The world looked ahead Saturday to new American leadership, with U.S. allies and rivals alike starting to predict what the change in the White House would mean for their relations with the United States and for American engagement more generally.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Congratulatory messages poured in from around the world to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala D. Harris.
  • Spontaneous celebrations broke out on streets in London, Berlin and other cities.
  • President Trump has continued to make unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud, retweeting misleading claims about the integrity of the vote count.
  • Trump’s far-right allies, notably Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, encouraged him to keep up the fight and railed against mail-in ballots.

It did not take long after Joe Biden’s victory was projected for world leaders to unleash the normal flood of congratulatory messages. But for those abroad who have felt uneasy with President Trump and his norm-breaking style, it was a much-awaited moment of optimism and even jubilation.

A crowd in Black Lives Matter Plaza celebrated hours after President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris were projected winners. (The Washington Post)

Shouts of “Biden!” and cheers broke out in Berlin, London, Toronto and other cities when the excruciating wait for an announcement came to an end. On Twitter, echoing Paris’ mayor, people tweeted out, “Welcome Back, America.”

Many hope that Trump’s unilateralism and America-first populism will give way to an era of renewed U.S. global leadership and an embrace of multilateralism to tackle common challenges.

“It’s good that there are finally clear numbers. We look forward to working with the next U.S. administration,” tweeted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. “We want to invest in cooperation for a transatlantic new beginning, a new deal.

Reinhard Bütikofer, a German member of European Parliament, quipped, “I heard a Pan-European sigh of relief, when Biden’s victory was called.”

Though Trump had yet to acknowledge his defeat, some of the foreign leaders closest to him did not delay in sending their congratulations to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his congratulations., saying, “The U.S. is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security.”

Poland’s right-wing President Andrzej Duda, who has been politically aligned with Trump, cautiously tweeted to congratulate Biden “for a successful presidential campaign.” Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, whom Trump once called his “favorite dictator,” sent his best wishes to Biden, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the president-elect. He also noted that Harris’s Indian heritage is “a source of immense pride.”

Harris’s family hometown in southern India — the birthplace of her maternal grandfather — had already been holding celebrations in her honor ahead of the traditional Diwali festival. Meanwhile, Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, also saluted her family ties to Jamaica, the birthplace of her father, as well as her “monumental accomplishment for women.”

In Biden’s ancestral hometown in Ireland, a crowd gathered to pop champagne. “I want to congratulate the new President Elect of the USA @JoeBiden Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead,” wrote Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin in a nod to Biden’s Irish heritage.

Perhaps the first foreign leader to congratulate Biden was Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, who said in a tweet — even before the election was formally called — that they must work together to confront a warming planet and rebuild the global economy.

Hours later, congratulations from world leaders and others — who were watching the vote count unfold over days — were finally uncorked as soon as U.S. news organizations declared Biden the winner. Leaders with diverse views and priorities — from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron to Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — were quick to share their enthusiasm about working with Biden.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged Biden to “deploy his vast experience in tackling the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs — which have created divisions and uncertainties — and to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respect and shared interests.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged Biden to “deploy his vast experience in tackling the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs — which have created divisions and uncertainties — and to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respect and shared interests.”

Some U.S. rivals, however, reacted differently. The People’s Daily China, an official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, chose instead to taunt Trump by retweeting his boast that he’d won the election and commenting “HaHa” with a laughing emoji.

Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei did not directly mention Biden or Trump in a tweet denouncing the election as a sign of the “definite political, civil, & moral decline of the US regime.” But Iranian Vice President Eshaq was more optimistic, saying, “I hope we will see a change in the destructive policies of the United States, a return to the rule of law and international obligations and respect for nations.”

Politics and pandemic

The pandemic has added urgency to Biden’s pledge to reverse Trump’s approach, which has left the United States estranged from the World Health Organization and facing the highest numbers of deaths and new cases at home.

After Trump withdrew from the WHO, Biden promised to rejoin it on his first day in office. Biden is a “globalist at heart,” wrote Natasha Kassam, a research fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute political think tank, in the Guardian.

Other Trump policies are also in doubt. The Times of India, which anticipated Biden’s win with the headline “Bye Don, It’s Biden Finally,” said that H1-B work visas — allowing nonimmigrants to work in the United States — are unlikely to return in their previous numbers, even if the Biden administration has a more favorable immigration policy. But it noted that the Democrats could be stronger about challenging human rights violations in India.

In China, relations with the United States have fallen to their lowest point in 40 years amid bitter disputes over trade, technology, human rights and the novel coronavirus. But hopes have been stirred that a Biden win might act as a circuit-breaker and offer possible cooperation in certain areas.

Still, an op-ed in the nationalistic Global Times tabloid noted deep partisan divisions in the United States that it said would not be easily eased.

With Trump determined to contest the election results in court, some foreign commentators expressed their fears.

“The squatter” was the title of the Saturday cover of Der Spiegel, a leading German news magazine. A defiant, fatigue-clad Trump is depicted holding a rifle, barricaded in the Oval Office with a bullet-holed picture of a smiling Biden in the backdrop.

In Britain, the Guardian declared Trump in a “fight against reality,” but noted in an editorial that Biden would have his work cut out to “rebuild the U.S. government’s credibility after Trumpism hollowed out its institutions.”

In Japan, a burger outlet near a U.S. naval base followed a long tradition of naming a burger after every sitting American president by adding the Biden Burger to its menu, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The Biden Burger pays homage to his Scranton, Pa., roots. It comes with Philadelphia-style cheese and potato chips to represent Pennsylvania, a major chip producer. The Trump Burger has a dash of jalapeño, “supposedly reflecting Trump’s sharp tongue,” NHK wrote.

Mahtani reported from Hong Kong and Berger from Washington. David Crawshaw in Hong Kong; Steve Hendrix in Jerusalem; Michael Birnbaum in Latvia, Riga; Kareem Fahim in Istanbul; Danielle Paquette in Dakar; William Booth and Karla Adam in London; Niha Masih in New Delhi; James McAuley in Paris; Susannah George in Kabul; Chico Harlan in Rome; Isabelle Khurshudyan in Moscow; Amanda Coletta in Toronto; Lesley Wroughton in Cape Town, South Africa, and Kate Chappell in Kingston, Jamaica, contributed to this report.