Republican Donald Trump won an unexpected victory in the American presidential elections, beating Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.
His victory was fueled by an ever-growing anti-establishment feeling, especially among working-class white men. However, Hillary Clinton would have probably won the race if it wasn’t for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s decision to investigate a new set of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails less than two weeks before the vote. The Bureau finally found no wrongdoing, but by the time of the announcement Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls largely vanished.
Donald Trump’s victory announcement led to drops on stock markets all over the world (and, as an anecdote, the site of Canada’s immigration bureau was blocked).
His election is worrying because of his temperament, his gaffes but also his proposed policies especially:
Foreign and security policy
For Romania, the most worrying Trump statements were on the role of NATO, that Trump considers obsolete and raised the idea of “replacing” it with something else. He also undermined one of the pillars of the alliance when he said that US will not help an ally attacked by another country, unless that country contributes more for defense.
Also, some of his proposals were considered ignorant or dangerous, like the one to give nuclear weapons to some Asian countries, something that would affect the stability of entire regions.
Another aspect where Romania should pay attention is Trump’s admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the declaration that he could cut “a deal” with the Kremlin leader, something that created anxiety in Europe, Romania included. We could predict that the American and NATO military presence in Romania will continue (as sure as you can be in a Trump presidency) and that Eastern Europe will not be totally abandoned, but a lack of predictability, negligence on some strategic areas or deals with Russia are not out of the question.
The problem is that Trump sees the world as a game between just a few big actors and where punishment, aggression, revenge and hand-forcing of the weakest are the primary tools, at least according to his declarations.
He acts as if the other big powers will either cut deals with America or could “lose” in undefined way. The role of the smaller countries is not mentioned in these “deals”. Their interests might be protected (totally or partially). Or they might not be. We don’t know. And we have only few hints.
Donald Trump opposes free-trade deals like Nafta and TPP (in his own words, not because he is anti-free trade, but because they were “badly negotiated). The future of transatlantic free trade proposal (TTIP) is in doubt (even more than it is at the moment).
The President-elect acted as an isolationist in the electoral campaign and, even though some things will most likely change, he will probably not be a totally pro-trade leader.
He came to power on a wave of populism, discontent towards free trade deals and growing skepticism towards an open world. He will at least partially remember that.
Relations with European Union/European countries
Donald Trump focused less than other candidates on relations with the European countries and the European Union, but is at least skeptical towards the EU. He welcomed Brexit and predicted that EU will disintegrate due to the fact that people are “fed up” with it and it is not a viable construction.
His statement that he first wants a trade deal with Great Britain means that he is would rather leave others aside. Will he do it? We will see.
Donald Trump is probably the most unpredictable President-elect in recent American history. His surprising declarations, his flip-flops, the lack of substance of most of his proposed policies are unwelcome signs in a world that needs predictability more than ever.
However, neither the world as a whole, nor Romania should see Trump’s election as a tragedy. The American political system means more than the Presidency. Furthermore, Donald Trump could and will not apply most of his electoral promises as some are unviable while others were never meant to become reality.
On top of that, America will be constrained by the realities of a world where more and more powerful actors are rising.
Donald Trump’s presidency will be one of the most challenging processes the world has faced. What will come of it is an open question.
Does the anti-establishment vote influence Romania?
The whole world is witness to anti-establishment attitudes, with people voting against the perceived “elites” in countries as diverse as United Kingdom , Greece, Spain.
Could Romania see a model in these developments? First of all, the anti-establishment feeling in Romania, although present, is much more dispersed than in other countries, it does not have a focal point.
Some perceive the anti-establishment as being anti-old parties, some perceive their anti-establishment attitudes by voting against supporters of the “SRI-DNA system”. Others perceive something similar to “the establishment” in the European Union and vote for parties that are less Europhile.
There is only one anti-establishment political force that would fit the “classic” definition of being against the old elites: Union Save Romania (USR). However, it is still underdeveloped and addresses mainly urban educated voters.
The anti-establishment vote that brought Trump to power will not serve as a model in Romania, but there are political forces that could draw inspiration from it.