World Reaction to the 2016 Presidential Election


With the U.S. 2016 presidential election coming to a close, it is interesting to take a look at what other countries are making of what is probably the most controversial election in American history. While millions of Americans were watching this election play out, the rest of the globe watched with great interest, too. Main responses to a Trump presidency ranged from a humorous approach—such as offering refuge for Americans fleeing a Trump presidency—to a more critical look at how such a democracy even allowed his rise. Hillary Clinton was regarded as the classic establishment candidate, but not a lot of empathy was garnered for her emails, Benghazi, and public distrust toward her. Opinions range from foreign correspondents, world leaders, and a random selection of people in the streets of major cities in the world.

Lebanese journalist Joyce Karam has followed American presidential elections since 2004 and serves as the Washington Bureau Chief for the Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat. On the note of Trump she says, “When he first announced [his candidacy], we put the story on page eight, we buried it. It was like, 300 words. One of my editors said this is a TV star, [he’s] clownish, this is not serious.”

Chidanand Rajghatta of the Times of India was asked how she explains Donald Trump to her audience and replied that the election was the outcome of a widespread sense of frustration in America. She then named Trump supporters as “American Brexit voters,” describing them as a “constituency which feels marginalized, which has seen this country become more multicultural, multiracial, [and which has lost] economic opportunities to an immigrant force which is hungrier than they are, willing to work harder and work at probably lower wages than they are.”

Matthias Kolb, a journalist covering his second U.S. presidential election for the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, was asked to explain how Germans view the prospect of a Clinton presidency. He says the German people are completely fascinated with Clinton. They regard her as a hard-working politician and the fact that she is a woman resonated with many since Germany has been led by a female chancellor for 10 years. However, the most interesting story on the Democratic side for Germans, Kolb continued, was, “How can an old, grumpy grandfather be so successful and attractive especially to young voters?”

Seven reporters from The Washington Post went out into the streets of London, Tokyo, Jerusalem, Beijing, Mexico City, and Cairo to randomly survey people on what they think of the U.S. presidential election, the Democratic and Republican frontrunners, and what they hoped would change between the United States and their countries after the elections.

In London, a petition was proposed to bar Trump from entering Britain and there is still much unrest over his gold resort in Scotland. Karla Adam of The Washington Post concluded that Trump’s comment on having many supporters in the United Kingdom was questionable after interviewing people on London’s South Bank.

Yuki Oda of The Washington Post visited Tokyo’s Shiba Park to find people to share their views on the candidates. One man compared Hillary Clinton to an empress, but another man was cautious of Trump’s rhetoric saying that it was time for Japan to free itself from what he called U.S. “dependency.”

In Jerusalem, Ruth Eglash of The Washington Post interviewed Israelis at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market and found out that they were more concerned about the United States’ ties with Israel than any of the candidates. They wanted whoever won to support Israel.

The people that Xu Yangjingjing of The Washington Post interviewed were the most reticent group. They did not mention Trump’s rhetoric and were just as concise when it came to Clinton.

In Mexico City, considering Trump’s comment describing Mexicans who illegally cross the border into the U.S. as “rapists” and criminals, the Post’s Joshua Partlow was not surprised by the Mexican reaction to the American presidential race.

The Post’s Heba Habib found that people in Cairo believed that the next U.S. president, whoever it would it be, would have little to no effect on U.S. policy toward the Middle East and Egypt.

World leaders are more in favor of a Clinton Presidency, but they still are wary of her contribution to the Benghazi attacks and her use of private emails while Secretary of State. Even so, Clinton has a significant advantage over Trump. She understands how the world works as a former senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State. Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, supports Clinton and told the newspaper La Republica, “She is the most prepared of them all. If Trump asked me for advice, I would tell him to get a haircut first.”

With a Trump presidency, world leaders are troubled by the potential repercussions of a spike in American nationalism. They are also concerned with Trump’s promise to “ban all Muslims
and create a wall to keep Mexican immigrants from entering the United States.” Sandro Gozi, a member of the Italian parliament, says, “Trump solutions for me are false solutions, but they’re not original. They’re things that we have heard in Europe from extremist sections.”