Here are the latest developments:
- Asian stock markets cautious as traders hedge bets on election outcome.
- Some commentators in China hope that a Joe Biden win could usher in a diplomatic respite, but fear that the deepened U.S.-China rivalry could persist, whoever wins.
- Pro-Kremlin media warn elections could lead to chaos and street fighting.
- Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, criticized Biden for his calls to protect the Amazon from overdevelopment.
Over the past four years, Trump has upended the principles that have guided U.S. foreign policy for decades.
Trump knows the world is watching. “China wants me out, Iran wants me out, Germany wants me out, they all want me out,” he said at a campaign rally Saturday. “But here we are, right?”
But Biden also noted that the United States — and the world — needs patience as the votes are tallied, including many mail-in ballots. He said in Wilmington, Del., that he will wait until “there’s something to talk about” — which could be a day or more after polls close.
Europe holds its breath, Russia warns of chaos
Russian hopes for a Trump victory were reflected by pro-Kremlin media, which emphasized the idea that U.S. democracy is fraying, facing likely post-election violence or even wider internal conflicts.
In Europe, where Trump is deeply unpopular in most countries, some looked to the potential for a transatlantic reset. Others viewed U.S. political fissures with worry.
“Hatred has found its way into the [U.S.] political system. There is no longer a center, only polarization,” tweeted the chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Röttgen.
In private, European leaders said they were bracing for uncertainty. One senior European official sent a “fingers crossed” emoji when asked about the election. The official sent the message on the condition of anonymity for fear of bringing down Trump’s wrath.
Many media outlets abroad are covering the election much as they would national elections in their own countries. The German newspaper Bild built an Oval Office replica from which to broadcast online coverage.
Canada to Brazil: Trade, aid and the Amazon
In Canada, where two out of three people live within roughly 60 miles of the U.S. border, citizens and lawmakers have been keeping an anxious eye on what the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. called the country’s “second-favorite spectator sport.”
On the southern border, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined to comment on the election, saying that would constitute interference in the neighboring country’s affairs. Carlos Puig, a columnist for Mexico’s national Milenio daily, looked ahead to a possible Biden administration and wondered about the “reaction of the Trumpian base.”
Brazilian analysts offered intricate tutorials on U.S. politics, mapping out the potential economic and political implications. “Today is the most important day in decades for the future of global democracy,” Brazilian journalist Guilherme Amado tweeted Tuesday morning.
Allies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has made strengthened ties with Trump the cornerstone of his foreign policy, warned that a victory for Biden would jeopardize Brazil’s dominion over the Amazon rainforest. Biden has threatened economic costs if Brazil does not slow surging deforestation.
Latin American currency and stock markets rallied slightly Tuesday as investors betted on a Biden victory, Reuters reported. Analysts are predicting that Biden pledges to pass a stimulus package and free-trade policies would benefit regional economies.
China looks for change
In China, the election dominated social media, with many analysts predicting that a Biden win could usher in a diplomatic respite. But some were also gloomy about the long-term prospects for China-U. S. relations.
“We hope after Biden comes back, we can at least resume high-level dialogue,” said Ding Yifan, a former adviser to China’s cabinet. “Biden wants to compete with China but also collaborate, and that’s how we frame the relationship, too. To see the democratic system in the world’s most powerful country go off the rails is not a good thing.”
Asian shares opened higher Wednesday, following gains in Wall Street overnight, as global investors made initial bets on a Democrat victory and further economic stimulus spending. But the early gains fell back as investors grew more cautious and hedged over uncertainty on who would claim the White House.
The U.S. relationship with the Middle East is also hanging in the balance. Trump pulled the United States out of a nuclear agreement that the Obama administration and other world powers negotiated with Iran, and brought harsh U.S. sanctions to exert “maximum pressure” on the Iranian government.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the results of the election would make no difference for Tehran’s foreign policy, and he mocked Trump for predicting fraudulent results. “This shows the ugly face of liberal democracy within American society,” he said.
Hoping for more Trump
In Israel, observers said a Biden win could accelerate the end of the current compromise government in Jerusalem and lead to elections in a matter of months.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has made his relationship with President Trump a key selling point to the Israeli electorate,” said Jason Pearlman, a communications strategist.
Israeli settlers in the West Bank gathered to pray for Trump’s reelection. Settler leaders have expressed concern that a Trump loss could mean a backpedaling of the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and renewed U.S. criticism of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
“Go, win, @realDonaldTrump,” tweeted Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa from the home country of first lady Melania Trump.
Worried for America
Many international observers expressed fears for U.S. democracy and whether it could withstand the strain of the country’s deep rifts. Trump has refused to commit to handing over power if he loses, and some U.S. allies spoke about the vote in terms often reserved for fragile democracies.
“I hope for an outcome like what we have learned from the Americans: that the rules of democracy are accepted by everyone,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Tagesspiegel newspaper on Sunday. “That means there are not only jubilant winners, but also good losers.”
John Hewson, former leader of the conservative Liberal Party in Australia, said the election exposed a “fiction” of the perception of the United States as the world’s leading democracy, while Nigerian journalist Mary-Ann Duke Okon tweeted that the U.S. media “is sounding like they’re reporting on Africa’s elections.”
In New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has overseen a widely praised response to the coronavirus pandemic, “there is clearly a lot of conversation happening about how the two countries couldn’t be more different right now,” said Jennifer Curtin, director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland.
Ardern, 40, won re-election last month and named a remarkably diverse cabinet this week, adding to the stark contrast between the two countries, Curtin said.
Curtin planned to order New York-style pizza, consult her electoral map and host a small gathering in her Auckland home to watch the results roll in. But most Kiwi observers are wary to predict the results, she said, recalling Trump’s poll-defying win in 2016.
This time, she said, “everybody’s just holding their breath.”
Slater reported from New Delhi, Shih from Taipei, Noack from Berlin and Taylor from Washington. Robyn Dixon in Moscow; Danielle Paquette in Dakar, Senegal; Paul Schemm in Dubai; Theodora Yu and Shibani Mahtani in Hong Kong; Steve Hendrix and Shira Rubin in Jerusalem; Jennifer Hassan in London; Michael Birnbaum in Riga, Latvia; Amanda Coletta in Toronto; Loveday Morris in Berlin; Terrence McCoy in Rio de Janeiro; Simon Denyer in Tokyo and Niha Masih in New Delhi contributed to this report.
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