In Depth

US election: who are the winners and losers in a post-Trump world?

Britain looks set to remain high on list of Washington’s allies - but some will be cursing Biden’s election victory

Many pundits expected Boris Johnson to be left on hold when Joe Biden made his first post-election calls to other world leaders yesterday. But the prime minister scored an unexpected win by edging out peers including Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to secure second spot on the US president-elect’s phone list, after Canada’s Justin Trudeau. 

According to a No. 10 spokesperson, Johnson told Biden that he looked forward to “strengthening the partnership” between the UK and US, while the victorious Democrat expressed a similar desire to bolster the historic “special relationship” and “redouble cooperation”.

Yet while Britain’s status as a key Washington ally appears safe, Donald Trump’s impending exit from the White House is likely to result in serious losses for some other world powers.  

The losers

India - Narendra Modi

Modi invested heavily in his relationship with Trump and “forged a kinship in the cult of personality,” says The Times. The Indian PM appeared at a Trump rally last year, “abandoning diplomatic protocol by appearing to endorse the president for a second term”.

Now, following Biden’s victory, “some fear Modi’s backing of Trump might come back to bite the Indian establishment”, reports the South China Morning Post - especially in matters relating to the treatment of India’s religious minorities.

European populists

Europe’s populist leaders had a vocal, if unreliable, ally in Trump. In the wake of his election defeat, President Andrzej Duda of Poland - who prided himself on being the Republican’s closest EU friend - has made “cautious overtures to the Biden camp”, while Hungary’s Viktor Orban “has also been circumspect”, The Times reports.

But a right-wing populist being ejected from the Oval Office was never going to play well for Europe’s smaller populist powers. It may not be all bad news for them, though.

As the New Statesman’s Ido Vock notes, “for the populists yet to grip the levers of power, such as [Geert] Wilders [in the Netherlands], Trump was more a curse than a blessing”.

“They didn’t so much disagree with him on the substance of his ideology,” Vock continues. “But his chaotic style, trampling over decorum and norms, turned off cautious European electorates from the politicians who hitched their wagons to the Trump train.”

Brazil - Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s right-wing firebrand president has been a huge admirer of Trump, even appearing to whisper “I love you” into his US counterpart’s ear during a meeting at the United Nations in 2019.

That affection appears to have faded following last week’s election, however. Bolsonaro - nicknamed the “Trump of the Tropics” - told supporters on Friday that the soon-to-be ousted US leader is “not the most important person in the world”, The Washington Post reports.

Turkey - Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

“President Trump’s departure from the White House leaves a large hole in President Erdogan’s US policy,” The Times says. 

The Republican has held back on sanctions against Turkey, despite pressure from US lawmakers following Syria and Turkey’s decision to purchase Russia’s advanced anti-aircraft missile systems. Erdogan has now congratulated Biden on securing the White House, but also thanked Trump for his “sincere and determined vision” and for expanding US-Turkey ties.

Israel - Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu was a close ally to the Trump administration and was rewarded lavishly for his friendship.

Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, backed Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and launched peace negotiations with Palestine that greatly favoured Israel.

Biden is also staunchly pro-Israel, but that support does not necessarily extend to Netanyahu, who waited 12 hours before “breaking his silence” to congratulate the Democrat following his election victory, The Times of Israel reports. 

Russia - Vladimir Putin

Putin has not yet reached out to congratulate Biden, but throughout his leadership has made a virtue of being able to work with - or around - any US administration.

The Russian president has said he will only congratulate Biden when Trump’s various legal challenges are concluded, but his “silence speaks volumes”, The Guardian says. Trump was unusually warm towards the Russian president, making him another of the “likely losers” of the US election result, the paper adds.

The winners

European Union

For the EU27, Trump’s defeat is a blessing that should usher in a return to diplomatic norms, while “shor[ing] up Nato and other creaking multilateral institutions”, says The Times.

The president-elect is expected to breathe new life into the Iran Nuclear Deal, as well as “restoring America’s traditional global leadership via international co-operation”.

China - Xi Jinping

The trade war with China has been a stand-out policy of the Trump administration from the day he entered the White House - so Xi Jinping is unlikely to be mourning his exit. 

Yet many Chinese officials have remained on the fence over who they would rather have in the Oval Office, believing that “no matter who won, the US would remain irreconcilably opposed to the country’s rise”, according to The New York Times.

While the inflammatory rhetoric deployed by Trump is unlikely to be deployed by Biden, “few expect him to quickly reverse the confrontational policies his predecessor has put in place”, the paper adds.

Canada - Justin Trudeau

Few people like having noisy or erratic neighbours, so Canada should be happy to see Trump depart from power. 

“Canadians, whether left or right, are glad to see Trump go,” agrees Foreign Policy. The country’s politicians have spent the past four years presenting themselves “as guardians of tolerant Canadian values”, in opposition to “Trump-inspired xenophobia, racism, or even white supremacism”.

Biden, by contrast, is well liked in Canada - and the feeling appears to be mutual. Prime Minister Trudeau was top of Biden’s list for post-election calls, during which the pair discussed “jointly confronting climate change and Covid-19”, The Hill reports.


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