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

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

File photo
Castlegar sees spike in crime over winter

Local RCMP report increase in calls

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Jesse Teindl (left) is grateful for support in his fundraiser for research of a genetic disease that prematurely claimed the lives of his father Tim (right) and uncle Craig Teindl. Photo: Submitted.
Kootenay community steps up for Skinny Genes fundraiser

Fundraiser auction for rare genetic disease raises more than $10,000 for Skinny Genes Foundation

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

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

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Most Read