As voting officials in the US continue to count millions of remaining ballots from Tuesday’s hotly contested presidential election, the rest of the world is holding its breath with the result too close to call early Wednesday. A handful of battleground states are at the center of a nail-biter contest that could take days or weeks to resolve — quite possibly in the courts.
Incumbent President Donald Trump falsely declared victory and alleged electoral fraud — without proof — from the White House in a late-night address. Trump also pledged to take the fight to the Supreme Court, leaving many onlookers urging patience in the vote tallying process and respect for democratic norms.
Meanwhile, reactions of world leaders, politicians and foreign policy experts have been mixed, with some calling for patience and others incorrectly claiming Trump had beat Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Here’s what some of them are saying.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted to congratulate President Donald Trump for winning, long before officials had finished counting the votes. Twitter attached a misinformation warning label to the tweet.
It’s pretty clear that American people have elected @realDonaldTrump @Mike_Pence for #4moreyears. More delays and facts denying from #MSM, bigger the final triumph for #POTUS. Congratulations @GOP for strong results across the #US @idualliance pic.twitter.com/vzSwt9TBeF— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) November 4, 2020
And in Italy, former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, a far-right populist leader, tweeted a photo of himself in a Trump mask and wrote that newspapers were wrong in saying Biden would win.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged caution: “Let’s wait and see what the outcome is. There’s obviously a significant amount of uncertainty. It’s much closer than I think many had expected.”
Elsewhere around Europe, some leaders remained silent while others called for patience. And in Germany, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warned on Wednesday: “This is a situation that can lead to a constitutional crisis in the US, as experts are rightly saying. And it is something that must cause us great concern.” Kramp-Karrenbauer also heads Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party.
US allies Canada and Australia urged caution, too. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he's watching the race but isn't yet picking up the phone to make a congratulatory phone call. “We will allow the American elections, obviously, to unfold as they will. And Canada will watch.” And Australian Labour Senator Penny Wong tweeted: “Americans have voted in historic numbers in this election. They deserve to have their voices heard.”
In China, which has an increasingly complex rivalry with the US during the Trump administration, Beijing did not express a stance on the issue. Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday, “The US election is a domestic affair. China has no position on it.” But Hu Xinjin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a Chinese state media outlet, compared the potential unrest around the United States’ election to that of “poor countries.”
Ahead of the election, some businesses in the US are boarding up their store windows fearing post-election unrest. This kind of unrest is usually complication of elections in poor countries, but people are worried it may appear in the US. The US is in degradation. pic.twitter.com/bBzPiwhVgg— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 3, 2020
In Russia, Pro-Kremlin lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov seemed to welcome the uncertainty surrounding US election results. He had cheered Trump’s win in 2016. "The result of the elections is the worst outcome for America,” he wrote on Facebook. “Whoever wins the legal battles, half of Americans will not consider them the lawful president. Let's stock up on large quantities of popcorn."
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been poisoned and attacked for challenging the Kremlin and trying to make Russia more democratic, even suggested that the delay was comforting — a sign of democracy at work.
"Woke up and went on Twitter to see who won. Still unclear. Now that's (what I call) elections," he tweeted.
Проснулся, полез в твиттер, чтобы узнать, кто выиграл. До сих пор ничего неясно. Вот это выборы, так выборы.— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) November 4, 2020
Associated Press contributed reporting.