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The Biden challenge in foreign policy [What Think Tanks are thinking]

12-03-2021

Nearly two months ago, on 20 January, Joseph Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, at the end of perhaps the most divisive electoral processes in his country's history. The new President's supporters and advocates, including many in Europe, are counting on him to set a new course for the US in global politics, moving to firm up and advance the multilateral, rules-based world order and rekindle America's traditional alliances, notably within the NATO framework. Very high hopes ...

Nearly two months ago, on 20 January, Joseph Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, at the end of perhaps the most divisive electoral processes in his country's history. The new President's supporters and advocates, including many in Europe, are counting on him to set a new course for the US in global politics, moving to firm up and advance the multilateral, rules-based world order and rekindle America's traditional alliances, notably within the NATO framework. Very high hopes and expectations have been raised about the potential of Washington to make a decisive shift from the assumptions and actions of Trump years. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on President Biden's early weeks in office and the various expectations regarding his presidency, especially in respect of the place of the United States in the world.

Taiwan in 2020 and beyond

24-02-2021

The Taiwanese went to the polls in early 2020 and overwhelmingly elected President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for a second term, while navigating pervasive disinformation and influence operations and closely watching events in Hong Kong. The Covid-19 pandemic was an opportunity for Taiwan to leverage its robust virus containment policy for global outreach. The self-ruled democratic island somewhat reduced its economic overreliance on mainland China through diversification ...

The Taiwanese went to the polls in early 2020 and overwhelmingly elected President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for a second term, while navigating pervasive disinformation and influence operations and closely watching events in Hong Kong. The Covid-19 pandemic was an opportunity for Taiwan to leverage its robust virus containment policy for global outreach. The self-ruled democratic island somewhat reduced its economic overreliance on mainland China through diversification and relocation strategies. Taiwan witnessed a spike in military incursions into its airspace and waters by mainland China's air and naval forces. Key issues to watch are the impact of the strategic rivalry between the US and China on Taiwan's economy and the future of US strategic ambiguity as a deterrent against a potential hostile invasion of the island. This is an update of the 2019 EPRS briefing Taiwan's political survival in a challenging geopolitical context, PE 635.606.

Trump's disinformation 'magaphone': Consequences, first lessons and outlook

02-02-2021

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 was a significant cautionary example of the offline effects of online disinformation and conspiracy theories. The historic democratic crisis this has sparked − adding to a number of other historic crises the US is currently battling − provides valuable lessons not only for the United States, but also for Europe and the democratic world. The US presidential election and its aftermath saw domestic disinformation emerging as a more visible ...

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 was a significant cautionary example of the offline effects of online disinformation and conspiracy theories. The historic democratic crisis this has sparked − adding to a number of other historic crises the US is currently battling − provides valuable lessons not only for the United States, but also for Europe and the democratic world. The US presidential election and its aftermath saw domestic disinformation emerging as a more visible immediate threat than disinformation by third countries. While political violence has been the most tangible physical effect of manipulative information, corrosive conspiracy theories have moved from the fringes to the heart of political debate, normalising extremist rhetoric. At the same time, recent developments have confirmed that the lines between domestic and foreign attempts to undermine democracy are increasingly blurred. While the perceived weaknesses in democratic systems are − unsurprisingly − celebrated as a victory for authoritarian state actors, links between foreign interference and domestic terrorism are under growing scrutiny. The question of how to depolarise US society − one of a long list of challenges facing the Biden Administration − is tied to the polarised media environment. The crackdown by major social media platforms on Donald Trump and his supporters has prompted far-right groups to abandon the established information ecosystem to join right-wing social media. This could further accelerate the ongoing fragmentation of the US infosphere, cementing the trend towards separate realities. Ahead of the proposed Democracy Summit − a key objective of the Biden Administration − tempering the 'sword of democracy' has risen to the top of the agenda on both sides of the Atlantic. Against this backdrop, and in line with the EU-US Agenda for Global Change, EU initiatives to counter disinformation − including the recent democracy action plan and the Digital Services Act − may provide a basis for EU-US cooperation on boosting democracy at home and abroad.

After the storming of the US Capitol: A second impeachment trial of President Trump?

20-01-2021

At 13.00 EST on 6 January 2021, the 117th United States Congress and US Vice-President Mike Pence assembled in the Capitol Building, seat of the US Congress in Washington, DC, to tally the electoral votes certified by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, thereby declaring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, respectively, US President-elect and Vice-President-elect. The ceremony was interrupted when an angry mob, seemingly encouraged by President Donald Trump in a speech earlier that day, broke into ...

At 13.00 EST on 6 January 2021, the 117th United States Congress and US Vice-President Mike Pence assembled in the Capitol Building, seat of the US Congress in Washington, DC, to tally the electoral votes certified by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, thereby declaring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, respectively, US President-elect and Vice-President-elect. The ceremony was interrupted when an angry mob, seemingly encouraged by President Donald Trump in a speech earlier that day, broke into the Capitol and forced the Vice-President and Members of Congress to shelter in fear for their lives, while the intruders clashed with Capitol security and vandalised and stole property. Later that day, the combined forces of the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Guard were able to evict the protesters and secure the building, allowing the Vice-President and Congress to re assemble and complete the ceremony. The invasion of the Capitol, a symbol of US democracy, has had dramatic political consequences. Trump has now been impeached by the House of Representatives for the second time − the only US President in history to be so. Democratic Party leaders had already appealed, the day after the intrusion, to Vice President Pence to use the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the US Constitution to replace Trump against his will before the end of his term on 20 January. The US Senate appears set to conduct an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office, but it is not certain that it has the authority to do so, or what the trial's legal or political outcome will be. This Briefing considers some of the options that Congress had to deprive President Trump of power immediately after 6 January, and the options that remain after Joe Biden becomes President on 20 January 2021.

Controversial legislative elections in Venezuela

21-12-2020

The mandate of the Venezuelan National Assembly, democratically elected in 2015, comes to an end on 5 January 2021; to renew it, the Maduro government called new legislative elections for 6 December 2020. While the government tightened its grip on power to secure a favourable outcome for itself, including through the appointment of a new electoral council, the opposition-led National Assembly presided by Juan Guaidó insisted on holding free and fair presidential and legislative elections with recognised ...

The mandate of the Venezuelan National Assembly, democratically elected in 2015, comes to an end on 5 January 2021; to renew it, the Maduro government called new legislative elections for 6 December 2020. While the government tightened its grip on power to secure a favourable outcome for itself, including through the appointment of a new electoral council, the opposition-led National Assembly presided by Juan Guaidó insisted on holding free and fair presidential and legislative elections with recognised international observers. The main opposition parties boycotted the 6 December elections – which were also ignored by at least 70 % of eligible voters – and held an alternative public consultation from 7 to 12 December, which resulted in a slightly higher turnout. The opposition described the elections as fraudulent, claiming that they had not met the minimum democratic requirements to qualify as free, fair and transparent. This position was shared by international players such as the European Union, the United States, the Organisation of American States and the Lima Group. Though the outlook of the Venezuelan crisis remains uncertain, there is still hope for a negotiated solution.

US foreign policy after the 2020 Presidential election: Issues for the European Union

03-12-2020

The election of the 46th President of the United States took place on 3 November 2020 amidst the unprecedented scenario of the coronavirus pandemic. Following several days of vote-counting, the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, secured the electoral votes needed to become the next President of the United States. His inauguration will take place on 20 January 2021. Domestic concerns, most notably the management of the coronavirus crisis and the economy, as well as racial issues, were the most important ...

The election of the 46th President of the United States took place on 3 November 2020 amidst the unprecedented scenario of the coronavirus pandemic. Following several days of vote-counting, the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, secured the electoral votes needed to become the next President of the United States. His inauguration will take place on 20 January 2021. Domestic concerns, most notably the management of the coronavirus crisis and the economy, as well as racial issues, were the most important subjects in determining voter preference. As usual, foreign policy did not rank highly amidst voters' concerns. However, for the European Union, the impact of the election of Joe Biden on US foreign policy will leave a substantial mark on the future course of transatlantic relations and of global cooperation. While foreign policy under the forthcoming Biden Administration is expected to depart from some of the key tenets of President Trump's 'America First' foreign policy, experts also point to a high possibility of continuity in areas such as trade and relations with China. However, on climate change, multilateral cooperation and support for NATO, expectations are high regarding a potential return to deep levels of transatlantic consensus and cooperation. Biden's foreign policy is likely to focus on multilateral cooperation, for example by re-joining the Paris Agreement on climate change and resuming US support for the World Health Organization. The former Vice-President has stated he will likely re-join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran Nuclear Deal) in time, and pursue an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia.

2020 Sakharov Prize laureate: The democratic opposition in Belarus

01-12-2020

At a time when authoritarianism is rising, the Sakharov Prize draws attention to the situation of those who resist the repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This year, the prize is to be awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council. It rewards its courageous and peaceful role in opposing the falsification of the August 2020 elections, despite a brutal crackdown by the authorities. The Sakharov Prize will be presented in a ceremony during ...

At a time when authoritarianism is rising, the Sakharov Prize draws attention to the situation of those who resist the repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This year, the prize is to be awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council. It rewards its courageous and peaceful role in opposing the falsification of the August 2020 elections, despite a brutal crackdown by the authorities. The Sakharov Prize will be presented in a ceremony during the European Parliament's December plenary session.

Post-Trump: Great expectations of Biden [What Think Tanks are thinking]

30-11-2020

Joseph Biden, who takes office as the next US President on 20 January 2021 has started to announce nominations for key posts in his Administration. Most commentators outside the US, as well as many at home, hope that a Biden presidency will seek to restore a rules-based international order, which has been badly shaken by his predecessor, Donald Trump. Although pundits warn against expecting miracles from the new President in international policy, as the national agenda is likely to be his top priority ...

Joseph Biden, who takes office as the next US President on 20 January 2021 has started to announce nominations for key posts in his Administration. Most commentators outside the US, as well as many at home, hope that a Biden presidency will seek to restore a rules-based international order, which has been badly shaken by his predecessor, Donald Trump. Although pundits warn against expecting miracles from the new President in international policy, as the national agenda is likely to be his top priority initially – notably the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, efforts to restore economic growth and the need to try to heal deep divisions in American society – there are still high hopes that Biden will bring the US back into the international community’s pursuit of peace and security, development goals and fighting climate change. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on issues related to US elections and President Biden’s expected policies in a number of areas.

US Presidential election [What Think Tanks are thinking]

19-11-2020

Joseph Biden, a former US Vice-President and long-time Senator with a strong interest in foreign affairs, won the US Presidential election for the Democrats, defeating the incumbent Republican President, Donald Trump. Over the past four years, Trump shook the established rules-based international order, notably by withdrawing US funding from various multilateral organisations and pulling out of various international agreements, by renegotiating trade deals, imposing provocative customs duties, and ...

Joseph Biden, a former US Vice-President and long-time Senator with a strong interest in foreign affairs, won the US Presidential election for the Democrats, defeating the incumbent Republican President, Donald Trump. Over the past four years, Trump shook the established rules-based international order, notably by withdrawing US funding from various multilateral organisations and pulling out of various international agreements, by renegotiating trade deals, imposing provocative customs duties, and progressively reducing America’s foreign military presence. Although Trump has not yet conceded defeat, his allegations of election fraud and related attempts at litigation are widely seen as frivolous. Once Biden becomes President, the US is expected to seek to strengthen the transatlantic alliance and revive the multilateral system, without necessarily being able to pursue any significant liberalisation of trade, given domestic political pressures and the ambiguous situation in the US Congress. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on issues related to US elections and President Biden’s expected policies in a number of areas.

The role of the Electoral College in US presidential elections

04-11-2020

The President and Vice-President of the United States of America are not elected directly by US voters, but rather by the Electoral College, a representative body composed of 538 electors chosen by voters in parallel contests in each of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. This body emerged during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as a compromise designed to ensure the continuing pre-eminence of the states in the US federal system, as well as to temper what were seen then as potentially ...

The President and Vice-President of the United States of America are not elected directly by US voters, but rather by the Electoral College, a representative body composed of 538 electors chosen by voters in parallel contests in each of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. This body emerged during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as a compromise designed to ensure the continuing pre-eminence of the states in the US federal system, as well as to temper what were seen then as potentially dangerous democratic passions. At first, state legislatures chose the electors, and it was only in the 19th century that state authorities began to appoint electors on the basis of the result of a popular vote. The operation of the Electoral College and the process by which it chooses a presidential 'ticket' has attracted growing attention in recent decades, on account of an increasingly polarised US political landscape and a changing electoral map. The existence of the Electoral College poses a number of basic questions about the fairness of the electoral process and popular representation in the United States. Moreover, there are many questions about how precisely the Electoral College process should be carried out, in order for it to be considered legitimate, especially as regards the behaviour of electors and their political parties during the election period. Two elections in the past two decades – those of 2000 and 2016 – have resulted in the victory of a candidate who received fewer votes nationwide than their opponent. Calls for the abolition of the institution and the introduction of direct election of the President by all citizens have become more frequent. Polls show a consistent majority in favour of this change, although this majority has narrowed and opinion has become more polarised along partisan lines as evidence has emerged of a structural advantage in the Electoral College for the Republican Party candidate. Nevertheless, this institution has endured for over two centuries of republican government, and a number of arguments are put forward in its defence. US public opinion is also more divided on the detail of proposed alternatives.

Parlamendiväline autor

European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington DC

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