One week since the election of Donald Trump: What are commentators saying?

US President-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on Nov 9, 2016.
US President-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on Nov 9, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

The election of political outsider Donald Trump as the next US president last Wednesday (Nov 9) was seen as a stunning upset over rival, former secretary of state and former first lady Hillary Clinton.

It put paid to the Clinton machinery's best laid plans to reach the White House.

There were reactions, in the United States and outside, among the elite and on the streets, in the markets and in our very own region of Asia and South-east Asia, where concerns of how Mr Trump will engage with the region are paramount.

Here is a selection of commentaries and analyses published in The Straits Times and elsewhere over the last week since Mr Trump's victory, that discuss his incredible rise, look at the global implications of his possible policies based on his campaign rhetoric, and try to make sense of what happened in the US presidential election.

Results day: Nov 9

Shock result in US presidential election: Trump triumph a sign of the times

By Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor (Global Affairs)

Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov 9, 2016 in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

The incredible victory that Mr Trump scored to take the presidency owes as much to the anti-globalisation move sweeping the world as White America's deep-seated fears of the "other".

Between 1980 and 2010, the proportion of non-Hispanic whites in America dropped about 17 percentage points to a tad over 63 per cent.

It also is clear that having smashed one glass ceiling by electing a black as president, America is not ready yet to break a second - to elect its first woman commander-in-chief. Indeed, Mrs Clinton did not get the women turnout many had expected, partly because many of her gender blame her for tolerating her husband's marital infidelities.

Read more here.

US presidential election: How did the polls get it so wrong?

By Jeremy Au Yong, US bureau chief

Several theories abound as to why the pollsters got it wrong, and given the magnitude of Mr Trump's successes, it may well be that all explanations are true.

The first theory, and one that Trump supporters had put forward for months, was that voters simply weren't admitting to pollsters that they were voting for Mr Trump. A second theory is that polls somehow misread the likelihood that certain type of voters would indeed show up at the polls.

A third explanation is that too many shocks happened too late in the cycle to have been accurately captured in the polls. One final possibility is that the difficult to reach districts in the Midwest meant they were not sufficiently polled.

Read more here.

After Trump victory, uncertainty in Asia. If America retreats, will it be China to the fore?

By Derwin Pereira, founder of Pereira International

Trump's shock victory in the American presidential election will unnerve Asians who believe that their future lies with the United States in the long term. What lurks ahead are at least four years of uncertainty and possible brinkmanship in American-Asian relations.

Asian fears of the Trump ascendancy are not without basis. He is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a gold-standard trade agreement seven of whose 12 members are from the Asia-Pacific: Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

America's refusal to ratify the deal would effectively sound its death-knell.

Read more here.

Day 1: Nov 10

Asia on edge over how Donald Trump will act in office

By Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor (Global Affairs)

Asians who listened to Trump's victory speech will take comfort from his vow to rebuild America, "get along with all other nations willing to get along with us" and double the growth rate of an economy that is still considered the market of last resort.

Beyond that, for now at least, a Trump presidency looks like a stare into the deep unknown at a time when everyone from Tokyo to Islamabad would have wished for a familiar figure to occupy the White House.

Read more here.

The science behind the rise of Donald Trump

By Pascal Molenberghs,  Monash University, Australia.

People around the world are stunned at the rise of Trump - from complete outsider to Republican nominee for the US presidential election.

At the start of campaigning for the nomination, almost nobody gave Mr Trump a chance. One article even suggested he had a better chance of playing in the NBA finals than of winning the party's nomination. Now, he will become president of the United States.

Commentators and analysts have offered many reasons for how the outspoken billionaire has come so far, but what insights can scientific research provide? And what can it suggest for how the US can move beyond the polarisation caused by this highly divisive election campaign.

Read more here.

The most stunning revolt in America's history

By Robert Shrimsley, The Financial Times

America has its Brexit. The only difference is that this time there is no part of the world that can dismiss this as a local European difficulty.

After this, the free-market, open, globalist-minded world can only sit back and wonder where the next domino will fall. Maybe France. Is anyone now confident that Ms Marine Le Pen cannot win the presidency next year? Whatever comes next cannot reverberate as much as Mr Donald Trump's improbable victory.

But it is now beyond doubt that we are seeing a revolt against the political and economic order that has governed the Western world for decades. The market reaction made clear that investors see this result in those terms.

Read more here.

Day 2: Nov 11

US election: America's divide runs far deeper this time

By Jeremy Au Yong, US bureau chief

Thousands of protesters blocked roads, burned effigies and chanted "not my president" in cities across the United States, as it quickly became clear that healing will not come easily to a nation torn apart by the divisive presidential campaign.

In New York, thousands of protesters shut down the busy Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower for hours on Wednesday night - many expressing anxiety about what was to come and disappointment that so many of their fellow citizens had voted for a man they consider unfit for the job.

And while the country has always been able to reunite after divisive periods in its history, observers say there is something fundamentally different about the political earthquake that struck on Nov 8.

Read more here.

Trump's choice on China: confront or cooperate

By Minghao Zhao, Charhar Institute in Beijing

Mr Trump's shocking victory in the US presidential election has upended all of the certainties that have shaped not only American politics, but also how the world thinks about the United States. Mr Trump must now confront the nitty-gritty of managing America's international relationships, and arguably none is more important for the world than that between the US and China. But it is also the relationship that was put in the most doubt by the tenor of Mr Trump's campaign.

The president-elect could complicate bilateral relations, particularly given that his first year in office will coincide with the Chinese Communist Party's 19th National Congress next autumn. In an ideal world, both Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping should want to keep US-China relations stable. But this will prove difficult, given not only Mr Trump's Sinophobic rhetoric, but also ongoing disagreements about Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Moreover, US-China relations could fall victim to US domestic disputes about global trade, the value of the dollar, and protectionism.

Read more here.

Trump and the dangers of America First

By Gideon Rachman, The Financial Times

It is symbolic and poignant that the election of Mr Trump was confirmed on the morning of Nov 9, 27 years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

That was a moment of triumph for United States leadership - and ushered in a period of optimism and expansion for liberal and democratic ideas around the world. That era has been definitively ended by Mr Trump's victory.

The electoral triumph of a race-baiting demagogue represents a profound blow to the prestige of US democracy - and thus to the cause of democracy around the world, which America has championed, on and off, since 1945.

Read more here.

Global politics: brace for seismic shift

By Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group

Protesters in the US calling for the rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in October last year. PHOTO: AFP

It's done. Mr Trump is now officially on track to become, at least on paper, the most powerful person in the world. That has plenty of people worried, both at home and abroad.

It's no secret that the vast array of challenges awaiting the new president is formidable. By any measure, Mr Trump will be the most unpopular person ever elected US president. Rather than trying to reach out to those Americans who viscerally dislike him, he doubled down on the white, disenfranchised vote that got him the Republican nomination in the first place and rode their support to the White House.

For the next four years, Mr Trump will be hounded by people who find his mere presence in the Oval Office anathema to what they believe America stands for. To be fair, Mrs Clinton would be facing a similarly divided and impassioned electorate, perhaps without a sympathetic Congress backing her.

Read more here.

Day 3: Nov 12

Donald Trump presidency: Memo from an old friend of the US

By Tommy Koh, former Singapore Ambassador to the US 

Mr Trump with his wife, Melania, at Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, along with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. PHOTO: NYTIMES

The relationship between America and Asia is particularly important because Asia is rising and some in America may perceive the rise of China as a threat to American prosperity and security.

The country in Asia that needs your reassurance the most is Japan. The Japanese are nervous about your attitude towards the US-Japan security alliance. They are worried about the reliability of the US nuclear umbrella. The trust of the Japanese government and people in the US is at stake.

Another country in Asia that needs your urgent attention is China. In the course of the campaign, you said some unkind things about China. You threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and impose tariffs on Chinese exports to the US. As a friend of both the US and China, I would like to say that you should not regard China as an enemy of the US. The truth is that you are dependent on each other.

Read more here.

New age of anxiety as Trump strikes security, trade deals

By Danny Quah and James Crabtree, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy 

Mr Trump's philosophy is no secret. "I like making deals, preferably big deals," he wrote in his autobiography. "That's how I get my kicks."

His approach to Asia will be much the same.

When he takes office as the 45th president of the United States, having won a stunning victory in the Nov 8 election, Mr Trump will hunt for deals, especially with major powers. The result will be a new age of brinkmanship and anxiety for smaller- and mid-sized Asian nations, in which growth from trade and globalisation is the ultimate loser.

Read more here.

Day 4: Nov 13

Feeling homeless in one's own country

By Lydia Lim, Associate Opinion Editor

The results of the recent United States presidential election have focused attention as never before on non-college-educated, white Americans. This is the group, so election data found, that did the most to propel Mr Trump to a win which stunned the rest of America and indeed the world.

I know almost nothing about the lives of American heartlanders but, during the 2006 mid-term elections, I had an encounter with a group of Republican Party members in the state of Ohio that remains etched in my memory.

Read more here.

Day 5: Nov 14

Europe's leaders must swallow their disdain and engage Trump

By Jonathan Eyal, Europe Correspondent


European leaders have rushed to congratulate Mr Trump on his victory in the United States presidential election. But behind reassuring pledges that the Europe and the US "will remain strong and close partners on trade, security and defence" - as British Prime Minister Theresa May put it - Europeans remain in a state of deep shock by the turn of events and deeply apprehensive about a future they no longer understand or are able to predict.

The current front cover of Der Spiegel, Germany's top weekly news magazine, sums up the continent's mood in one sentence: "The end of the world as we know it", it proclaims.

It is commonplace now to regard Europe as yesterday's story, as an old continent in permanent decline. But at least when it comes to relations with the US, that's simply not true.

In short, the transatlantic link between Europe and the US is not just another of the world's variable geometry partnership arrangements; despite the rise of Asia, it remains the single most important economic and security pillar in today's world.

Read more here.

Day 6: Nov 15

A divided America: Good or bad for the world?

By Han Fook Kwang, Editor At Large

An anti-Trump demonstrator holds a sign in front of a Trump supporter during a protest near City Hall in Los Angeles last Saturday. America has to put its house in order first. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

President Donald J. Trump - not many outside the United States thought they would be uttering those words. Indeed, the shock from his stunning victory is probably greater in the rest of the world than it is in America.

After all, almost half of Americans voted for him. They wanted him to be their president because they wanted America to change. According to election analyses, his support was strongest among non-college educated white men and women who had fallen behind economically and felt the country's political and business elites were not paying enough attention to their concerns and working in their interests - the forgotten people in President-elect Trump's words.

He succeeded in tapping this groundswell of resentment which played up in many issues - globalisation, America's free trade agreements and immigration. Some commentators have said this election signalled the end of the neoliberal idea that countries serve the interest of their citizens best when they are open to the world, trading freely and with open borders that encourage the movement of people, goods and services. A Trump America would be nationalist and protectionist first.

Read more here.

Why Michigan swung in Trump's favour

Linda Lim, University of Michigan

Mr Donald Trump's surprise win of the US presidential election is causing much re-examination of pre-election analyses, the dominant theme of which was that his supporters are primarily non- college educated white working- class voters aggrieved at being "left behind" by globalisation.

On the Trump campaign trail, international trade competition, allegedly the result of "unfair trade deals" like Nafta and "currency manipulation" by China, was blamed for the loss of manufacturing jobs and industries like steel in the Mid-western "Rust Belt", especially in "swing states" like Ohio and Pennsylvania, and reliably Republican Indiana - all of which he won, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin.

But the size and sweep of Mr Trump's electoral college victory (despite losing the popular vote to Mrs Hillary Clinton) indicate that his appeal cannot be limited to this relatively small group, particularly at a time when the US economy is doing fairly well, unemployment is low, and wages have been rising, including in these states.

Read more here.

Day 7: Nov 16

Trump's tough talk on trade and what it spells for Singapore

By Lee Su Shyan, Business Editor


Asian markets have declined by 3.6 per cent since Nov 8, when the United States Republican candidate Donald Trump won the election. The Singapore market recovered on Tuesday (Nov 15) and is marginally higher than after the election result was out. The Singdollar has also shed some 1.5 per cent but is slightly off its 11-month low.

After the Nov 4, 2008, election, the Singapore market rose before falling back.

What's driving their reaction? Markets are skittish largely due to uncertainty over the policies that the incoming Trump administration will introduce. However, it is early days and some are optimistic that the realities of day-to-day government will mean that too-extreme policies will not be introduced.

Read more here.