Donald Trump’s election success set off a wave of one-line headlines around the world. Australia’s Daily Telegraph asked “W.T.F.” (which they claimed stood for “WILL TRUMP FLOURISH … or fail?”), and fellow Aussie the Newcastle Herald printed a plaintive “HELP,” while Mexico’s El Gráfico expressed the feelings of millions with its no-holds-barred “FUUUCK!” For its Thursday edition, France’s Libération had a menacing photo of Trump on the cover, with the headline “American Psycho.” Meanwhile, Scotland’s Buchan Observer, based in a spot where Trump owns a golf course, went with something more low-key: “Aberdeenshire Business Owner Wins Presidential Election.”
Newspapers around the world saw Trump’s victory as a setback for the cause of free and fair elections. His win is “a source of satisfaction and opportunity for the enemies of democracy,” declared Spain’s El País on Wednesday morning. “The U.S. electorate has shown that no society, no matter how prosperous or how much democratic tradition it has behind it, is immune to a demagogue who offers quick and simple solutions to complicated problems.” In France, Libération’s Johan Hufnagel (formerly of Slate.fr) wrote, “Half of America voted for a racist, lying, vulgar, hateful candidate. … Our unstable world didn’t need such a free election.” The more moderate Le Monde agreed: Its editorial was headlined, “Anger Won.”
While Britain’s Guardian called Nov. 8 “a dark day for the world,” Canada’s Globe & Mail was more polite: “There is no way to mince words about the result. Donald Trump … is not the ideal candidate for the job,” its editorial said through a mouth full of meal. Toronto broadsheet the Star saw things a little differently, “Never before have American voters, in their wisdom, produced a result so likely to end in disaster.”*
Along with endless comparisons to Brexit came many warnings that further tears in the fabric of liberal democracy are on the horizon—several papers saw Trump’s win as evidence that xenophobic politician Marine Le Pen will thrive in next year’s French presidential election. South Africa’s Mail & Guardian saw Trump’s victory as good news for populists in France, Hungary, and the Netherlands. “The result will be lamented by liberals across America and beyond,” observed the Guardian. “But it will be cheered in Moscow and Damascus, which will feel emboldened. This is not a good week to be a Latvian or a Ukrainian, and another dire one to be a Syrian oppositionist.”
In the Moscow Times, an English-language paper targeted at expatriates, Mikhail Fishman wrote that Trump’s victory had closed off a path to reform in Russia, since the global uncertainty triggered by his election will benefit President Putin: “This new Trumpworld is a global mess, and taking advantage of the disorder looks much more rational as a strategy. An outcast yesterday, Vladimir Putin might even start seeing himself as the first among equals on the global scene. If he ever had doubts about running for another presidential term, now he will not hesitate.”
*Correction, Nov. 10, 2016: This piece originally called the broadsheet Toronto Star a tabloid.