US election 2024: Why the world is watching so closely

US election 2024: Why the world is watching so closely

The first votes in the US presidential race will be cast on Monday in the state of Iowa when Republicans choose who they want to take on Democratic President Joe Biden. It’s an election being watched not just in the US but around the world.

After recently spending a few weeks in Europe, the subject of America’s presidential election was a constant topic of intense curiosity and concern among the people I spoke to. And no wonder.

The US is currently involved in two hot wars, Ukraine and Gaza. Meanwhile, US-China relations have deteriorated and tensions in the Asia Pacific region have risen.

Closer to home, Central American nations are under the spotlight as a growing number of migrants are trying to get to the US through a border which seems more porous by the day. And this week there were US-led air strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

There is almost no area of the world where American leadership doesn’t matter.

The prospect of Republican Donald Trump returning to office, with his America First foreign policy agenda, adds more uncertainty to an already tumultuous picture.

Some countries look forward to his return. But many of America’s allies are more fearful about the possible comeback of an unorthodox president they found hard to deal with the first time around.

Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and is also co-chair of President Biden’s re-election campaign, told me that in every meeting he’s had with foreign leaders or foreign secretaries, at some point they raise the question of whether American voters could really turn once more to President Donald Trump.

So, while this may be a US election, other countries are deeply invested in the result.

In no capital in the world are they watching this campaign as closely as they are in Kyiv. The fate of the war arguably depends on the outcome.

“If the policy of the next president – whoever he is – will be different toward Ukraine, colder or more inward-oriented… then I think these signals will greatly affect the course of the war,” President Volodymr Zelensky said recently.

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