Trump prematurely claims victory as world waits nervously, impatiently for U.S. vote count

A TV screen shows images of U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during a news program, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)A TV screen shows images of U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during a news program, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A man wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus reads the headlines about the U.S. presidential elections at a newspapers stand in Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. The world is watching as millions of Americans cast their ballots for the next president on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)A man wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus reads the headlines about the U.S. presidential elections at a newspapers stand in Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. The world is watching as millions of Americans cast their ballots for the next president on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives with his wife Jill Biden to speak to supporters Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives with his wife Jill Biden to speak to supporters Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

From Ford Model T cars that popped off the assembly line in just 90 minutes to 60-second service for burgers, the United States has had a major hand in making the world a frenetic and impatient place, primed and hungry for instant gratification.

So waking up to the news Wednesday that the winner of the U.S. election might not be known for hours, days or longer — pundits filled global airwaves with their best bets — was jarring for a planet weaned on that most American of exports: speed.

In the absence of an immediate winner between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden, the guessing game of trying to figure out which of them would end up in the White House, and how, quickly turned global. Government leaders scrambled to digest the delay and ordinary people swapped views, hopes and fears on feeds and phones.

“I’m hearing it may take some time before things are sorted out,” said the finance minister of Japan, Taro Aso. “I have no idea how it may affect us.”

In Paris, a Spanish resident, Javier Saenz, was stunned to wake up without a declared winner.

WATCH: Trump wins Florida, locked in other tight races with Biden

“I thought there was going to be something clear. And I have read different articles, no one really knows who is going to win,” he said. “I am very shocked by that.”

But the lack of result was not that surprising to experts — and not, in an of itself, an indication that anything was wrong. In a year turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, many states made it easier to vote by mail. That meant a slowdown in compiling results because postal ballots mail often take longer to process than those cast at polling places.

Still, the unease of not knowing was mixing with sharpening concerns about how America might heal after the divisive election and anxieties fueled by Trump’s own extraordinary and premature claims of victory and his threat to take the election to the Supreme Court to stop counting.

From Europe, in particular, came appeals for patience and a complete tally of votes. In Slovenia, the birthplace of first lady Melania Trump, the right-wing prime minister, Janez Jansa, claimed it was “pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump,” but he was a lonely voice among leaders in jumping ahead of any firm outcome.

The German vice chancellor, Olaf Scholz, insisted on a complete tally, saying: “It is important for us that everything be counted and in the end we have a clear result.”

The main industry lobbying group in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, warned that business confidence could be damaged by sustained uncertainty. And the German defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said that “the battle over the legitimacy of the result — whatever it will look like — has now begun.”

“This is a very explosive situation. It is a situation of which experts rightly say it could lead to a constitutional crisis in the U.S.,” she said on ZDF television. “That is something that must certainly worry us very much.”

In financial markets, investors struggled to make sense of it all, sending some indexes up and others down.

In the vacuum of no immediate winner, there was some gloating from Russia, Africa and other parts of the world that have repeatedly been on the receiving end of U.S. criticism, with claims that the election and the vote count were exposing the imperfections of American democracy.

“Africa used to learn American democracy, America is now learning African democracy,” tweeted Nigerian Sen. Shehu Sani, reflecting a common view from some on a continent long used to troubled elections and U.S. criticism of them.

In Zimbabwe, the ruling ZANU-PF party’s spokesman, Patrick Chinamasa, said: “We have nothing to learn about democracy from former slave owners.”

Traditional U.S. allies clung to the belief that regardless of whether Trump or Biden emerged as the winner, the fundamentals that have long underpinned some of America’s key relationships would survive the uncertainty and the U.S. electoral process.

“Whatever the result of the election, they will remain our allies for many years and decades, that is certain,” said Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for the internal market.

That idea was echoed by the Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, who told a parliamentary session that “the Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation of Japanese diplomacy, and on that premise I will develop solid relationship with a new president.”

John Leicester, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpJoe BidenU.S. election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where one employee is still currently isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was first declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
54 positive COVID-19 cases associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

There’s been a two-person increase in positive cases since Tuesday (Dec. 1)

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure at The Key, weather shelter announced in Fort St. James

Northern Health made the public service announcement Dec. 1

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read