Last week, the eyes of the world were on the United-States in a presidential election all the media desks from Paris to Tokyo had been anticipating feverishly. Most political commentators were left dumbfounded with each passing hour though, as the scenario of a Trump presidency was unfolding before them.
The press worldwide covered the US presidential campaign extensively, sometimes to the point of overload. There is no denying that the American elections were the talk of the town on a global scale, stirring heating debates on each side of the political spectrum, pros and antis discussing the potential impact of the elections on their respective countries.
Everyone had an opinion to share and millennials too, despite being often described as politically indolent, wanted to have a say. I interviewed five of them to hear their view on a Trump presidency and what consequences they thought it would have on their country, each of them offering a personal insight on a global political game-changer seen from beyond the United-States. *
Sarasa is 24 years old. She lives in Tokyo where she works as an office worker and is worried about the influence Trump could have on her country’s military policy.
“I was very surprised when I heard the news of Donald Trump’s victory as he was criticized a lot. I’m not too familiar with politics but he didn’t have a positive image at all so it was quite an unpredictable move.
It was truly unbelievable news for everyone in my office when it came out. We were also quite surprised to see that the Canadian immigration website had went down because many Americans would try to leave to Canada but we found it quite funny to tell the truth.
I don’t know whether the Japanese will like him or not but I don’t think that president Trump will ever be as popular as president Obama here in Japan, as his message “yes we can” gave a strong and positive image of him.
However, we did not buy Trump’s trash talk as most people believe his rough statements were just for the election and you can tell he definitely softened his speech after he got elected.
There is a high chance that his influence will be big on our military affairs though as he is asking us to pay more for the US military. I must say I am a bit worried about him forcing Japan to have the nuclear weapon.
The Japanese media were very critical of Trump and still are but they did not report that he wouldn’t win like I saw they did in the West. I think the polls got it wrong because there might have been hidden Trump’s voters who didn’t openly support him but actually voted for him and made the difference.”
Agnès is a 26-year-old sales assistant in central France who falls under the “hidden supporter” definition. She asked for her name to be changed, saying she was afraid of expressing her opinion publicly.
“I was surprised when I saw the outcome of the elections as the media were pushing for Clinton to win. Everyone was running around like headless chicken in the office without even trying to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.
Virtually all the people I know were so overreacting that I could not even speak my mind without being censored because I did not have the right to my own opinion. I just decided to stop talking about it not to be blacklisted by everyone else around.
I truly think that the media played a role in that mass hysteria by portraying Trump in a purely negative light. I even heard a French journalist briefly mention that universal suffrage should be put into question, which is ironic for a self-proclaimed safe keeper of democracy.
To be fair, I’m convinced that many people share my opinion but keep silent and it does not mean that we condone everything Trump has said, particularly not his most outrageous claims.
I personally thought that both candidates were terrible but Trump’s victory was the best option for my country, as it means a lesser risk of global conflict and a step back from another cold war with Russia. Trump appears as if he will be much more prone to an isolationist policy whereas we have all seen the impact of Clinton’s foreign policy in the Middle East.
Besides, Clinton was the face of the establishment and of Wall Street, funded by every lobby and that includes George Soros. I think all this explains why she failed instead of the fact that she was a woman. But it is always easier to think that all the people who voted against her were white racists and sexists.”
Martin, a 23-year-old interior designer who lives in Guanajuato, Mexico, doesn’t share this opinion as he received the news of Trump’s election with disbelief and shock.
“When I heard the news of Trump’s victory, I couldn’t believe that the people of America could have voted for a person such as him, full of hateful and discriminatory ideals.
Most people here in Mexico truly cannot understand what came across the mind of those who supported Donald Trump. They were outraged and speechless.
I feel particularly infuriated and even hurt by the terrible comments Trump made against us. Considering that Trump will be the influential leader of a massive and influential country like the United-States, he should never have resorted to the kind of segregating speech of hatred he used towards immigrants, and Mexicans especially.
I am really concerned over the future of our relations with the US and I worry that his presidency might have a disastrous effect on our shared economy and trade partnerships. To be honest, I always felt that Mexico was being disadvantaged and I think that our financial situation will only get worse in the years to come.
Under those circumstances, it is completely stupid to suggest we pay for a wall along the border. This money would be much better spent in building something useful, like hospitals or anything that might benefit to both countries.”
Andrea comes from Celaya, Mexico, but this 23-year-old is now working as a teacher in Japan. She too was outraged by the election of a Trump president she thinks will encourage discrimination against the US-based Mexican community.
“I was so disappointed when I saw that Trump had won. I realized how racist America is, which is terrible because I know so many nice people from there.
Here in Japan it seems that most people thought that both candidates were bad so they did not care about it that much but to me Trump was way worse than Hillary.
I have family in the States and they are numb, they can’t even speak. My Dad, who is American, is mad angry and even my young cousins are scared. It’s truly beyond me how people could vote for someone like Trump and even more how Latinos who live in the US could support someone who constantly belittled us.
I don’t know what will happen in the future but I don’t think the wall people talked so much about will ever be built. If that ever were to become a thing, California would start to claim its liberty as every State has its own rules. Their government actually mentioned it quite recently.
But Trump cannot be good news for Mexico, especially with a president such as ours that has been under scrutiny for so long and stirs controversy after controversy. He lost all his credibility when he invited Trump to Mexico and the latter made fun of him.
I thought he couldn’t do worse than that but now I’m really afraid president Peña Nieto will not be able to protect our best interests.”
Hamza, a student in his late twenties from Montréal, was born in Reunion island before travelling the world and becoming a Canadian citizen. He says the results of the American elections piqued his curiosity and left him excited for the future.
“When I saw that Trump was winning more States than Clinton, I knew he was about to win. I wouldn’t say that I was happy but I was intrigued by what would come next.
Many people I know have shared with me their apocalyptic views over Trump’s victory but as a student in political sciences I’m just excited about anything shaking the political sphere. To me, it was some kind of Brexit 2.0 and that should have been reason enough for the media to anticipate a potential Clinton defeat.
Somehow the media focused on Trump’s antics instead of trying to understand the issues at stake for the average man and woman on the street. They also decided of a narrative where Trump was the big bad, whose supporters were racist old rural chaps, while it seems they only wanted Clinton to win because of her symbol as the first woman president.
Of course his triumph has galvanized extreme right-wing parties in Europe though, with France Marine Le Pen being one of the first politicians to congratulate him. Trump’s election came as a proof that the media could get it wrong and that the working classes voting for such controversial figures were tired of being told how dumb and narrow-minded they were and just wanted to put the system down.
This is not saying that Trump’s victory hasn’t trivialized hate speech to some extent, leaving the door open for a lot of homophobic or racist outbursts, but even as a Muslim myself, I don’t see why I should feel offended by a foreign country’s internal affairs.
Besides, I think that Canada can highly benefit from this election as we will appear as a land of opportunity for Americans wishing to leave their country. We shouldn’t forget either that Trump is “merely” president and that his administration will belong to the GOP (Grand Old Party) so there shouldn’t be a real breakdown in relations between both countries. And as Michelle Obama has said: ‘When they go low, we go high.'”
* The opinions expressed in this article are the interviewee’s own and do not reflect every opinion in their country. The purpose of this article is to give a platform to people from all over the world, with diverging personal views, to try and get a broader understanding of how a controversial and very much talked about event such as the American elections can be perceived in different countries.