How divisive is the US election campaign?

Both US presidential candidates are preparing for legal battles to challenge the election results should their party lose, according to Bloomberg news agency. The rifts created during the campaign will dog the US for years and make compromises more difficult regardless of who wins, commentators fear.

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Sme (SK) /

Mudslinging with repercussions

The US will feel the consequences of the mudslinging in the race for the Oval Office for a long time to come, Sme is convinced:

“If Clinton won a normal contest, no doubt a majority of Republicans would accept her as their president. But this has not been a normal contest. As things stand the US will have a president that millions of people would prefer to send directly to jail, even if they don't know what for. They simply believe Trump's unproven accusations. ... These elections will not end, as is usually the case, with celebrations on the one side and an admission of defeat and a show of respect for the winner on the other. Trump's divisive politics, his sexism, his racism and his insults will leave a nasty aftertaste for years to come.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Polarisation will paralyse US after election

The rifts created during the election campaign - including those within the parties themselves - will make the next president's job even more difficult than it already is, US diplomat Richard Haass fears in the Irish Examiner:

“There is little doubt that the US will emerge from this election a divided country with a divided government, regardless of who is president or which party has a majority in either chamber of Congress. ... But no one should think that the only divide in American politics is between Republicans and Democrats. In fact, splits within the two major parties are just as deep, with large and highly motivated factions pulling each to their respective extremes - Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right. This makes compromise on centrist positions all the more difficult to achieve.”

ABC (ES) /

All down to who is the lesser evil

The US election campaign has become absurd, ABC observes:

“Trump has gone a few days without making any of his usual brash comments because he knows that he's better off letting his rival's problems dominate the media spotlight. And this tactic is working since most people are just wondering how it can be that Clinton isn't leading the polls when her opponent is as counterproductive as Trump is. The answer perhaps lies in the fact that the entire campaign has been a confrontation between two figures who provoke strong emotions rather than a confrontation between two programmes. … What is happening in the US now can only be understood according to US criteria. Obama's legacy is less than inspiring, the problem of racism has escalated, the minorities are tending towards abstention faced with a system in which they see themselves as marginalised, the white majority has been mobilised and the debate has boiled down to which of the two candidates is the lesser evil.”

Ouest-France (FR) /

Populism is rooted in racism

Barack Obama's successor will inherit a shattered society, political scientist Dominique Moïsi writes in Ouest France:

“The populist wave that is rolling over the US is rooted in racism. ... During Ronald Reagan's presidency between 1980 and 1988, white America had a black problem. In 2016 multicultural America has a white problem. Naturally I'm not talking about anti-white racism, as certain French polemicists do. No, what we are seeing is the increasingly free expression of racism on the part of petty white people vis-à-vis the 'others', whether they be black, Hispanic, homosexual... If Hillary Clinton does become US president she will inherit a 'broken' country that she will have to 'repair'. Will she be able to? That is the big question.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) /

Will scandals decide the election?

Scandals have often overshadowed the political debates in this campaign and could even determine the outcome of the election, Savon Sanomat fears:

“One gets the impression that the same rules do not apply for the model pupil and the troublemaker. Clinton is dogged by sex mails sent by her assistant's estranged husband, while a dozen women including a former Miss Finland claim they were groped by Trump. Politics is not always fair. In a perfect world sex scandals would belong together with reality TV and other trash entertainment, but US elections are dominated by comparisons of waste bin contents. And they can decide who becomes the president of the world's leading military and economic power.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Not a word on trade or the budget

Decisive economic issues are barely featuring in the US election, Corriere del Ticino writes with concern:

“To all intents and purposes there's been no talk at all about the state budget, while the US initiatives for international trade deals have only been dealt with in passing. These are not only important issues for Americans but also for the world and Europe - Switzerland included. ... The national debt continues to rise, and according to estimates in Washington it will reach 105 percent of GDP by the end of the year. An unusual and alarming figure for the US. As in other countries in Europe and around the world, the debt burden threatens to sap growth resources in the US. How have the candidates addressed this issue? Hardly at all, and poorly. ... It remains to be hoped that whoever is elected president will tackle economic issues with more circumspection.”

Magyar Idők (HU) /

Democrats effectively discrediting Trump

By exploiting Trump's alleged sex scandals the Democrats have managed to show the Republican candidate in a poor light for many of the voters in the Christian conservative camp, Magyar Idők comments:

“Although the allegations against Trump can hardly be proven, the timing is logical in terms of election tactics. Why are Trump's supposed victims going public now? Why didn't they make the incidents of sexual harassment public in all these years? Isn't this because the goal is to discredit Trump and blacken his name just before the election? Precisely! The Democrats' goal is to unnerve the religious, right-leaning voters of the American middle class who would otherwise support the Republicans. States that have so far been firmly Republican are now suddenly swing states, including Utah, where many conservative Mormons live, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.”

Libération (FR) /

Brutal campaign will leave scars

The US government has accused Moscow of seeking to influence the presidential election through hacker attacks. Libération sheds light on Russia's strategy:

“Moscow's immoral goal consists less of wanting to get Donald Trump elected than in shining the spotlight on the less than gleaming corridors of the American superpower. Demonstrating that US practices are hardly any cleaner than those of the Russian camp could increase the American people's distrust of their institutions. We're not there yet: everything points to a bigger voter turnout than usual. Rather than expressing their support for one camp, however, voters will be demonstrating their rejection of the other. So in a week's time it won't be enough to look at the final tally. It will also be necessary to evaluate the scars this violent campaign leaves on society as a whole.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Trump's defeat could trigger unrest

Trump is almost certain to lose the election and yet he will remain dangerous, warns Jutarnji list:

“By threatening not to recognise the results of the election Trump has thrown the legitimacy of the democratic system into doubt. Furthermore this would undermine Hillary Clinton's administration, were she to become president. It could even result in outbreaks of violence if Trump's supporters were to go after minorities and state institutions, in keeping with his threats. ... In Trump's campaign there is no distinction between truth and lies. He'll use any kind of accusation to discredit his adversaries and to stir up hysteria and anger. And if his fans really follow him and refuse to recognise Hillary Clinton's presidency, it could plunge the US into years of unrest.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Elitist left has paved the way for Trump

The fierce opponents on the left are also to blame for the rise of Trump and his ilk, Aftonbladet points out:

“The left didn't create Donald Trump, but populism grows when left-wing movements become a project of an elite that represents neither the workers nor the unemployed. When groups don't clash with each other and aren't forced to make compromises. And populism also grows when parties no longer attempt to change the living conditions that at least partially define people's attitudes, and instead either give up entirely on large groups or try to attract them with harsher rhetoric. … When people live in parallel realities, fears and lies can flourish unopposed and politics remains the preserve of an extremely small group.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Clinton will inherit Trump's agenda

Although the opinion polls are pointing to a Democratic victory the Trump phenomenon will have lasting repercussions for Hillary Clinton, Berlingske is convinced:

“What happens if Trump loses? ... One item will be right at the top of President Clinton's agenda: Taking Trump voters very seriously. They've lost their jobs and their self-respect - and they're expecting a series of reforms from the next president. Reforms for development, for training, and also for jobs. ... Clinton will inherit an agenda from Trump that would not have existed without him. In this way Trump will move into the White House along with her in January 2017. If not in person, at least in spirit. Because the US can't afford to leave millions of employable people without a job or dignity.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Polarization won't end with election

In having to chose between Clinton and Trump the Americans are not to be envied, Mladá fronta dnes comments:

“Only a few will be voting for their favourite; most will just be choosing the lesser evil. The growing support for other candidates is a sign of the people's disappointment with what the Democrats and Republicans are offering. In 2012 Obama and Romney won more than 98 percent of the votes between them. Four years earlier Obama and McCain secured even more. Clinton and Trump can expect to obtain 85 percent at the most. This shows that many voters can't even muster the enthusiasm to vote for the lesser evil. … The country is divided, there is no centre, the two blocs are drifting further and further apart. And the polarization won't end with the election. So it would be a mistake to start celebrating America's salvation if Clinton wins.”

Postimees (EE) /

Battle will continue even after election

The outcome of the US presidential election campaign is still up in the air, Postimees believes:

“The results of the vote on November 8 are still anybody's guess. And even the election might not settle the issue. People are saying that the president could be impeached if a two-thirds majority in the Senate - or even a simple majority in the House of Representatives - votes in favour of the move. It's no secret that the narcissist Trump is hated both by the Democrats and the leading Republicans. And it's still too early to predict how the scandals involving Clinton will pan out. If Trump remains Trump after the election, there's every reason to believe that more is yet to come.”