The Swiss press were as surprised as anyone by Trump’s victory in the United States’ presidential election. How the controversial businessman will act on the foreign stage is their big question.
The NZZ commentary on the outcome was “The wrong president”. The paper says the big question now is how different President Trump will be from candidate Trump.
“America, the land of opportunity, lived up to its billing – in a negative sense. The country has elected a president with no political experience and up to now only known as a property magnate and reality TV star. It’s not at all clear what his election means, since his only conviction seems to be opportunism.”
The NZZ says the excellent checks and balances of the United States’ political system must now come into play to limit Trump’s power, as long as a Republican majority in Congress will take its role seriously.
However, foreign policy is a different case where the president has a lot of autonomy: “No one can stop the 70-year-old from carrying out his campaign promise to withdraw US support for NATO states, band together with Putin and pull US advisors out of Syria and Iraq. Trump will be the commander of the world’s mightiest army and even without congressional approval can send the armed forces into war for at least 90 days.”
Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger says Trump as president could turn everything on its head, from the global climate treaty to trade accords and the deal with Iran on nuclear weapons.
The paper’s Washington correspondent said the outcome of the vote “will likely convulse the world for years to come. It’s not particularly comforting to hear from the Trump camp that the new President will nominate Newt Gingrich as his Secretary of State. It is not only the US that must prepare for turbulent times ahead.”
The Geneva paper described the result as a “leap into the void”. “Trump reinvented the style of campaigning by betting on provocation and media omnipresence”.
He had no real programme but a “powerful, simple and emotional message”: Make America great again.
His promises were an illusion but were reassuring to Americans whose lives were disrupted by the “shocks of globalisation and society 2.0”.
“Americans were ready for a break, preferring the uncertainty of an erratic president to the assurance of a Democrat policy in line with Obama and Bill Clinton”.
“The US once again showed its propensity to play the role of a laboratory of society and democracy. A giant laboratory whose experiments will have an impact on the world of tomorrow”.
Trump is likely to clean up the establishment, starting with his own party. Heavyweight Republicans who went against him will pay dearly.
“The reverse is spectacular, not just for Clinton but also the politico-financial establishment that never stopped being self-serving”.
The tabloid newspaper called Trump’s victory “The punishment for neglect”. Its editorial followed the NZZ in wondering whether America’s system of checks and balances can reign him in. Blick lays a large part of the blame at the feet of the US media for not taking him – and his scandal-ridden past – seriously enough.
“Now, this laughing stock is president. The world is laughing no more. A majority of US voters will be thrilled and [his victory] will be confirmation and that’s their right. But only time will tell how long their excitement will last.”
Geneva’s Le Temps says it is a paradox that only the US is capable of producing. The world’s most powerful country elects a “sexist and xenophobic” businessman with an “unpredictable and borderline” personality.
Obama’s dignified presidency was unable to “calm the profound rage that runs through this great democracy”.
“Inequalities created by a system obsessed with economic growth without being able to distribute it equitably have left too many people by the roadside”.
Those excluded such as poor whites and minorities who want to appear integrated have embraced the “dark side of the American soul”.
The campaign marked the end of political correctness towards weaker sections of society and minorities. Trump’s election shows that the majority nurse a “hatred of the elite, including the media”.
Republicans were unable to contain the ascent of firebrand Trump while Democrats were forced to acknowledge the popularity of Bernie Sanders and his left-leaning politics. For both parties reconstruction will prove to be a difficult exercise.
The Aargauer Zeitung called Trump’s victory “A popular uprising”. “The historical aspect of this election is not that a woman will enter the White House for the first time, but an outsider – a person whose own party establishment was against – will become the 45th President of the United States.”
The paper blamed Clinton for losing to such an “absurd candidate”, having had her entire party behind her, a majority of the media, Wall Street and Hollywood.
“But that was exactly the problem. Trump’s triumph was a vote of no confidence – a popular uprising if you will: against the Clinton clan, the parties, international cooperation, migration, Washington, the media, the elite and politics.”
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