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US Elections: Reactions flood in for Biden victory

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Cheering crowds celebrated in major U.S. cities following the news that former Vice-President Joe Biden had won the U.S. presidential election, their joy matched by the relief and enthusiasm evident in the reactions of world leaders who, one after the other, congratulated the president-elect and his running mate Kamala Harris.

Congratulating Biden on his “spectacular victory,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled that, as Vice President, Biden’s “contribution to strengthening Indo-US relations was critical and invaluable.” He added: “I look forward to working closely together once again to take India-US relations to greater heights.”

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”

Italy’s Giuseppe Conte said his government stood “ready to work with President-elect Joe Biden to make the transatlantic relationship stronger.” He added: “The US can count on Italy as a solid ally and a strategic partner.”

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also among world leader’s welcoming the new U.S. leaders. “I look forward to future cooperation with President-Elect Biden,” she said in a statement on Twitter. “Our transatlantic friendship is irreplaceable if we are to master the greatest challenges of our time.” Germany’s first female chancellor also highlighted the fact that Kamala Harris would be her country’s first elected female vice president.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Saturday that “The US is our important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote a message on Twitter just after the results came in. “Congratulations from Scotland to President-Elect Joe Biden and the history-making Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.”

“The first woman in the White House – and the first woman of colour too. This is a big and special moment,” she added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Biden for his victory in the U.S. presidential election, calling the Democratic leader a “great friend of Israel”.

“Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Joe, we’ve known each other for almost 40 years, we have a warm relationship, and I know that you are a great friend of Israel. I hope that with the two of you, I can deepen the special alliance between the United States and Israel even further,” Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday morning

On The US Side

U.S. media on Saturday called the state of Pennsylvania for Biden, enabling him to obtain 273 electoral college votes, three more than the 270 needed to win the presidential election. Biden’s lead increased later on Saturday to 279, bolstered by six electoral votes from the state of Nevada.

In New York, the streets of Manhattan resounded with shouts of joy and the honking of car horns as elated residents celebrated the election result. Some residents banged on pots and pans in scenes reminiscent of the homage paid on Spring evenings to the health-care workers who risked their lives to take care of people infected with the novel Coronavirus during the first wave of infections.

Thousands of Manhattan residents converged on strategic points, from Columbus Circle to Central Park, and from Times Square to Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, under a radiant sky and temperatures bordering on summer lows.

“This has been four years of suffering; he’s a hateful man, really hateful,” said 58-year-old university professor Jacqueline Brown, who had cycled to Columbus Circle to join the crowd there. “I’m overjoyed,” said 84-year-old Bernie Jacobs as he sipped his coffee and munched on bagels next to Trump tower. J.D. Beebe, head of a small online company, said he was happy that now that “a respectable human being is at the helm.”

On the other hand, supporters of the incumbent president gathered in some state capitals on Saturday in support of the “Stop the Steal” campaign, which was kicked off Facebook this week for spreading misinformation and inciting violence.

The campaign is part of efforts by the outgoing president and some of his allies to delegitimise the election results by claiming fraud. In Arizona, one of five states still to be declared, pro-Trump protesters gathered outside election headquarters as votes were still being counted.

Trump himself insists that he has won the presidential poll and he has vowed to continue fighting. “I won this election by a lot,” he tweeted on Saturday. “Beginning on Monday, our camp will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure that election laws are fully upheld,” he promised.

Over the past few days, the Trump camp and allied groups have filed a series of lawsuits in various states to have some ballots invalidated or to block the counting of mail-in votes. In some instances, courts have already declined to entertain the legal challenges.

While Trump has refused to concede defeat, some prominent Republican politicians have publicly congratulated Biden and his running mate.

Sitting Republican Senator Mitt Romney said he and his wife, Ann, “extend our congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. We know both of them as people of goodwill and admirable character. We pray that God may bless them in the days and years ahead.”

Former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he had prayed for the country’s presidents most of his adult life. “I will be praying for you and your success,” he added in his congratulatory message to the Biden-Harris team. “Now is the time to heal deep wounds. Many are counting on you to lead the way.”

Former Republican Governor of the State of Ohio, John Kasich, had a similar message for the country’s incoming helmsman: “ I know you will do as you promised and be a president for the whole country,” he wrote.

The Brussels Times