Why did Trump win the election?

US President Barack Obama will meet with Donald Trump at the White House today to discuss the plan for handing over power to his designated successor. Commentators are still perplexed by Donald Trump's victory against Hillary Clinton, who was considered the favourite. Many see the election result as a protest vote against the establishment.

Open/close all quotes
Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Revolt against political correctness

Trump's election is not only the victory of anti-globalist sentiment but also a revolt against politically correct discourse, sociologist Luca Ricolfi writes in Il Sole 2 Ore:

“Perhaps an even more important factor in Trump's success is the end of tolerance for excessive political correctness, which has already gone far beyond the limits of common sense and been taken to the absurd in America. To this extent Trump's election was also a liberation, or a 'big f*** you', as political comedian Beppe Grillo said. But a liberation from what? From the stigmatisation of the American lower class. Even if it's painful, it must be remembered that politically correct discourse and its offspring are excellent instruments for dividing society into top and bottom, into 'we the cultivated' and 'you the barbarians'.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

America needs change

Trump's victory was only a surprise for those who'd never listened to him before, Mladá fronta dnes comments:

“A large number of Americans felt that no one was taking an interest in them. The people didn't understand why toilets for transexuals in the schools were supposed to be the main problem while their children at these same schools have rely on food stamp programmes. Trump understood. That's how he won. Unlike the media. They took him at his word but didn't take him seriously. ... Now those who didn't notice before what was seething under the surface know how everything will end with Trump. But one thing is clear: America needs change. The opportunity to get it is now at hand.”

Reflektor (HU) /

Why Clinton's feminism didn't help her

Hillary Clinton's brand of liberal feminism failed to attract many female voters, Lea Gottmayer writes on the blog portal Reflektor:

“More white women voted for Trump than for Clinton. That pulls the rug out from under those who say that Clinton lost because of American sexism. ... What's more: almost twice as many women without a university degree voted for Trump than for Clinton. That shows that Clintonist feminism is not the feminism of white working-class women. ... These women turned a blind eye to Trump's gaffes. Far more important to them was what he said about Islam, wage disputes as a result of immigration, and improving the standard of living which had stagnated under Obama.”

Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Trump has won against media manipulation

In the end democracy outweighed the media's influence, Russia's Novaya Gazeta concludes with satisfaction:

“The elections in the US have shown that democracy works and that it must be respected. If voters in the US decide they want a president like Donald Trump, then no one can revoke that decision. … Trump's victory has shown that the media are not an effective instrument for manipulating the consciousness of the masses. 90 Percent of the US media spent the whole year portraying Trump as the devil incarnate and saying he would lead his country into disaster if he was elected. The voters, however, saw things differently. … So we can describe the outcome of the US election as a democratic vote by society against manipulators. Just as Trump himself is doing - and he's not far from the truth with that.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Clinton camp ignored lower middle class

Donald Trump won because he was the only one who focussed on the losers of globalisation, writes Berlingske:

“An elite that failed to take the developments seriously is to blame for Trump's victory in the US presidential election. A President Trump doesn't appear out of thin air. The US's lower middle class, the traditional core of the US economy, just as the worker families in the Rust Belt [the country's largest industrial region now afflicted by heavy decline] once were, has been marginalised. It has experienced stagnation, decline, unemployment and growing irrelevance while the jobs have moved to other countries. And all this accompanied by official speeches about the formidable advantages of globalisation and free trade.”

Karar (TR) /

Social change needed

Trump's election victory is the result of a global trend and only a new understanding of society can counter it, Karar points out:

“Many of us were surprised that Donald Trump, who campaigned with xenophobic, Islamophobic and sexist rhetoric, won the presidential election. But is his victory really so surprising when we know that his political style has become fashionable all over the world in recent years? … For the Western world to emerge from its current socio-political and ideological crisis, above all a major social change is required. … Radical social change can take place even in peaceful times. Economic forces or the demands and pressure of foreign policy can also make this possible. Perhaps Trump's policies will force this change.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

The Uberisation of democracy

The world has entered a new stage of democratic life with Donald Trump's election, L'Opinion believes, and traces how the change came about:

“Its origins lie in the perceived effects of global competition, the growing inequality, a drop in status, the disappearance of borders, the waves of immigration, the bluster of war around the world. They lie in what is perceived as the negative transformation of an economic model, and its social repercussions. But also in the instruments that the globalisation and digitisation of the economy have made popular. ... For now the voice behind each vote can be heard by all, and not just whispered anonymously into a ballot box. Trump's election is the first spectacular manifestation of the Uberisation of democracy. This trend is now irreversible. The time has come for those 'in the system' who don't want to be swept away by this wave to stop seeing this upheaval as no more than a manifestation of populism.”

The Independent (GB) /

The facts no longer count

The fact that Donald Trump has been able to get so far despite his many untrue assertions is proof that post-truth politics has the upper hand, columnist Matthew Norman complains in The Independent:

“The truth has become so devalued that what was once the gold standard of political debate is a worthless currency. ... How did we come to a mass state of altered consciousness, as foreseen by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four? ... Trump is not the originator of a frantic desire to flee reality. He is its manifestation. How this even begins to be reversed, how internet-reared and internet-addled generations can be taught to venerate provable fact over the lies which reinforce whichever truth they have chosen, I have no idea.”

România liberă (RO) /

The dam of xenophobia has broken

Trump's election win will strengthen xenophobic parties all over the world, writes România Liberă:

“It has become increasingly clear that the Western world has had enough of being friendly and open to those who need help and to the foreigners in their midst. The growing popularity of right-wing extremists in Europe is proof of this. The Brexit, which is mainly driven by the desire to get rid of migrants in the UK, is the official confirmation. And the election of Donald Trump is the current climax of this profound intolerance. The misogyny, racism, aggressiveness towards migrants and pro-Putinism propagated by the man who will be the president of the most powerful country on this planet are now things and values which all those who had honoured them in secret can now display openly. This is the core of the disaster that will ensue.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Paying for a misguided policy

With a rigid monetary policy in the 1980s and the Nafta free trade agreement, the US Federal Reserve and previous governments deliberately weakened the middle class in the US - paving the way for Trump's victory, the Irish Independent comments:

“The political cost of these developments has been the gradual erosion of the working man's wages and the marked amplification of inequality. ... Ultimately, the Fed won its 20-year war on inflation but at a cost of greater social inequality, which would come back to dominate this presidential campaign. The undermining of the American working- and lower middle-class was not the unintended consequence of policy; it was the aim of policy - and now America is paying for it. This is what has happened in the US and this is what is behind this election result.”

Jornal de Negócios (PT) /

Is Obama partly to blame?

Was it eight years of Obama that ultimately led to Trump's victory? Jornal de Negócios wonders:

“It is legitimate to ask whether eight years of Obama can help explain why this new cycle in US politics is beginning with such a divided America. Several US analyses have put forward the hypothesis that Obama himself created the substrate for Trump's rise. Did Obama trivialise the concerns of white, conservative America, of the white American without a college education - or even sacrifice them for those of the minorities? Is Obama to blame for this broken America? After all, he bears the responsibility for the last eight years of government. ... The world will not end with this 'Brexit-style' Trump victory. But it will probably become a worse place to live in.”

Právo (CZ) /

This America will not be great again

Donald Trump will have a hard time implementing his campaign slogan "Make America great again", Právo predicts:

“A divided country can hardly be great. And America will remain divided as long as one tenth of the population continues to accumulate wealth while the queues of those who depend on food stamps grow even longer because people can't make ends meet in the most moneyed country in the world. ... After these elections the world's only superpower will do even more navel-gazing. For the US, the rest of the planet will become a place where it half-heartedly maintains old alliances, or even flexes its muscles just to divert attention from domestic problems. Both prospects are not exactly encouraging.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Fight fear and anger

The same factors that are dominating Europe's current political discourse held sway in the US election campaign, Les Echos points out:

“Fear for one's own identity and anger over economic decline. ... The fears of the simple white man, who is condemned to becoming a minority by the middle of this century, reflect the fears of a 'huge population exchange' that populists have been exploiting in Europe. Just as Donald Trump was able to get people who had stopped voting to go to the polls again, Marine Le Pen is in the process of waking up a silent France. And let there be no mistake: in America, as in France and Germany, the newly elected leaders will need an exceptionally strong will and enormous legitimacy to overcome the germs of disintegration that are now firmly anchored in our societies, represented by multiculturalism and communitarianism.”

De Tijd (BE) /

US facing four lost years

De Tijd wants to see the renewal of US democracy:

“American politics is reaping what was sown years ago. The rift between the Republicans and Democrats has grown in recent years. … A new political culture is needed to reconcile the US with its politicians and itself. … It's hard to see Donald Trump as the conciliatory figure who can lift American politics out of its misery. There's a high probability that the US is in for four lost years. … The country has reached the end of a political cycle and the politicians must have the courage to change the political structure. The two-party system is completely outdated: the Republican Party is increasingly a melting pot for all kinds of far-right tendencies that are far removed from traditional conservatism. And the Democratic Party is dominated by a few great dynasties that won't allow renewal.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Trade wars and security threats

A global trade war and less security for Europe are the likely consequences of Trump's victory, Gazeta Wyborcza believes:

“The Republican candidate has contradicted himself and changed sides so often that one really doesn't know what to expect from his term in office. ... But if you look at the statements he's trumpeted the loudest, his mandate will above all mean the following: the foundations of free international trade will be weakened in favour of economic protectionism. Trump has signalled his willingness to renegotiate the terms. That concerns not only the free trade zone with Canada and Mexico (Nafta). He has proposed high tariffs on goods from Mexico (35 percent) and - more importantly - from China (45 percent). This could lead to global trade wars. In addition, the US's security guarantee for Europe will be watered down. In line with his maxim 'America First', Trump plans to focus above all on his own country's interests.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Icy times

The new US government faces major challenges in foreign policy, Die Welt maintains, seeing icy times ahead:

“Those who warn of a new cold war are overlooking the fact that it began long ago, but following a different script than in the 1940s and 50s. The world won't give the new government in the White House a 100-day pause. Russia is demonstrating in eastern Ukraine and Syria how the phase of crippling agitation surrounding the election and the change of government in the US can be used to present the world with this or that fait accompli. Nato partner Turkey is sending contradictory signals in all directions. The Europeans are holding their breath and should have realised much sooner that the times of America's Europe-first-strategy are over, that Russia is continually testing the West, today in Eastern Europe, tomorrow on the Black Sea, and that, in a nutshell, the North Atlantic Alliance lacks a sustainable containment strategy.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

US president not an autocrat

The US president may be the most important politician in the world but he is not all-powerful, the Salzburger Nachrichten stresses:

“He's the leader of the executive branch - the 'head of government' in the European sense. So when the Americans speak of 'the government', they mean all those who do politics 'in Washington', meaning the president plus Congress. Seen from that perspective, the American 'government' is comprised not only of the president (and his administration), but also of the other 535 people who govern the country, namely the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. ... Consequently the supposedly most powerful politician in the world must share power with one of the most powerful parliaments in the world. The political powers hold each other in check (checks and balances). The president won't be able to bypass Congress or the judiciary.”