World shudders at a Trump presidency
BRUSSELS—Following Donald Trump’s breathtaking string of Super Tuesday victories, politicians, editorial writers and ordinary people worldwide were coming to grips on Wednesday with the growing possibility the brash New York billionaire might become America’s next President—a thought that aroused widespread befuddlement and a good deal of horror.
“The Trump candidacy has opened the door to madness: for the unthinkable to happen, a bad joke to become reality,” German business daily Handelsblatt wrote in a commentary for its Thursday edition. “What looked grotesque must now be discussed seriously.”
There was glee from some commentators at how American politics is being turned topsy-turvy in 2016, but the dominant reaction overseas to the effective collapse of the Republican Party establishment in the face of the Trump Train appeared to be jaw-dropping astonishment, mixed with dread at what may lie ahead.
“The meteoric rise of the New York magnate has left half the planet dumbfounded,” columnist Andrea Rizzi wrote in Spain’s leading newspaper, El Pais.
“To consider Donald Trump a political clown would be a severe misconception,” said another European daily, Salzburger Nachrichten.
If Trump is elected to the White House, the Austrian paper predicted, his ideas “would bring major dangers for the USA and the world … basically a nationalist-chauvinist policy that would make America not great but ugly, and risk the stability of the international order,” the newspaper said.
Trump has drawn concern in China, but not a huge amount of attention despite Trump repeatedly invoking the Asian giant during his campaign to cite US weakness that he would turn around, accusing Beijing of manipulating its currency, stealing American jobs and unfair competition.
“If, hypothetically, Trump became the US President and he held on to his stance and proposals made during the election, China-US relations would be in big trouble in many aspects such as security and economics,” said Xiong Zhiyong, international relations expert at China Foreign Affairs University.
“In that case, US foreign relations policies will undergo a huge change,” Xiong warned.
Thuraya Ebrahim al Arrayed, a member of Saudi Arabia’s top advisory body, the Shura Council, said a Trump presidency would be “catastrophic” and set the world back “not just generations, but centuries.”
“We pray to God that a racist, politically incorrect personality does not win the election,” she said. “How can he tell Muslim students going there to study that he will shut the door in Muslim faces?”
Writing in the Financial Times of London, Martin Wolf summed up the mood of a good share of Europe’s business and economic elite, arguing that it would be a “global disaster” if Trump, who won seven states in Tuesday’s Republican contests, made it all the way to the Oval Office.
“Mr. Trump is a promoter of paranoid fantasies, a xenophobe and an ignoramus. His business consists of the erection of ugly monuments to his own vanity. He has no experience of political office. Some compare him to Latin American populists,” Wolf wrote.
A Japanese online commentator used much the same language, and likened the Republican front-runner to the evil nemesis of wizard Harry Potter.
Trump’s unexpected political rise reflects “elitism and opposition to globalization, but at its heart is a xenophobia and populism that comes from ignorance,” said Masato Kimura, former London bureau chief for the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun.
“Although this is another country’s election, Japan’s allies should raise their voices to help prevent the birth of a ‘Voldemort’ President in the United States,” Kimura added.
In the Mexican newspaper Reforma, columnist Sergio Aguayo compared anti-Mexican sentiments unleashed by Trump to the anticommunist Red Scares of the 20th century, and accused Trump of igniting a “brown panic.”
“We must answer again and again Donald Trump, and make the US government understand that we’re not willing to continue being pointed out as the only ones responsible for problems that are also caused by the United States,” Aguayo wrote.
La Jornada, a leftist Mexican newpaper, ran a caricature of Trump wearing a “KKK” necktie and declaring, “I will make cremation ovens for the Mexicans and Muslims … and they will pay for their construction!”
A few praises
In Europe, where some also feel their nations are being submerged by waves of foreign migrants and violent Islamic radicalism is a real danger, not all have condemned Trump.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s far-right National Front, has said that if he were an American, he would cast his ballot for Trump.
On Wednesday, Laurent Wauquiez, a French conservative lawmaker, said Trump’s popularity was revealing of a general trend that had traversed the Atlantic.
“What it shows is that in democracies today, citizens no longer want people to tell them what they should think, what they should say. That’s what makes Donald Trump seductive,” Wauquiez told France 2 Television.
For weeks, a Canadian website has poked fun at Trump by inviting disaffected Americans to move to an island off Nova Scotia.
On Super Tuesday, as the returns rolled in, searches for “How can I move to Canada” on Google spiked by more than 350 percent in four hours, Google editor Simon Rogers tweeted.
A social media link posted by Toronto Councilman Norm Kelly that gives helpful directions on how to apply for Canadian citizenship received over 37,000 retweets.
Bruce Arthur, a Canadian sportswriter and political commentator, tweeted this after Super Tuesday: “To my American friends, I have an eight-person tent that I can set up in the forest behind my house but you may need your own air mattresses.”
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