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What the results of the US-midterm elections means for the rest of the world

05 November 2014 [16:58] - TODAY.AZ

By Claude Salhani

Senior editor of the English service of Trend Agency

The Republicans will be back in power once the Congress reconvenes in January, as the GOP take over both Houses of Congress and President Barack Obama becomes a “lame duck president.”

The Republicans will control the US Senate, having won 52 seats. They needed 51. The Democrats got 45 and there are three independents. Overall, the Republicans won seven seats, the Democrats lost eight (a huge loss) and the independents won one seat.

In the House, Republicans take 245 seats, the Democrats 191. The GOP will also have the highest number of seats in the House since 1928. But the president sitting in the White House remains a Democrat. This of course will complicate life for the president, at least for the next two years

The lame duck president will find any bills the Republicans dislike blocked by Congress. Chances are most will be blocked as the GOP tries to make the Democrats look bad for the next presidential elections, though this can be a double-edged sword.

State governors (those are important in the presidential election) also go to the Republicans, 22 to the Democrats and one independent. Eight states switched from Dems to Republican (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia). None switched to the Democrats and Kansas went to the independents.

The mid term elections held in most states of the union signals the start of the presidential election campaign as the candidates sprint out the doors, with the first rest stop being the party conventions where each party nominates a candidate. And then the race for the White House really begins.

And herein lies the danger and a great tragedy of American politics. During the two years during which the United States moves into electioneering mode, more often than not the rest of the world is placed on hold as America focuses on who will be the next president and hundreds of millions of dollars are spend campaigning. This is a tragedy because that money could be put to better use.

The result of the midterm usually sort of indicates where the presidential election is heading. So given the results by the Republicans, is it safe to assume that the next American president will come from the GOP?

Whoa! Not so fast. In principle, yes. However, given the split between the so-called “establishment,’ wing of the Republican Party and the tea-party wing the Republicans are far more likely to end up shooting themselves in the foot, giving the Democrats a victory in the presidential race in 2016.

While for Americans the difference between a Republican and a Democrat president in the White House and control of both Houses on Capitol Hill can affect issues such as raising the minimum wage – or not --, allowing abortion or not, easing up on gun ownership (a very big issue in the US) , allowing gay marriage or not, many foreigners have a hard time differentiating between a Democrat and a Republican in the Oval Office, as they see little change in American behavior when it comes to foreign politics.

Yet the difference is there. Republicans tend to be more aggressive in foreign policy, often tempted to ignore the rest of the world, as George W. Bush tried to do before 9/11. Republicans generally have more support for the military, which they also tend to deploy more liberally than the liberals. Republicans also tend to ignore

Though at times the lines become blurred as Democrat presidents have also deployed the military; Bill Clinton in Bosnia and Obama ordering airstrikes against IS positions in Iraq and Syria, albeit reluctantly and late.

Some foreigners do however notice a difference, as noted one young Azerbaijani, stating relations with Washington were better under the Republicans. No doubt true, but Washington needed all the help it could get in Afghanistan, and Baku was eager to help from providing back bases to military cooperation.

Claude Salhani is a senior editor with Trend Agency and a specialist on Middle East and terrorism affairs. You can follow Claude on twitter @claudesalhani.


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