The head of an international observer mission to the US elections accused Donald Trump on Thursday of a “gross abuse of office” after the president alleged he was being cheated and demanded that vote counting be halted.
“The most disturbing thing was that with presidential fanfare of the White House, that is, with all the insignia of power, the American commander-in-chief called for an end to the count because of his purported victory,” Michael Link from the told the German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.
“That was a gross abuse of office,” he said, adding that Trump’s “claims of manipulation are baseless”.
Link, who works for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, warned that Trump’s repeated false allegations of fraud could have far-reaching consequences.
“The major concern is that the US will not be able put back into the bottle the genie that Trump has let out.
“Even if he were to admit defeat and hand over office properly, his supporters, incited by rhetoric, may see violence as a legitimate tool because they no longer feel democratically represented,” said Link.
And that is “a danger that goes far beyond election day,” added the mission chief of the OSCE, which monitors elections throughout Western nations and the former Soviet Union.
On Wednesday, the mission already released a statement saying that there was no basis to Trump’s claims of cheating, and that Tuesday’s vote was “competitive and well managed.”
Trump, 74, has claimed victory unilaterally before counting in key battleground states has concluded.
He has also made clear he would not accept the reported results, issuing unprecedented complaints — unsupported by any evidence — of fraud.
How the world has reacted to US vote
From warnings to good wishes and mockery, governments around the world have reacted very differently to the hotly-contested US election race between US President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden as votes continue to be counted.
– Russian red rag? –
“Everything that concerns our country is seen in the United States like a red rag to a bull,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters on Thursday. “That’s why we won’t make any comment. Americans probably need to put some order in their own affairs themselves.”
He added, however, that the uncertainty linked to the election results in the world’s biggest economy “could potentially have negative consequences for the world, above all for the global economy”.
– Iranian irony –
“What a spectacle!” Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted Wednesday. “One says this is the most fraudulent election in US history. Who says that? The president who is currently in office.”
– Brazilian bias –
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he hoped Trump would win.
The far-right leader, who has been dubbed a “Tropical Trump,” has cultivated a close relationship with the Republican president.
“You know where I stand, I’ve been clear. I have a good relationship with Trump. I hope he’ll be reelected,” Bolsonaro told supporters on Wednesday.
– Balanced Britain –
Britain insisted its close partnership with the United States was in safe hands whoever came out on top — Trump or Democrat challenger Biden.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a populist ally of Trump, refused to be drawn in parliament when grilled about the Republican’s premature claim of victory.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I’m not worried about the relationship.”
– EU worries –
Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya underlined the importance of respecting institutions.
“There are many populists who don’t like institutions,” she said Thursday. “I’m not speaking here about the United States, but populists in general around the world. That’s why it is so important to protect our institutions… because ultimately they are the guarantors of our democracy.”
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Wednesday the United States was facing a “very explosive situation” and a possible systemic crisis.
– French agenda –
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reinforced recent statements from Paris that the nature of US-EU relations had permanently changed under Trump.
Europe needs to build a “new transatlantic relationship, which is a new partnership” irrespective of who wins, he said Thursday.
France under President Emmanuel Macron is keen for Europe to move away from its reliance on American military might for defence in particular.
– Melania admirer –
Ignoring the caution of his EU colleagues, the prime minister of Melania Trump’s homeland — Slovenia — went out on a limb Wednesday to congratulate Trump for winning re-election.
“It’s pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence for four more years,” Janez Jansa wrote on Twitter.
Jansa, along with Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban, was one of the few EU leaders to endorse Trump’s candidacy, and said Biden would be “one of the weakest US presidents in history”.