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It’s going to be Trump’s world, and not everybody likes it

A bagpipe player wears traditional dress as Donald Trump visits the Trump Turnberry Resort on June 24 in Ayr, Scotland. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
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LONDON — If Tuesday's election had played out anywhere outside the United States, Donald Trump would most likely have lost. His approval ratings were bad or catastrophic in most parts of the globe.

Being president, however, is deemed the world's most influential political job. Hence, governments have reacted far more cautiously to a Trump presidency than some of their citizens.

Here is a roundup of what a selection of countries' governments think of the president-elect, or what they hope he will achieve.


Russia is likely to be among the most enthusiastic countries. Members of parliament applauded when they heard the news of Trump's victory on Wednesday morning. The result appeared to come as a surprise to Russian journalists and politicians. For weeks, they had covered allegations of election rigging.

Some of Trump's statements were not in favor of Russia, such as his stance on Ukraine. But for the most part, Trump is viewed favorably by the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s establishment basks in Trump’s victory

Trump has called Putin a “strong leader,” causing furious reactions among the United States' European allies who feel threatened by Russia's recent military movements. In addition, Trump has raised doubts about the U.S. role in NATO, saying American military support would only go to nations paying their fair share.

The Israeli government did not pick sides in this election. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likely deemed it too risky to support any of the two candidates during such a volatile election campaign. Following the result's announcement, however, Netanyahu was quick to congratulate Trump.

For many Israelis, America's choice has been embraced far less enthusiastically. “While many Jewish Israelis felt comfortable with Trump's populist rhetoric, especially his tough talk against 'Islamic terrorism,' they were simultaneously appalled by the anti-Semitism of some of his supporters,” my colleague William Booth summarized.

Top Trump adviser says Israeli settlements are not an obstacle to peace

Right-wing politicians now hope that Trump will deliver on some of his main promises, which include a reconsideration of the nuclear treaty with Iran and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The latter decision could spark international outrage, as the United Nations does not recognize Israel's declaration of Jerusalem as its capital.

Such a move would be seen as a refutation to Palestinian claims to the city and a change in U.S. foreign policy, which has advocated a two-state solution. Current Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett went one step further Wednesday, announcing: “The era of the Palestinian state is over.”

Hungary is currently being regarded as the European Union's “problem child.” To the dismay of some E.U. politicians, Prime Minister Viktor Orban built a wall last year to stop the influx of migrants escaping wars in the Middle East and North Africa. A left-wing opposition newspaper was recently shut down, as well.

Speaking on Wednesday, Orban positioned himself as one of Europe's biggest Trump supporters, declaring that Hillary Clinton's defeat was “great news.” Orban has faced several political setbacks in recent weeks — Trump could possibly turn the tide in his favor.

Slovenia might become a European safe zone for Trump, mostly because his wife, Melania, was born there. In April, the mayor of her home town Sevnica said he would turn the local castle into a U.S. Embassy, and erect a sculpture of Melania Trump. It was an April Fools' Day joke back then. Now, it suddenly doesn't sound like a joke that much, anymore.

Melania Trump has put Slovenia into the international spotlight, welcomed by many in the country. But some fear it could easily turn against them, too. Dusan Trusnovec, 58, a social activist, said in July: “I've read that one writer from the U.S. said that it must have been pretty bad in Slovenia if she found it better being with Trump. Statements like that may make people from the U.S. think Slovenia is a very bad country.”

Other countries have been more straightforward. South Sudan officially embraced Trump early on. Michael Makuei, the country's information minister, said that Trump would certainly be better than President Obama. “I really doubt President Obama had any clear policy to South Sudan other than to destroy it,” Makuei was quoted as saying.


French President François Hollande was a particularly vocal supporter of Clinton. Unfortunately, as with most things, the French president with a current approval rating of 4 percent was unlucky.

Things may get even worse next year. Following Brexit and the U.S. elections, the French elite now also fear a revolt at the voting booths in their own country during the general elections. Right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen could easily make it to the second round of the process, facing either a Socialist or a conservative contender. Some in the country already feel reminded of a familiar situation: a populist right-wing candidate facing a moderate establishment candidate.

Many far-right parties in Europe are celebrating the presidential victory of Donald J. Trump. (Video: Jason Aldag, Ishaan Tharoor/The Washington Post)

The election is being celebrated by Europe’s far-right

Le Pen, meanwhile, was among the first to congratulate Trump on Wednesday. They would get along perfectly as presidents, she already appears to suggest.

Of all countries, it is Britain that could prevent a European split between Trump allies and Trump opponents.

The E.U. referendum in June clearly showed that a majority of Britons oppose the establishment and globalization, and how much people there feel left behind, amid immigration woes and economic uncertainty. Trump capitalized on similar sentiments in the United States.

Trump promised Brexit ‘times five.’ He delivered.

But following the Brexit referendum itself, Britain faced an immediate backlash. Leading Brexit supporters backtracked on the main promises, and the economy has only started to suffer, economists predict.

Those developments have mainly hurt populist politicians arguing their countries should also leave the E.U., such as Le Pen in France. Although in the past, the French have been more Eurosceptic than the British, a majority favored staying in the E.U. in a poll conducted as the first reactions to “Brexit” started to emerge.

At the same time, Brexit might make Britain also more dependent on the United States. Prime Minister Theresa May congratulated Trump, reminding him of the two countries' “special relationship.” As Britain has a declining number of friends in Europe, Britain needs U.S. trade and as a political ally. But will the British prime minister get her way?

Britain's Telegraph newspaper already appeared upset on Thursday, pointing out that Trump had spoken to nine other world leaders before May.

Iraq has reasons to be both hopeful and doubtful. Trump has often contradicted his own foreign policy stances concerning the Middle East.

While he has clearly called for the defeat of the Islamic State, he is also expected to be more of an isolationist than recent presidents. In 2015, however, Trump argued that U.S. ground troops would be one option to defeat the Islamic State and to “take back the oil.” Such statements will hardly calm fears in Baghdad.

Syria's Assad regime might benefit from the Trump presidency. Trump's broader Middle East plans remain vague, but he has suggested withdrawing U.S. support for rebel groups. This, as well as Trump's friendlier relations to Putin, the regime's key ally, could prove advantageous to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi Arabia is one of the United States' most important (and most criticized) allies in the Middle East. Will it change? Trump has suggested that the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, should pay more for U.S. support.

According to Saudi Arabian news agency SPA, King Salman made “peace and stability” the main focus of a phone call with Trump on Wednesday.

Canada has frequently — and jokingly — been considered the new country of residence for Americans disappointed with the outcome of the election. After the Trump victory became apparent, Canada's immigration website crashed because of the unexpectedly high number of visitors.

Americans, it’s actually quite hard to move to Canada

Whereas the initial flight plans of Americans are likely to fade away at some point, bigger political question loom on the horizon. Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail expressed particular concerns over Trump's suggestions he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

China is also likely to be concerned about Trump's protectionist plans, to revitalize parts of the economy that saw job losses to China and other nations. During his campaign, Trump repeatedly referred to China, blaming the country for unfair competition, among other things.

From a defense point of view, however, Trump's unwillingness to support political allies in the region at all cost could reverberate across Asia.

Japan could feel the repercussions first. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump are scheduled to meet in New York later this month. Friendly words were exchanged Wednesday: In a phone call following Trump's election, Abe said he was convinced “America will be made even greater” because of Trump. The president-elect is said to have congratulated Abe for his country's economic performance.

But Japan fears the United States may be about to reconsider its security arrangements for the country. Trump has previously called Japan an economic rival and criticized the security treaty between the United States and Japan as unfair. A U.S. troop withdrawal from Japan and South Korea would significantly change Asia's balance of military power, benefiting China and North Korea.

The Philippines, a country branded a “terrorist nation” by Trump, likely reacted to his victory with mixed feelings.

“We’re dealing with animals,” Trump had said at a rally in August, referring to people entering the United States from the Philippines. That didn't go over too well in what is considered a key U.S. ally in Asia. A resolution was filed in the country's parliament in August to “refuse Donald J. Trump entry into the Philippines.”

Despite that, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte congratulated Trump on his victory, saying he looked forward to work on “enhanced Philippines-U.S. relations.”

“We both curse for the slightest reason. We are alike,” Duterte was quoted as saying by wire agencies.

Whether Trump would agree to that, however, remains unclear. He previously said Duterte had shown a lack of respect for the United States.


Ukraine is likely among the nations most concerned about the Trump victory. The president-elect's suggestion that the United States recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea will worry politicians in Kiev.

“Tell me I'm sleeping and this is a terrible nightmare!” Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of Ukraine's Anti-corruption Action Center, commented, according to Radio Free Europe. Ukraine has so far considered the United States to be its biggest single-state ally. Throughout his campaign, Trump, however, has dismissed calls for giving more support to the Ukrainian government.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's congratulatory remarks were filled with multiple caveats — a deviation in the normal diplomatic courtesy — as he stressed the need for U.S. sanctions against Russia and emphasized “our fight against Russian aggression, in our fight for freedom and democracy, and sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Germany, as well as most European nations, reacted cautiously to the Trump victory, as well. Over the past days, countless comparisons had been made on social media between Trump and Adolf Hitler. German officials refrained from using such rhetoric. Chancellor Angela Merkel's remarks nevertheless were among the world's least enthusiastic, despite her being a rather pragmatic leader who knows she will have to work with Trump.

“Germany and America are bound by common values — democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views,” Merkel explained. “It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments,” she said.

Merkel's rhetoric is almost always cautious. In that context, her remarks implied a great deal of skepticism about whether Trump could deliver on upholding those shared values. Similar concerns were shared by current or former leaders of Sweden, Italy, Spain and Greece, among others.

As my colleague Anthony Faiola pointed out, Merkel's deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, was far less diplomatic. Referring to Trump and his allies, he said: “They want a rollback to the bad old times in which women belonged by the stove or in bed, gays in jail and unions at best at the side table.”

In the Middle East, Iran warned Trump to not reverse the nuclear deal struck between the regime and the Obama administration. Obama had lifted some sanctions on Iran in return.

Palestinians were similarly discouraged by Trump's victory and his previous announcement to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Such a decision, accompanied by U.S. acceptance of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, would diminish hopes for more Palestinian autonomy or a two-state solution.

Mexico was one of Trump's first targets in the Republican primaries. His plans to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border, and claims that Mexico will pay for it, created a backlash south of the border. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto compared Trump to Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Mexico also is concerned about Trump possibly revoking NAFTA.

Despite Peña Nieto meeting Trump before the elections and them agreeing to meet again soon, chances of friendly Trump-Mexico relations are rather low, at the moment.

Read more: 

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