his victories on Super Tuesday and in the New York primary it seems increasingly likely that the businessman Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate in the US presidential election. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton has consolidated her lead against Bernie Sanders. Who will be the next US president?

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Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

The boor gets better

Donald Trump's success in the New York primary shows that he has become more mature, writes Jyllands-Posten:

“Donald Trump has won the support of a large group of middle-class Republicans whose living standards haven't improved for years and who feel sidelined by American politics. They have watched their party push through tax benefits for the wealthier while the hard-working middle class always lost out. … Whereas Trump often shot from the hip at the start of his campaign, now he has an experienced team that knows how to mould a president. This has had a positive impact on his most recent appearances. We still don't know what the businessman's whole agenda for the US superpower looks like. But judging from the way he has matured we have good reason to believe that Donald Trump is the best the Republicans have to offer for the next presidential election campaign.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Clinton must learn how to tackle Trump

Hillary Clinton should look to Europe for guidance if she ends up having to run against the populist Trump, the former social democratic politician Wouter Bos advises in his column for the centre-left daily De Volkskrant:

“The Clinton strategy appears to have been designed according to the rules of normal political battle. But populists don't stick to the rules, and that will also apply for the battle against Trump. It will get ruthlessly personal, there will be attacks and counterattacks, lies will be told and quickly forgotten (also by the voters). In such battles there is no limit to the crudeness, inconsistencies are the rule rather than the exception, opponents are ridiculed, integrity called into question. And all that actually still works. Clinton's team could have learned how this functions in Europe. But can it also learn from us how to beat populists?”

Jornal i (PT) /

Sanders more dangerous than Trump

While the Republican Donald Trump is marching from one victory to the next in the US primaries, Hillary Clinton is having a tougher time against her rival Bernie Sanders. For the centre-left daily Jornal i Sanders represents the real danger to the country:

“Trump is not undemocratic. He stands for democracy in its fullest form. Unfortunately it happens to be a dirty, crude, populist form of democracy. ... Neither side of the establishment would hesitate to unite against a president who simply can't behave himself and is ready to insult whoever it takes to get elected. ... But in fact it would be more problematic if the US were led by Bernie Sanders' economic idealism. Unlike Trump's campaign, Sanders' is not just a show. But the financial disaster it would cause would hit Europe's markets hard.”

Libération (FR) /

Success not down to voters' stupidity

In the current primaries Donald Trump is reaping the rewards of years of hard work on the part of the Republican Party, historian Romain Huret writes in a guest commentary in the centre-left daily Libération:

“While part of the American left is paralysed by the mistakes of the left-leaning government, the Republicans have adopted the methods used by all social movements: permanent, rigorous campaigning at he grassroots level. Consequently Trump is not the result of a paranoid America or a plot hatched by billionaires; he is the result of the tenacious militancy of a conservative America. ... It is important to avoid simple explanations and to look the America Donald Trump represents in the eye.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Donald Trump is reaching those who lost out

Donald Trump is striking a chord with those Americans who are feeling the consequences of the US's economic policy, the centre-left daily La Repubblica comments:

“It may be that the economists are right and that in the long run thanks to ever freer trade our situation will continuously improve. But the fact is that the US has lost more than seven million jobs in the manufacturing industries. … A study by the Brookings Institution shows that the average income of workers without a degree dropped by 20 percent between 1990 and 2013. Another study shows that the mortality rate of white males aged between 45 and 54 without a degree is increasing. The main causes of death are suicide, alcoholism and drugs. In other words the problems Trump is talking about are real, even if most of his solutions are wrong. If the traditional parties - and above all the Democrats - don't take the reasons for the Americans' discontent seriously we may be in for a nasty surprise in November.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

A billionaire fights for the forgotten

Branding Trump's supporters as ignorant racists misses the mark, the centre-right daily Jyllands-Posten contends:

“When an American worker sees his job outsourced to China and huge numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico, when he feels his safety is threatened by radical Islamists and he can't be sure that the American dream will come true for his children, he will naturally sympathise more with a candidate who talks about such issues than with one who's seen as a puppet of the political and economic elite. You can call Trump's messages populist. ... Nevertheless, and despite his status as a billionaire, he has become an integrative figure for the millions of Americans who feel left out and forgotten, and who have not been taken seriously by the established parties.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

By no means just an American phenomenon

Donald Trump's success is based on a tried and tested formula well known on this side of the Atlantic too, the centre-left daily Der Tagesspiegel believes:

“Right-wing populist demagogues with simple answers to war and crises, globalisation, and the fear of decline, are also successful in Europe. Sometimes they fare even better in the polls than Trump, for example in France, Hungary and Poland. They're even leading the polls in Sweden. Trump is the American version of this phenomenon. What makes him so appealing? His strength reflects the weaknesses of traditional politicians. He has a talent for exposing them. He lays bare the Republican Party's absence of a programme and shows just how little it offers its voters. With his bombastic personality he fills the gaps left by the others.”

The Times (GB) /

Trump would give Putin free rein in Europe

The isolationism in US foreign policy championed by Donald Trump would create a horror scenario for Europe, the conservative daily The Times warns:

“Pulling back from Europe would save billions of dollars, he argues, without reflecting where this would leave the Nato alliance and how much it would encourage Vladimir Putin to gamble further. ... The US defence budget would rise, but Nato would wither. Mr Putin would be allowed his sphere of interest in Europe, unchallenged, because in the Trumpian scheme Russian expansionism does not directly challenge American national interests. ... A president who closes his eyes to the realities of a globalised world and the need for alliances is a dangerous one.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Voters sick of boring campaigns

If Donald Trump is so successful it's also because people have had enough of the slick campaigns of established politicians, writes Marc Fauconnier, CEO of advertising agency Famous, in the liberal daily De Standaard:

“Trump is behaving like an elephant in the china shop of political marketing. ... He attacks not only the Democrats but also his own party establishment. ... US voters are sick of the electoral opportunism that has led to such tiresome uniformity. The marketing goal of pleasing as many voters as possible has backfired on the political class. The indifference regarding colourless candidates with their vague promises and boring campaigns has turned into revulsion. This frustration is the perfect breeding ground for figures who dress up their reprehensible ideas in circus costumes. In this way political marketing becomes a threat to democracy.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Nothing but mud-slinging in US primaries

The Republican primaries are being fought out with nothing but lies and insults, the centre-left daily El Periódico de Catalunya criticises:

“The race for the Republican presidential candidacy is showcasing the worst aspects of politics. After his spectacular victory in Nevada multimillionaire Donald Trump is striding ahead with a demagogic discourse full of lies and falsehoods which thanks to constant repetition have become absolute truths for many people. The ultra-conservative senator Ted Cruz is also hitting out at his rivals with lies and blows below the belt. … The mud-slinging became so vile that his spokesman felt obliged to resign. Election campaigns are extremely competitive by definition, and all the more so in the US system which stages them as races. But that doesn't mean anything goes.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Traditional Republicans must vote for Clinton

The South Carolina primary has made it clear that the far-right wing of the Republican Party is in the lead, the conservative daily Večernji list concludes:

“The old Republican Party is on its deathbed and the conservatives are on the up and up. After Bush's departure and John Kasich's poor showing all the candidates still in the race represent the party's far right. Fifteen years ago this group could never have dreamed of being nominated. … This puts traditional Republican voters who want neither drastic tax cuts for the rich nor the abolition of health insurance for millions of Americans in a peculiar position. They could change sides and give their vote to Hillary Clinton, whose platform looks more like that of a progressive Republican candidate than a typical Democrat's.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Pomp and kitsch for the American soul

With his boastful attitude Donald Trump is successfully exploiting the American's desire for the world to be a better place, the liberal daily La Stampa comments:

“The author Milan Kundera taught us that kitsch is an excellent weapon for rising to power, but the oh-so-intellectual analysts appear to have forgotten this. Many deride Trump's 'vulgarity', but for the average American who has lost his job and status in the crisis that vulgarity represents luxury, wealth and fame. Trump is now winning hands down against the 'moderate Republicans' and evangelists. This is the same base that swept Ronald Reagen into the White House from 1980 to 1984. Workers without a university education who thanks to public spending once had jobs, particularly in the defence sector, but are now being sidelined by globalisation and technology are white, religious men. … Whoever becomes president, Clinton, Rubio or Cruz, will have to appease this discontented mass. But if Trump or Sanders secure a surprise victory we are facing turbulent times indeed.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Many US voters feel betrayed

Donald Trump's easy win is worrying indeed, writes the centre-left daily De Morgen:

“Whether or not Trump makes it all the way, it is profoundly worrying that so many Americans are wild about an immensely wealthy man who insults migrants, women, poor people and journalists in such a despicable way. ... Many people assume that Trump voters will disappear along with their leader and be considered a mere oddity in the years to come. But that is a huge mistake. Because if Trump's success demonstrates anything it's the existence of a huge group of frustrated individuals who feel betrayed not only by the traditional politicians, but also by journalists, the business world and teachers. Anyone who believes these people can simply be ignored only creates more social frustration that will soon or later do enormous harm.”

More opinions

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) / 03 March 2016
  Trump would be an unpredictable US president (in German)
Libération (FR) / 02 March 2016
  Ted Cruz even more radical (in French)