Election day in the USA

Roughly 200 million registered voters will cast their ballots today to elect the 45th US president. Analysts see Democratic candidate Clinton in the lead, however Republican rival Trump is almost neck and neck with her in key states. How will the result affect Europe? And what impact has the campaigning had on the state of democracy?

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Kurier (AT) /

People have lost their trust in the system

The election campaign may have done lasting damage to democracy in the US, Kurier believes:

“Taking advantage of the people's anger, fear and frustration to keep them in a bad mood and to badger them into voting was a dangerous and cynical game. Because once election day is over that is exactly how they will view the policies they're presented with. They'll reject them as frustrating, inadequate and not corresponding to their wishes. Without basic trust in the system, no citizen will accept that democracy not only fulfils their wishes but also makes demands of them. That will pose a threat to any democracy. And the world's biggest and most important democracy is dangerously close to this state of affairs.”

Avvenire (IT) /

US democracy hard hit

Democracy itself is the main victim of this campaign, political scientist Vittorio E. Parsi concurs in Avvenire:

“What we are left with is a pitiful image of the oldest modern democracy: an increasingly lengthy and expensive selection process, which ultimately produced a frankly disappointing alternative. ... American democracy, and with it democracy as such, emerges from this process in tatters. Today all Western democracies are confronted with a growing breach between the establishment and those who protest against its increasingly open tendency to barricade itself behind its unbearable privileges. ... What was traditionally considered the main advantage of democracy compared with all other forms of government has suffered: the ability to neutralise the potential dangers of a change of government.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Even with Trump things wouldn't be so bad

La Vanguardia examines the consequences of a victory for Trump:

“The US presidential election is the only one with global impact. … There are two obvious reasons for this: the country's ability to export the American way of life to every corner of the planet and its economic, commercial and military clout, which is so great that what voters in states like Florida, Iowa or Minnesota decide can affect the rest of the world's population. … Compared with the traditional and responsible diplomacy exhibited by the former secretary of state [Clinton], Trump has displayed a worrying isolationism. Armed with his "America first" slogan, the Republican candidate has made careless comments on all the global issues and prescribed simplistic and even alarming solutions. But thanks to the balance of powers inherent in the US political system even his victory would not result in automatic isolation. The Senate will force him to moderate his solutions.”

Spiegel Online (DE) /

Clinton will put pressure on Berlin

Germany will breathe a sigh of relief if Clinton wins, but even if she does the German government still won't be able to sit back and relax, Spiegel Online is convinced:

“As president, Clinton would smile politely and put the screws on Angela Merkel and the government: Do we want to up the sanctions against Russia? A military buildup on Nato's eastern border? The grand coalition in Berlin is already divided on these issues, as is the entire EU. ... The prevailing feeling in the US is that the Europeans should show more commitment in security matters: America can't always solve all the problems on their doorstep for them. A Clinton administration would have to follow this lead. For Germany that means the prospect of increased military spending and the joint European army continuing to take shape. Furthermore, discussions about German military involvement in conflicts like the one in Syria could intensify.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Dangerous times for Eastern Europe

The post-election period could be dangerous for Eastern Europe, political scientist Viljar Veebel writes in Eesti Päevaleht:

“In the period during which Obama hands over power to the new president, a window of indecisiveness will appear which major powers could exploit to improve their regional positions. China and Russia will hardly have a more auspicious opportunity for military action in the coming years than in the months leading up to January's inauguration. Luckily Estonia and the Baltic states are not the most important trouble spot on the planet. But the focus of attention on potential new conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Taiwan, the South China Sea or the Korean Peninsula could lead to a security vacuum in the Baltic.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Next president faces mission impossible

Whoever wins the election, the rifts in US society will be impossible to overcome, Die Presse comments:

“It is undeniable that in the US an enormous gap has opened up between the winners and losers of globalisation. In their hatred of the elite and its symbolic figurehead Hillary Clinton, the 'deplorables', to use Clinton's choice of phrase, are clinging to even the tiniest hope - even if he's the dumbest self promoter promising everything under the sun but just inflating his own ego. Eight years ago Barack Obama ran for president to overcome the differences between black and white, between Republican red and Democratic blue. This failed miserably and that is certainly not just Obama's fault. The polarization is greater than ever, the red heartland and the blue coastal areas are drifting further and further apart. It would be a mission impossible for any president to overcome these divides - but all the more so for these two candidates.”

De Standaard (BE) /

The US and Europe need a New Deal

The US election campaign has revealed the deep rifts in society, De Standaard comments, pointing out parallels with Europe:

“In Europe too, populist and far-right movements are on the rise. ... How to fight the idea of exclusion and hatred without further alienating the supporters of these movements? ... We haven't found the solution in Europe either, and time is running out here as well. Without a fairer society the task is bound to fail. A more honest society in which people want to get involved and have access to a good job. Where they see opportunities for themselves and their children, and where they have a prospect of affordable healthcare and a good pension. ... What that means is a New Deal, with less inequality and more solidarity. And a political system that is closer to the people: that includes them, and that wins them over to its long-term vision. Because more than anything else it's uncertainty that feeds fear and anger and that breeds phenomena like Trump.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Putin will benefit regardless of who wins

Nothing will be the same after these elections, Večernji list warns:

“Either the US will retreat into a phase of enhanced isolationism regarding Europe and the Middle East, or it will become significantly more aggressive on the world stage - also as far as arming the rebels in Syria goes. Europe has no particular influence on the election outcome, but the result will have a clear impact here. If US influence in Europe starts to wane, the EU's eastern borders will become more permeable. If the other side wins, the war in Syria will flare up and we'll be hit by a new wave of refugees. Only one person will benefit regardless of who wins the US elections tomorrow: Vladimir Putin. If Trump is victorious, Russia can rub its hands at the US's lack of interest in international affairs. If Clinton comes out on top, Putin will have a weak president as his adversary, one who is struggling with numerous scandals and all the skeletons in her cupboard.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

No reason to panic

The whole world is watching Washington with bated breath - but are we really standing at the edge of the abyss? economic analyst and blogger Luigi Zingales asks in Il Sole 24 Ore:

“I don't think so. In all probability the House of Representatives will end up with a Republican majority and the Senate with a Democratic majority. So whoever wins will have to make compromises to be able to govern. … It is this separation of powers that guarantees that the damage a president can do to the United States is limited. Whoever gets elected will pursue a more expansive tax policy and a more isolationist foreign policy. They will sign new free trade agreements with growing reluctance. … Apart from the justices of the Supreme Court, the outcome of the race for the presidency won't be all that decisive, either for the future of the United States or for the world.”