Biden within touching distance of US presidency

Victory is within Joe Biden’s grasp. But until every vote is counted, no one wants to jump the gun, especially in the shadow of 2016’s eleventh-hour turnaround in Donald Trump’s fortunes.

By Lorna Hutchinson

Lorna Hutchinson is Deputy Editor of The Parliament Magazine

05 Nov 2020

As things stand, Joe Biden has 264 electoral votes, just 6 votes shy of the 270 needed to clinch the presidency. Incumbent Donald Trump has 214.

If Biden wins any of the four key states that remain too close to call - Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina - he will become the next US President.

This election has been historic in many ways. Biden has become the presidential candidate to receive the most ever votes in US election history, with 71 million votes and counting.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic this election is also the most protracted, with an unprecedented number of voters opting for mail-in ballots, which take much longer to process.

Though election day itself came and went with minimal disruptions, previous fears of civil unrest have started to materialise, with Trump supporters staging protests outside some election centres – some of them armed with guns.

Depending on the state and Trump’s current vote tally there, supporters were either demanding that the vote count be stopped - in Michigan, for example - or chanting “count the votes”, as was the case in Arizona where Trump was considered to be catching up with Biden.

German Greens/EFA deputy Terry Reintke said, “Ballot counters have to watch their backs when leaving the counting stations. This is where you end up when you have a man in power spreading his toxic lies and hatred for years and years.”

“Today, the Trump Administration officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it” Joe Biden

Joe Biden, for his part, has remained calm and collected throughout. In a speech, Biden said, “Now, every vote must be counted. No one’s going to take our democracy away from us – not now, not ever … We the people will not be silenced. We the people will not be bullied. We the people will not surrender. My friends, I’m confident we’ll emerge victorious, but this will not be my victory alone or our victory alone. It’ll be a victory for the American people, for democracy, for America.”

Dutch EPP deputy Esther De Lange said, “What a difference in tone …  every vote must be counted if you want to be a President for all Americans. With Trump it remained ‘us’ against ‘them’.”

For many though, one of Trump’s most egregious moves has been to drag America out of the Paris Climate Accord, at a time when the global fight against climate change needs to significantly ramp up in order to avoid catastrophic consequences.

On Wednesday, Biden tweeted, “Today, the Trump Administration officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it.”

Irish EPP deputy Seán Kelly MEP called this news “very encouraging,” adding, “In 2015 I was proud to lead discussions in the European Parliament ahead of the Paris Agreement and represent the Parliament at COP21 in Paris, COP22 in Marrakesh and COP24 in Katowice. I was disappointed when POTUS announced the US would leave the agreement.”

Kelly also tweeted, “So it’s almost certain that tomorrow Joe Biden will be able to say to Donald Trump ‘Bye den Donald’, as Joe heads for the White House. Still, credit where credit is due: Trump, against all predictions, almost had a triumphant US election.”

“Ballot counters have to watch their backs when leaving the counting stations. This is where you end up when you have a man in power spreading his toxic lies and hatred for years and years” Terry Reintke, Greens/EFA

Kelly was not alone in his sentiments; by late Wednesday and early Thursday, many MEPs were daring to get excited about the prospect of a Biden presidency, which promises to deliver a substantially better EU-US relationship than the past four years have seen.

Dutch S&D member Kati Piri said she was “optimistic that Trump is history and the long nightmare comes to an end.”

Irish GUE/NGL MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan said simply, “Trump is toast.”

Greens/EFA member Alexandra Geese said that one of the many disturbing things about the US election was news outlet CNN’s “need to keep repeating that counting the votes is legit.”

“What happened to US democracy for people to think it isn’t?” she asked.

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