The world, like the United States, is in limbo. But one thing is clear: 2016 was not an aberration.
Americans may have rendered their final verdict in the 2020 election, but the maddeningly uncertain outcome as votes continue to be counted, combined with President Donald Trump’s premature victory dance, has left much of the world awaiting the results with anticipation bordering on anxiety, wondering whether they will face a future marked by increasing U.S. authoritarianism and isolationism, or a pathway back to restoring one of the world’s most admired democracies.
“Dear American friends … the reputation of democracy is at stake and the world is watching,” the United Kingdom’s former Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt warned on Twitter as the election stalled in a deadlock. “Please proceed carefully.”
As of Wednesday morning, neither candidate had secured the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory, though Joe Biden’s gains in key battleground states gave his campaign hope of ultimately prevailing. But the final result likely won’t be known until later in the week—and legal challenges from Republicans loom.
The electoral deadlock put many of Western allies on edge, fearful that four more years of Trump’s “America first” foreign policy will further erode critical security alliances and leave them increasingly exposed to threats from rising powers, principally China. But it also offered encouragement to a new generation of nationalist leaders from Brazil to Hungary, who see Trump’s norm-breaking presidency as an affirmation of their own policies.