Donald Trump’s election as President has prompted a variety of reactions as mass protests across the US to shock from the President-elect himself. Naturally, a political event of this magnitude is going to both delight and depress, depending on your own view of the world. The world’s leaders are no exception to this and many have sent congratulatory messages to Mr Trump, albeit some more sincere than others.
Angela Merkel’s response is perhaps the most reserved – and with good reason. As leader of a country that exports more to the US than it imports, she knows she can afford to be less welcoming than certain other European leaders (looking at you, Theresa May). Whilst offering Germany’s close cooperation with the US, she stressed that this was “on the basis of the values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man”, things that Donald Trump often fails to understand. The UK Prime Minister, on the other hand, was rather more conciliatory towards Trump, offering no such reassurances to those who fear that a Trump presidency could lead to the introduction of a far-right political and economic agenda.
Whilst not technically a world leader, Nigel Farage’s response was as expected: smarmy and malicious. His comment that this was a “democratic revolution” is, quite simply, unintelligent and wrong. Democracy implies power through the people, and whilst Trump will indeed become President, it will not be through the will of the people, but through the votes of the Electoral College. The self-congratulatory nature of his responses both to Brexit and Trump’s election make you question what he has actually done for his country, other than becoming a quasi-celebrity by presenting himself as a Daily Mail article incarnate. The icing on the cake was the picture of Farage and Trump smiling whilst standing in front of a gold-plated elevator. Anti-establishment indeed.
Back in London, Boris Johnson showed, yet again, how adept he is at the art of the political U-turn. He, who was formally “genuinely worried” about a Trump White House, is now “looking forward” to working with the President-elect. He also believes that European leaders should end the “collective whinge-o-rama” over the election of a man he once called “frankly unfit to hold the office of President of the United States”. Talk about double standards.
From Moscow, Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to Trump detailing how “Russia wants to, and is ready to, restore full-length relations with the United States”. Whilst Putin’s telegram struck a diplomatic, composed tone, it did little to conceal the celebratory feel in the Kremlin after the election of one of its chief admirers. This election is as much a victory for Putin as it is for Trump himself. Many experts are predicting that Putin will seek to test Trump’s isolationist rhetoric early next year, perhaps by sending ships to the Baltic and the shores of Nato’s eastern flank.
Closer to home, Nicola Sturgeon’s reaction showcased yet another example of her unique combination of diplomacy, passion and political courage. Whilst congratulating Trump on his victory, she noted the need for him to “reach out to those who felt marginalised by his campaign” and for those “who share progressive values … to speak up loudly and clearly for the values we hold dear”. Just like Chancellor Merkel, she is not one to let her sentiments go unheard. If only more world leaders could follow the example set by these two women, perhaps we would find ourselves in a better situation than we do today.
Image: The Russian Presidential Press and Information Office