After days of shying away from comment on America’s presidential election, world leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel tendered congratulations Saturday to Joe Biden after Pennsylvania’s vote results made him the projected winner.
“The U.S. is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities from climate change to trade and security,” Johnson said in a statement issued by Downing Street.
The British leader also praised Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, for what he dubbed her “historic achievement.” Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, is the first woman of color on a U.S. national political ticket.
Midweek, Johnson avoided making any remarks on the election, sidestepping calls from Britain’s opposition parties to comment on President Donald Trump’s demand for vote counting to stop in several states.
“We don’t comment as the U.K. government on the democratic processes of our friends and allies,” he said.
Some Trump supporters expressed frustration with foreign leaders.
“These early calls by foreign leaders congratulating Biden are deliberate election interference,” tweeted Kyle Shideler, an analyst at the Center for Security Policy, a pro-Trump policy organization in Washington. “It is beyond inappropriate for these leaders to weigh in at this time.”
Among the first world leaders to react to Biden’s projected win was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying, “Canada and the United States enjoy an extraordinary relationship — one that is unique on the world stage. Our shared geography, common interests, deep personal connections, and strong economic ties make us close friends, partners, and allies.”
He added: “I look forward to working with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, their administration, and the United States Congress as we tackle the world’s greatest challenges together.”
Germany’s Merkel said she was looking forward to “future cooperation” between the two countries, adding: “Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we are to master the great challenges of our time.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and French President Emmanuel Macron also offered congratulations.
Macron said: “We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together.”
Sanchez added: “We are looking forward to cooperating with you to tackle the challenges ahead of us.”
Some foreign leaders have so far withheld their congratulations.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Saturday he wanted to wait until all legal challenges are decided. “With regard to the U.S. election, we are going to wait until all the legal matters have been resolved,” he said at a news conference.
Saudi Arabia has also offered no congratulations. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has likewise remained silent on the election.
Governments across the world have been anxiously waiting to see whether Republican Donald Trump would secure a second term, or they would be dealing for the next four years with his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Biden.
Most foreign leaders were careful not to express a preference, fearful of alienating the eventual winner. Even national leaders most closely associated with Trump, such as Netanyahu and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, were restrained in their praise of him.
Hungary’s firebrand populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban was one of the few leaders to back Trump publicly, as he did in 2016, announcing in an article in a Hungarian newspaper in September that he was “rooting for another victory for Donald Trump because we are very familiar with the foreign policy of U.S. Democratic administrations, built as it is on moral imperialism. We have tasted it — albeit under duress. We didn’t like it and we don’t want a second helping.”
Other conservative nationalist leaders in central Europe were quieter, including Poland’s President Andrzej Duda.
Anxiety had only mounted since Election Day, with international allies fearful that America was heading for a contested election that could last for weeks or months.
Officials in several European countries said they did not want to say anything they might later have to retract, as some governments did amid the confusion of the contested U.S. election in 2000. Among others, the German president initially congratulated candidate George W. Bush, only to have to withdraw his remarks as the world waited for five weeks and a Supreme Court ruling to finally conclude the election.
But the congratulatory messages to Biden by several leaders Saturday suggested America’s allies have decided the result is a foregone conclusion — despite Trump’s decision not to concede and his determination to mount legal challenges.
That includes Poland, one of the U.S.’s closest allies under the Trump administration. Duda said Saturday that his country was determined to maintain a “high-level, high-quality … partnership” during a Biden administration.
Messages of congratulation also came Saturday from the leaders in the Netherlands, Qatar, Egypt, Ukraine, Lebanon, Norway and Greece.
Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheal Martin, said: “Ireland takes pride in Joe Biden’s election, just as we are proud of all the generations of Irish women and Irish men and their ancestors whose toil and genius have enriched the diversity that powers America.”
Biden traces his ancestry to Ireland and England.
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