Britons woke to a sense of déjà vu on Wednesday, seeing another Brexit-like stunner in the United States.
Just as in the days leading up to the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union, polls, pundits and investors ultimately got it wrong and woefully underestimated Donald Trump’s chances of winning.
“The revolution continues,” said Nigel Farage, the interim head of the UK Independence Party who led the campaign to get Britain out of the EU.
In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Farage called Donald Trump’s victory “absolutely huge” and added there were many parallels with Brexit. “And that’s why Trump had me out there talking about it in August and that’s why he’s talked about [Brexit] every single night of the campaign,” he said.
He added that like in Britain, U.S. pundits and pollsters failed to understand the deep resentment among many voters and couldn’t properly measure who turned out to vote. “They can’t measure nonvoters who were entering into the polling process,” he said.
Matthew Goodwin, a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Kent, said pollsters again misread the public.
“One again, pundits and pollsters have failed to accurately identify the depth of frustration and anger among white, working-class, less-well-educated and left-behind voters who feel under threat from global markets and rising levels of ethnic and cultural diversity,” Prof. Goodwin said.
The reaction across much of Europe was cautious, with most leaders offering congratulations to the president-elect.
“Britain and the United States have an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise. We are, and will remain, strong and close partners on trade, security and defence,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May. “I look forward to working with president-elect Donald Trump, building on these ties to ensure the security and prosperity of our nations in the years ahead.”
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who backed Hilary Clinton, wished Mr. Trump well and added: “The Italo-American friendship is solid.”
But other European officials were far more concerned.
“One will have to try to know what this new president wants to do,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. “Since what he has said so far has created lots of worries.”
Norbert Rottgen, head of the foreign affairs committee of the German Bundestag, called Mr. Trump’s foreign policy “absolutely unpredictable.”
“We can see that he doesn’t know himself. He doesn’t know who his [foreign policy] people will be. But we have seen in his character. We have seen his readiness for hatred and for talking of violence,” Mr. Rottgen told the Financial Times.
Investors seemed reassured by Mr. Trump’s victory speech, in which he took a conciliatory tone and pledged to spend more on infrastructure.
European stock markets opened down but regained much of their losses within a few hours. The FTSE 100 index in London fell about 1.4 per cent shortly after the open, before recovering nearly all of the loss. The initial drop also wasn’t nearly as sharp as after the Brexit vote in June, a sign that Mr. Trump’s victory is not expected to entail the same kind of prolonged uncertainty as Brexit.
“With Donald Trump winning the U.S. election a broad global risk off move is developing, although we’ve not seen the kind of panic that followed the EU referendum, except in isolated instances such as the Mexico peso,” said Ranko Berich, head of market analysis at Monex Europe.Report Typo/Error