Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo
U.S. presidential election is officially still undecided. Although Joe Biden has highly probably won, President Trump sticks to the claim of his victory and refuses to concede his defeat.
Ballot counting is officially not over and no one is in a position to call the shots in this stage.
According to the accustomed procedure, desirably President Trump concedes the defeat at this stage and then Mr. Biden camp would proceed to the preparation for the reign which will start on January 20, 2021.
As expected, though, Trump administration blocks the transition to start. The always loyal Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, even insisted “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” in his November 10 press briefing.
This situation can cause world leaders’ nightmare. Either Trump or Biden, leaders have to cope with the victor as long as he or she is the most powerful person on earth.
It does not matter who won. What matter is how decisively U.S. voters’ will are revealed. Non-US citizens would hope a landslide victory for either of the candidates, no matter which one. The result of the U.S. presidential election 2020 dashed that hope. The unending limbo is embarrassing for world leaders who would congratulate and make oaths of allegiance to a new ruler of the superpower.
As the probability of Mr. Biden’s win became higher, leaders of the U.S. allied countries, including those of the Western European countries and Japan as well as the Gulf leaders, are cautiously congratulating Mr. Biden.
The interesting thing is, authoritarian leaders including Russian president Vladimir Putin or Chinese president Xi Jinping are the most hesitant to accept the defeat of Mr. Trump.
It might be an inconvenient and unacceptable course of events that an incumbent president can be forced to leave the office losing an election to an opposition candidate.
President Trump shows a clear tendency in his character and his behavior for an authoritarian rule. The fact is, the most powerful person in the world, the U.S. president, is in reality weak within the system of the U.S. government and the U.S. constitutional and legal system doesn’t allow the president to do whatever he or she wants, particularly on the matter of elections.
As everyone knows, the U.S. electoral system is a huge mess with full of confusions. It is, however, an exquisitely designed mess. The institutional constraint of presidential power is highly efficiently hindering President Trump to perpetuate his rule at will.