Polling stations in the United States are open for the important midterm elections, which seem to have a good chance that the Republicans will win. With no control in the House and Senate, incumbent President Joe Biden has a tough few years ahead of him. BNR foreign commentator Bernard Hammelburg predicts that the consequences for Europe are significant.
Although punishing the incumbent president during the midterm elections is the rule rather than the exception, this battle for control in the House and in the Senate has turned into a volatile race. The Democrats’ lead nearly evaporated after a strong catch-up race by the Republicans. Still, we shouldn’t look too much at the polls, says America’s Correspondent Jan Postma. “They’re really so close together, that in principle they could go either way.”
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At the beginning of the campaign, abortion was the main issue of this election. However, inflation, and thus the economy as a whole, has taken over the debate. “Voters generally have more faith in Democrats when it comes to the economy,” Postma says. “But there’s a lot of frustration about increasing costs, both from groceries and from fuel prices that are so important to Americans.”
Even though he’s not running this election, former President Donald Trump is casting a shadow over this midterm election. He announced yesterday that he will be making a “very important announcement” on November 15th. According to Hammelburg, it is inevitable that he will announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. He has been working on this for some time, but he will also look diagonally at today’s result. If the Republicans win there, he’ll say it’s because of him.”
Trump’s shadow over this election is far-reaching, Hamelburg says. In the Netherlands, you also see national politicians on TV during regional and local elections. Obviously, this election is about power in Congress, but Joe Biden and Donald Trump are fighting this battle.” Thus, Trump’s influence can be seen mainly in the widespread doubts about the results of the previous presidential elections and also the results of this round of elections. It’s really down to the Trump effect.” Within the Republican Party there is a growing group of politicians who are convinced that the previous election has been stolen.
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Reporter Postma says that if the Democrats lose, incumbent President Joe Biden will have tough years ahead. Republicans will block all plans of the Democrats. This means that the abortion law will not be passed. And the Republicans will come up with a flood of investigations into Biden himself and his son, Hunter.”
This is not the first time that voters have punished a sitting president. The same thing happened with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They lost power in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and were paralyzed. Because if you lose power in both places, all that is left is foreign policy and presidential decree. However, both presidents were re-elected for a second term, Hammelburg stresses. Despite this slap in the face, both were given a second term by the voters. So a president without power in parliament is not immediately lost.
Although these midterm elections appear to be an internal affair, Bernard Hammelburg believes that the consequences of the Republican gains will be felt in Europe. You can expect Republicans to take a very critical view of military support for Ukraine. And under Trump, the alliance between America and Europe was already troublesome. That was restored under Biden, but with so many Republicans in power, things could start to shake again.”
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