LONDON — Sighs of relief rippled through the capitals of the United States’ traditional allies Saturday after Joe Biden became president-elect.
Many leaders have been battered by four years of the convention-smashing President Donald Trump, and see in Biden a counterpart who will try and return America onto a path of multilateralism and international cooperation.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had a fraught relationship with Trump, was among the first world leaders to issue a statement congratulating Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris.
“Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage,” Trudeau wrote soon after news emerged that the former vice president had won the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, according to NBC News projections. “I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.”
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was less diplomatic.
“Welcome back America!” she wrote on Twitter. “Congratulations to Joe Biden andKamala Harris for their election!”
Messages from foreign leaders and officials are a common feature when a new U.S. president is elected. Less common, however, is the number this time around who have been referencing the previous administration — perhaps tacitly signposting their relief that it’s over — when delivering their congratulations.
The stretch after Election Day saw Trump and his allies repeatedly and falsely suggest that the ongoing count of eligible ballots was a sign of fraud. His campaign has filed lawsuits in battleground states, raising worries that he would not accept defeat.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump has said, repeating a baseless claim — there’s no evidence that any fraudulent ballots have been counted.
Comments like these deal a blow to America’s image as an exponent of democracy and will likely further warm some of America’s long-standing allies to a Biden victory.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who Trump has publicly criticized in the past, congratulated Biden on his win. While the country’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed on Twitter the “clear figures” that propelled Biden to victory.
Relations with NATO, and in particular Germany, were strained under Trump, so a new U.S. leader will be greeted warmly by many in the military alliance.
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The rush of congratulations from Europeans would make sense given Biden’s long track record as a supporter of strong trans-Atlantic ties.
“Biden will be more diplomatic toward allies across the board but particularly toward Europeans,” Hans Kundnani, a senior research fellow at the U.K.-based think tank Chatham House focusing on Europe and transatlantic relations, said before the election. “Europeans will be extremely relieved.”
Ahead of the result being called, one of Germany’s leading news outlets, Der Spiegel, led its website Friday with a story headlined “The Squatter,” illustrated with a drawing of Trump barricading himself into the Oval Office with a shotgun in hand ready to defend his position.
On news of Biden’s win Saturday, this was replaced with reframing Trump’s popular slogan: “Make America Great Again” as Biden reassembled the Statue of Liberty.
Not everyone will be overjoyed at the prospect of a Biden presidency.
A sense of unease is likely coursing through parts of the Middle East, where Trump’s White House has had especially close relationships with the leaders of longtime U.S. partners Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Egypt.
“They are going to try to coexist with Biden and make the best of a bad situation from their point of view,” Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, told NBC News. “They put most of their eggs in Trump’s basket — he’s been good to them.”
Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow will work with any U.S. leader, but Biden’s win will be a net negative for Russia, Moscow-based political analyst Vladimir Frolov said before the election.
Biden called Russia the biggest threat to U.S. national security last month — an assessment the Kremlin said encouraged hatred of Russia. He has also promised that Russia would pay an economic price if it interfered in the election.
“Moscow is paying close attention to this and does not like what it sees,” Frolov said.