Does Trump’s candidacy matter internationally?

Titilayo Farukuoye
Staff Writer

“Do you support Trump?” “Ahhh, the election, so exciting, right?” “But why are people voting for him (Donald Trump)?” These are questions Philip Rooney, a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, heard frequently while studying abroad at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.

As the whole world is watching the US’s presidential campaigns, fevering up to election day, many are keen to keep up to date with its daily developments.

Outside of the US, everyone seems eager to interrogate US-Americans about their experiences and knowledge of the election, impatient to gain a first-hand perspective of the issue. But what do foreigners think of the election?

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International media is reporting about Donald Trump everywhere, making it hard to be ignorant of his rhetoric or clueless about Trump’s persona. Statements like “I will build a wall,” and “Mexico will pay for it,” resonate widely and long after they have been said.

Along with the accusation that Mexicans are rapists and bring drugs and crime to the US, the many sexist and islamophobic remarks Trump has used since his first speech, opening the electoral race, are famous.

Looking at the international response to the campaign, Pew Research states that 45 percent of Chinese and 42 percent of Indians have a positive impression of the election, while 75 percent of people in Australia and 69 percent in Canada perceive it in a negative way.

Like an overwhelming majority in most of the Western World, Simran Kaur from Glasgow, Scotland, is very concerned about Trump’s politics, “As a Sikh and a woman of color I wouldn’t want to voluntarily travel to America as I have seen how ethnic and religious minorities are treated by law enforcement and the perceptions of them by prominent political figures”.

“Moreover, I have become quite worried for my family members who have immigrated to America from India and how they will be affected by the outcome of the election,” Kaur continued.

The young woman, who is Vice President of Diversity at Strathclyde University’s Student Association in Glasgow, also points at Brexit when talking about hate speech, racism, sexism and xenophobia as an example of the continuous rise in hate, legitimized in politics.

“This means that seeing racism in politics isn’t something people are even surprised to see. Racists climb up the political latter with little to no backlash,” Kaur said.

A British petition demanding to “ban Donald J. Trump from the United Kingdom,” proclaimed in December, also signifies Trump’s unpopularity in the UK. With almost 587,000 signatures, it easily reached enough support to be brought to parliament.

George Osborne, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, still decided not to follow the request. He preferred to stay on a communicational basis with the Republican nominee.

“The best way to defeat nonsense like this is to engage in a robust democratic debate and make it very clear that his views are not welcome,” Osborne said.

Scotland reacted more firmly to Trump’s rhetoric. Responding to his call to ban Muslims from entering the US, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, removed Trump from the list of international ambassadors of GlobalScot’s business club. Trump, whose mother was Scottish, had been with the association since 2006.

Also, some of Scotland’s public showed their disapproval, and protested, waving Mexican flags at Trump’s golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on his next visit.

Internationally, newspaper headlines all around the globe reveal great engagement with the US election, which show wide and continuously coverage of the campaign finds ThinkProgress reporter Adrienne Mahsa Varkianilike.

In her article, she points at headlines like, “God help us all if Trump wins,” declared by the South African City Press News Paper in February, or the German news website, Spiegel Online, calling Trump the, “World’s Most Dangerous Man,” that also caught Varkianilike’s attention.

But there are also celebratory articles from Russia, comparing Trump to their leader Vladimir Putin, and other more supportive views for Trump from Israel are taken into account by the journalist.

Kaur casts light on the US electoral race’s presence particularly in online networks, “It’s constantly in our media, and particularly on social media which is an international space, and sometimes is an US-centric place”, the Glaswegian said.

“I feel like I am generally up to date on the US elections, simply because I see and hear about it everywhere! “I wouldn’t say I actively seek to follow the US elections,” explained Kaur.

Also on the South American continent, people feel close to the US election. “Every country has its own Trump”, said Iam Estebanez Chebar, a student at the University of Niteroi, Brazil, drawing the connection between Trump and other radical populists in his own country.

Even though the engineering student did not actively follow the electoral campaign in close detail, Estebanez Chebar has a good grasp of major events and the latest developments in the election.

“Because it’s the US, it influences the whole economy and the whole world! [That’s why] everyone is afraid of this happening!” voices Estebanez Chebar,  stating his concerns about Trump winning the election.

“If he (Trump) was running in Botswana nobody would care. But Trump is a threat to a lot of countries. It counts!” said Estebanez Chebar.

Giving insight to the frustration of the Brazilian population, which in many cases can be attributed to the flaws of the current leftist government, Estebanez Chebar explained the new popularity and rise of what he calls Brazil’s own Trump.

According to him, Brazilians tend to greatly doubt their administration, due to corruption allegations against the recently resigned president and several more members of parliament.

Therefore, “Brazil tends to be right wing. People lost hope,” Estebanez Chebar explained, “If Trump wins, Brazil will be aligned with him. The next election will be a right-wing fiesta.”

The Brazilian, who places himself centered in the political landscape, said that he lost interest in the US election after the fight narrowed down to Trump and Clinton.

“I was a super Bernie Sanders supporter,” Estebanez Chebar recounted enthusiastically. “He (Sanders) is different from Hillary, more empathetic. He (Sanders) talked about deeper change. I was waiting for him!” explained the Brazilian passionately.

Reflecting on the discrepancy between the two country’s take on socialism and welfare projects, Estebanez Chebar finds that Sanders’ ideas were perhaps too radical for the United States.

“From what I know, see and hear these ideas are completely normal. Maybe they are just normal for us (Brazilians) but radical for the people in the US?” the young man asks.

Back in Europe, a Pew Research shows that there is a higher level of confidence in Trump among euroskeptics and anti-immigrant parties, then elsewhere.

19 percent of right-wing Alternative for Germany (AFD) party supporters’ have confidence in Trump. While only three percent of Germans, who are not in favour of AFD, endorse the Republican nominee.

Serafin Fellinger, an Austrian student closely involved with the Austrian Green Party, offers insight into how the election is seen in the central European nation.

“In Austrian Media, he (Donald Trump) is depicted as an insane person. They portray him as an immediate threat. It’s like if Trump is elected, Europe will fail,” Fellinger said.

A Pew Research looking at international support of US-American political figures states that 85 percent of Europeans lack confidence in Trump handling world affairs well. This stands in harsh contrast with 77 percent of Europeans who expressed confidence in the current US President, Barack Obama.

A considerately smaller number, but nevertheless pivotal, are the 59 percent of Europeans, who trust in Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s ability to handle global issues well.

The distrust in Trump’s character does not undermine his great presence in the media, where hardly a day passes without Trump making the headlines.

“Trump’s manifestation in the political sphere has a reassuring effect, on extreme-right allies around the globe,” Fellinger points out.

“If he is elected, world politics will face a paradigm shift, empowering radical and populist voices,” Fellinger said.

The Viennese dissected that extreme right, populist opinions are on the rise and more dominant in the political domain than they used to.

“This can be seen with Brexit in Great Britain, put also the rise of extreme right parties like the AFD in Germany, Front National in France and the Freedom Party (FPÖ) in Austria,” said the Young Greens advocate, naming some European examples.

“To me Trump is like Orban, Strache and Hofer combined,” said Fellinger merging the Hungarian president and the central figures of the Austrian Freedom Party to describe his take of the Republican nominee, Trump.

Looking at the presidential election in Austria in December, just shortly after the US election, Fellinger points at a dilemma facing the Austrian right.

“Hofer will have to pick sides, to either be with Trump and face the humiliation that comes with it, or distance himself from Trump, which would mean to distance himself from some of his own statements and opinions shared with Trump,” the student said.

In Fellinger’s view, “He (Trump) is a new powerful man for the right. He (Trump) would be a strong support for the extreme right in the European Union. That’s what I fear. It would have no good consequences,” Fellinger concluded.