The lesson from Alabama's Senate election?
A Democrat has emerged victorious from the Senate special election in the traditionally Republican state of Alabama: Doug Jones beat the Republican Roy Moore by a narrow margin on Tuesday. Former presidential advisor Stephen Bannon had strongly backed Moore, who among other things opposed more rights for homosexuals. Europe's media discuss what to make of Moore's defeat.
Trump no longer unbeatable
Moores' defeat will have unpleasant consequences for Trump, Corriere della Sera predicts:
“First of all he'll face problems in the Senate, because as of January he'll only be able to count on 51 of 100 [Republican] senators. ... And at least three of those (Corker, Flake and McCain) despise him. Secondly, while Trump loves Bannon's extremism, he loves winning even more. So in future he'll no doubt pay little heed to Bannon when he realises that with radical candidates he loses constituencies that were as good as won. Thirdly, so the Democrats hope, the results in Alabama will encourage their voters. After The Donald's victory these voters were demoralised and lacked orientation. While power relations will no doubt not shift entirely by the midterm elections, Trump can no longer be considered unbeatable.”
Goodbye, right-wing populism!
The right-wing populist movement in the US has ground to a halt, De Volkskrant surmises:
“President Trump backed Moore all the way. ... And Trump's prompter Bannon went a step further on Monday by by explaining the 'Trump miracle' to Moore's deeply-religious followers. But in Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the US, the elixir of the magic duo that led to a seemingly impossible presidency in 2016 was no longer powerful enough. The Republican establishment now feels strengthened. ... Even if the party followed Trump's lead last year it has now been proved right: if Bannon's populist revolution helps the Democrats to win in Alabama, it's not the right strategy for the elections in 2018.”
The ideological battles are only intensifying
This is no time for euphoria, Zeit Online writes:
“The voters of Alabama barely avoided electing the man who is no doubt the worst - and the most impossible - candidate. Jones beat Moore by a mere 20,000 votes. ... All that is no cause to celebrate. Once again it highlights the immense rifts in American society. ... Whites against minorities, rich against poor, gun lovers against gun haters, anti-abortionists against pro-lifers; the list goes on and on. ... Roy Moore's defeat will only conceal these rifts for a moment. One election cannot result in any substantial changes. The fight waged by both sides for ideological dominance of the country will now intensify. America is still a long way from salvation.”
All sides can learn from this
Democrats and Republicans alike should draw conclusions for their national policies from the vote, Dnevnik counsels:
“The Democrats hope for a political change of trend but they're acting like a defeated army, intent only on contradicting Trump. If there were a major change, it would be because of their adversaries' mistakes - first and foremost Trump's - and not because of their own clout. Nevertheless, with his economy-oriented campaign Jones showed how things can be done. Even among the Republicans some are happy that the radical Moore was defeated. The Republican majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnel, is particularly glad, because Moore would have done the party more harm than good in the long term. Nevertheless, the lesson is a painful one for the Republicans in every respect.”