The U.S. election ended on Tuesday (local time) but it is still not clear who will take the White House. Neither President Donald Trump nor Democratic candidate Joe Biden has secured the magic number of 270 electoral votes to determine the winner. President Trump is leading in swing states unlike the initial prediction, but final results will not be available for some time as some of the states have not counted mail-in ballots yet. Amid the chaos, both the president and the candidate are expressing confidence for a win.
Such confusion at the end of a presidential election stems from the country’s uniquely complicated election system. Twenty-two out of 50 states allow mail-in ballots that arrive after the day of the election day, which means counting ballots can be delayed by three or four days, unlike South Korea where ballots are counted as soon as the election ends. The winner of the states that are too close to call in the initial counting will become available by the weekend at the earliest. It may also lead to litigations regarding election results during the process. In this case, an unprecedented case of not knowing who will become the next president for several weeks after the election day may unfold.
The U.S. had prevented chaos after a presidential election based on the culture of concession. This year, however, the current president publicly indicated that he may not concede election results without the minimum level of dignity, causing more intense competition. Bloodshed conflicts between Trump supporters and Biden supporters took place in several places. There were such misfortunate events in the past due to overheated presidential elections, but not at this level. As candidates put an increasingly heavier focus on rallying their supporters and winning the election, the democratic system, which drove integration among people during many crises, found itself at risk.
The political division and ideological, racial, and class conflicts that have been clearly revealed through the election will become a huge hurdle for whoever becomes the next president in exercising his leadership and heavily affect both domestic and foreign policies of the U.S. Such difficulties in leadership will have a significant impact on international affairs, given the global influence of the superpower. From the South Korean perspective, potential sources of tension, including North Korea’s nuclear threats, can be found across the world.
Whoever becomes the leader of the U.S. administration, he will be tempted by nationalism if his domestic support base is vulnerable. The U.S.-China hegemonic race that is expanding into all areas, including politics and economy, will continue, shadowing the global economy. South Korea, which is highly dependent on export, will face challenges in terms of implementing its policies if the new U.S. administration’s international trade policies are ambiguous. This is why the world is paying close attention to repercussions to be brought on by the crisis of the next U.S. leadership.