Relief sweeps through Western capitals after Biden win

LONDON — Sighs of relief rippled through the capitals of the United States’ traditional allies Saturday after Joe Biden became president-elect.

Many leaders have been battered by four years of the convention-smashing President Donald Trump, and see in Biden a counterpart who will try and return America onto a path of multilateralism and international cooperation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had a fraught relationship with Trump, was among the first world leaders to issue a statement congratulating Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris.

Nov. 7, 202002:41

“Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage,” Trudeau wrote soon after news emerged that the former vice president had won the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, according to NBC News projections. “I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was less diplomatic.

“Welcome back America!” she wrote on Twitter. “Congratulations to Joe Biden andKamala Harris for their election!”

The news comes after days of nail-biting angst not only in America but across the world, as the presidential race inched its way to a conclusion.

The stretch after Election Day saw Trump and his allies repeatedly and falsely suggest that the ongoing count of eligible ballots is a sign of fraud. His campaign has filed lawsuits in battleground states, raising worries that he would not accept defeat.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump has said, repeating a baseless claim — there’s no evidence that any fraudulent ballots have been counted.

Comments like these deal a blow to America’s image as an exponent of democracy and will likely further warm some of America’s longstanding allies to a Biden victory.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed the “clear figures” that propelled Biden to victory.

“We look forward to working with the next U.S. government. We want to invest in our cooperation for a new transatlantic beginning, a new deal,” he wrote on Twitter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Vice President Joe Biden in Berlin in 2013.Steffen Kugler-Bundesregierung / Getty Images file

Relations with NATO, and in particular Germany, were strained under Trump, so a new U.S. leader will be greeted warmly by many in the military alliance. Trump also publicly criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Europeans will be extremely relieved,” Hans Kundnani, a senior research fellow at U.K.-based think tank Chatham House focusing on Europe and transatlantic relations, said before the election. “Biden will be more diplomatic toward allies across the board but particularly toward Europeans.”

But not everyone will be happy at the prospect of a Biden presidency.

A sense of unease is likely coursing through parts of the Middle East, where Trump’s White House has had especially close relationships with the leaders of longtime U.S. partners Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Egypt.

“They are going to try to coexist with Biden and make the best of a bad situation from their point of view,” Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, told NBC News. “They put most of their eggs in Trump’s basket — he’s been good to them.”

Download the NBC News app for the latest news on the coronavirus

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow will work with any U.S. leader, but Biden’s win will be a net negative for Russia, Moscow-based political analyst Vladimir Frolov said before the election.

Biden called Russia the biggest threat to U.S. national security last month — an assessment the Kremlin said encouraged hatred of Russia. He has also promised that Russia would pay an economic price if it interfered in the election.

“Moscow is paying close attention to this and does not like what it sees,” Frolov said.

However, even as the outcome of the race appeared finally determined, there were indications that the fight for the White House may yet be over.

“Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states … Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.

Ahead of the result being called, one of Germany’s leading news outlets, Der Spiegel, led its website on Friday with a story headlined “The Squatter,” illustrated with a drawing of Trump barricading himself into the Oval Office with a shotgun in hand. On news of Biden’s win on Saturday this was replaced with reframing Trump’s popular slogan: “Make America Great Again” as Biden reassembled the Statue of Liberty.