US Election 2020: How the world is reacting to knife-edge vote

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A US presidential election always courts massive global interest, with the eventual winner playing a leading role on the world stage.

In fact, the decision of the American people every four years can transform the country’s foreign policy and its approach to its allies and enemies alike.

So it’s no wonder that countries around the world have been paying close attention to the neck-and-neck race for the White House.

Our colleagues from BBC Monitoring have rounded up the global media reaction so far.

Short presentational grey line
Relations between the US and China, which are longstanding rivals and duelling economic powers, have sunk to their lowest level in decades.

And both candidates in this election have pledged to be strong in dealing with Beijing.

With this in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Chinese state media branded this a “divisive, tense and chaotic” election marred by “unrest, mud-slinging and money politics”.

“Many media and people worry that if the election is contested, it may trigger chaos and even social unrest,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

“Tension and chaos loom over US election day,” read the front-page headline of the state-run Global Times newspaper.

Meanwhile, the state broadcaster CCTV featured a video report which focused on fears of post-election violence amid record numbers of Covid-19 infections and deaths. “There is deep concern about continued social unrest,” the report said.

Latin America

Latin American media took particular note of Donald Trump’s success in Florida, which was boosted by support from Latino voters.

“Trump’s victory in Florida buries the prospect of a… Democratic triumph,” the prominent Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo said in a headline. “Votes of Venezuelan, Cuban Latinos, and evangelicals, boosted the current president,” it added below.

Image shows Latinos for Trump t-shirts
image captionDonald Trump won support from Latino voters in Florida

Commentators in the region honed in on Mr Trump’s victory in the Sunshine State. They said it showed that the Republican president’s strategy of associating his Democratic rival Joe Biden with socialism had found resonance among Cuban and Venezuelan exile voters.

“Trump has locked up another key electoral group in Florida: the Cuban Americans and other Hispanics convinced that only the president guarantees that they will be safe from a socialist government,” Colombian daily El Espectador said.


In Russia, the state-run TV news channel Rossiya 24 has been giving blanket coverage to the election. “We are continuing to follow the madness,” one of the presenters said earlier.

It’s worth remembering that US intelligence believe Russia tried to sway the 2016 election in favour of Mr Trump, an accusation Moscow has repeatedly denied.

But the two anchors on Rossiya 24 joked about potential accusations of bias towards the incumbent president. “Some comrades… will listen to us now and conclude that we have already declared Trump the winner,” one presenter said, to which the other replied: “It is pure mathematics, nothing more.”

Elsewhere in Europe, various newspapers have headlined on the closeness of the race and the uncertainty surrounding the result.

“More and more observers who had previously assumed a clear victory for challenger Joe Biden are asking: Can Trump still make it?”, the German tabloid Bild said.

“The battle is much tighter than expected: there is no Democratic wave,” France Inter news reported. “Donald Trump has won in almost every state where he was supposed to win,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Italian newspaper Il Giornale warned about the risk of potential civil unrest. “America is on the verge of catching fire,” it said.

Middle East
News coverage here has reflected the uncertainty over the outcome, with Saudi-funded Al Arabiya TV reiterating that it could be days before a result emerges.

Egyptian newspapers, meanwhile, have highlighted what they described as “historic turnout”.

With results pouring in, Iran’s international-facing state-funded Press TV dropped its scheduled news bulletins to provide special coverage of the American election.

The “threat of civil war” was a prominent talking point, with one presenter saying that, for outside observers, the election “looks very scary”.

Rolling state-run news channel IRINN also said the election had been held “under the shadow of fear of unrest”.


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