EU leaders have demanded that all votes be counted amid a fierce presidential tally in the United States in which Republican President Donald Trump appeared locked in a closer-than-expected struggle with Democrat Joe Biden.
Politicians across the continent called for respect for the democratic process after Mr Trump prematurely declared victory and called on officials to stop counting votes, arguing without evidence that there had been election interference after weeks statements in which he had undermined confidence in postal voting.
While Mr Trump has been cold and at times hostile to the EU, and an Ipsos poll showed Europeans would choose Mr Biden over Mr Trump by a landslide, EU leaders have reacted cautiously to the results , aware that the transatlantic relationship will remain vital regardless of the winner.
“The United States will be an important partner for us no matter how the elections go,” German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told reporters as he began a meeting with his European counterparts. “What is important for us is that everything is counted and that we have a clear result at the end of democratic elections in democratic procedures.”
But Saskia Esken, the leader of the Social Democratic Party of which Mr Scholz is a member, went further and criticized Trump’s calls to stop the vote count.
“A candidate, even if he is an incumbent president, who asks that postal votes not be counted, is acting undemocratically,” Esken said in a statement. “It is more true than ever that we must defend our democratic gains against populist and nationalist agitation.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called the “battle for the legitimacy of the outcome” a “very explosive situation”.
“Experts rightly say this could lead to a constitutional crisis in the United States. And that’s something that must certainly be of great concern to us as a whole, ”said Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, who heads Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party.
Spaniard Iratxe Garcia Perez, leader of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, tweeted that “Trump’s behavior undermines American democracy” and expressed the wish that Mr. Biden “bring new hope to both American citizens and the whole world”.
Trump’s supporters among the European right, however, were heartened by the result, with right-wing populist Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša rushing to congratulate the outgoing president on Twitter.
“It’s pretty clear that the American people elected” Trump, wrote Janša, accusing the “mainstream media” of “delaying and denying the facts.”
Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen told French television that “Trump’s re-election is better for France.”
“A leader who pleads for the return of the nation, patriotism, borders and sovereignty is in my opinion in the same direction as history,” said Ms. Le Pen.
Either way, the tight result deepened the feeling in Europe that the continent can no longer count on the United States to strengthen its power and interests, sparking debates on increasing defense cooperation in the United States. ‘EU and economic autonomy.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in a radio interview that “the United States has not been a friendly partner of European states for several years now” and whatever the outcome, that will not change. not.
“Europe needs to grow and grow fast,” tweeted Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld as the votes were counted.
“Looking at the chaos across the Atlantic, I am more certain than ever that Europeans are stronger together in an uncertain world,” wrote Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt. “Whatever the outcome, the EU must take its destiny into its own hands.”
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dodged calls to comment on Donald Trump’s call to stop the vote count, saying: ‘As the UK government we do not comment on the democratic processes of our friends and allies .
In the Prime Minister’s questions to the Commons, Labor leader Keir Starmer asked him if he agreed that “it is not for the candidate to say which votes count or do not count or when to stop to count “in the American elections.
– Additional report: Guardian