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Implications of US Elections 2016: Talking about The Donald

The rise of Donald Trump certainly is the biggest surprises of the current presidential primary race in the United States. But what would a Donald Trump presidency actually mean for Europe and the rest of the world? At the Dahrendorf Symposium in Berlin, Europe and North America Working Group, headed by Peter Trubowitz, discussed a scenario that has long been considered impossible.

On the panel – consisting of Peter Trubowitz (Professor for International Relations at London School of Economics), James Morrison (LSE), Lloyd Gruber (LSE), Rosemary Foot (University of Oxford), Mareike Kleine (LSE) and Jeremy Shapiro (European Council on Foreign Relations) – one word keeps popping up regarding a possible future presidency of Republican candidate Donald Trump: unpredictability. Whether it is a redistribution of burden-sharing among NATO partners, a retraction of the US from providing military security for allies in Asia and Europe, or a trade war with China, nothing seems impossible with Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

“America First.” Trump’s message in his first substantial speech on foreign policy in April 2016 hardly bears any insight into how a Trump Administration would handle international affairs in detail. But the isolationist tone of the Republican candidate’s stance on foreign policy and trade certainly rings alarm bells all over the globe. “If Trump wins, all bets are off,” Rosemary Foot of University of Oxford concluded.

Anyway, it seems questionable that Foreign policy will be the decisive  factor in the election in fall after all. The election in fall will  be about war, sex and work, Peter Trubowitz said. Lloyd Gruber,  Assistant Professor in Political Economy of Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, explained the success of  Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in a different way: People are  looking for a candidate who inspires Confidence with a simple message.  In that regard, Gruber described Hillary Clinton as a flawed candidate. Rosemary Foot and James Morrison of LSE added that both Trump as well as Sanders are fueled by supporters who consider themselves as losers of globalization and are highly influenced by partisan information sources as well as social-media channels.

Peter Trubowitz concluded that Donald Trump’s only vulnerability is his “temperament.” If the Clinton campaign succeeds in painting the billionaire-turned-presidential-nominee as a loose cannon – a risky choice for American voters – the Democrats may be able to stop Trump’s momentum ahead of the general election in November 2016.

Lloyd Gruber predicted that in the end, Hillary Clinton will win the general election, because Trump has alienated and offended too many groups in the process of his campaign. However, as Gruber admitted, “political scientists have been wrong about this election every step of the way.”

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About the author: Marcel Wollscheid is the Editor-in-Chief of

The opinions expressed in this blog contribution are entirely those of the author and do not represent the positions of the Dahrendorf Forum or its hosts Hertie School and London School of Economics or its funder Stiftung Mercator.