Flemish politicians and experts respond to American election results

Summary

With the biggest voter turnout in history, the people of the US elected democrat Joe Biden as their next president

‘The US can count on Belgium’

“Congratulations Joe Biden with your election as 46th president of the United States,” tweeted Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) after the US election results were determined on Saturday. “A record number of people have cast their vote in this election. This illustrates the vibrancy of the American political life and its democracy.”

De Croo hopes to meet president-elect Biden soon, he said further in a statement. “The US can count on Belgium as a constructive partner and long-time ally, promoting consensus and committed to peace.”

In his previous role as federal minister of development co-operation, De Croo placed a great deal of emphasis on the rights of women in the world, including authoring the book The Age of Women: Why Feminism Also Liberates Men. Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris promises to be “an important role model for young girls across the world by showing them that girls and boys have the same rights and chances”.

The relief that Americans – and also the rest of the world – are feeling is palpable

- Governor Cathy Berx

He later told VRT, that it was “about time” that the US put a woman in the White House. “For a country as diverse as the US, I say: finally.”

Bart De Wever, mayor of Flanders’ biggest city, also wished Biden success, though of a more tempered nature. “The reality is that we have to co-operate with any US president,” he told Gazet van Antwerpen. “He is at the head of the world’s biggest economy and the leading figure of the free western world. A good relationship with America is, therefore, of the utmost importance for our port, petrochemicals and creative sector.”

Antwerp’s provincial governor, meanwhile, who has been praised her leadership during the coronavirus crisis, told the paper that she was “deeply moved” by the acceptance speeches delivered by both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. “The call for unity and thoughtful words about the corona pandemic are very encouraging,” said Cathy Berx. “The relief that Americans – and also the rest of the world – are feeling is palpable. Harris as vice-president is of incredible importance for women and for women with a migration background.”

The question is if he will ever be able to rise above the status of a transitional president

- Professor Bart Kerremans

According to KU Leuven professor of American politics Bart Kerremans Trump was “a danger to democracy in the US, so it’s a good thing he’s going. In another system, he would simply have become a dictator.”

Speaking to VRT, Kerremans also said that Biden’s job will not be easy and that his entire term in office could be spent undoing the damage of the last four years. “The question is if he will ever be able to rise above the status of a transitional president. Everyone is going to see him this way.”

Trump’s promised legal fight against the election outcome is a “paradox,” says Kerremans. “The more difficult he makes it, the better it is for the legitimate result. It’s no bad thing to ask for a recount. It will indeed confirm that Joe Biden won the election, however close it was.”

Photo ©Jim Bourg/REUTERS