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World Ahead of election, a handful of world leaders voice support for Trump

13:25  28 october  2020
13:25  28 october  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Leaders and prominent figures from around the world Friday sent their best wishes to U.S. President Donald Trump and his family after he announced that he and first lady Melania India's prime minister and close Trump ally Narendra Modi was one of the first heads of state to send a message of support .

By custom, most world leaders do not weigh in on U.S. presidential elections, wary of alienating one side or damaging strategic interests by appearing to interfere.

Angela Merkel, Yasutoshi Nishimura, Shinzo Abe standing around a table: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, speaks with President Trump during the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, on June 9, 2018. (Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government/AP) German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, speaks with President Trump during the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, on June 9, 2018. (Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government/AP)

In 2016, then Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, speaking at a town hall, claimed that foreign leaders had reached out to ask if they could endorse her, “to stop Donald Trump.” A few, like Italy’s prime minister at the time, Matteo Renzi, had already done so in public. But she would not run down the list.

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President Trump, on the other hand, in 2016 and 2020, has received the vocal support of a handful of foreign leaders, mostly right-wing populists known for clear parallels to Trump in policy and rhetoric.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden, like Clinton, has seen significant support from former heads of state around the globe. But, despite Trump’s low rate of approval in many foreign countries, according to polls, most world leaders have remained quiet.

Here are some countries with leaders that have bucked the norm and expressed outspoken support for Trump.

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Hungary

Shortly after Trump first accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in July of 2016, he was endorsed by Hungary’s right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

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Joe Biden has voiced support for Belarus’s opposition in its general strike against President Alexander Lukashenko, saying the embattled leader ’s reign was illegitimate. Biden, who leads President Donald Trump in polls ahead of next week’s US election , promised if he wins to “significantly expand”

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That early support cemented what has developed into a close affinity, built in part on shared anti-immigration views. Last month, Orban once again endorsed Trump.

“We root for Donald Trump’s victory, because we know well American Democratic governments’ diplomacy, built on moral imperialism,” Orban wrote in an essay, Reuters reported. “We have been forced to sample it before, we did not like it, we do not want seconds.”

Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro endorsed Trump earlier this month, after signing a new trade deal with the United States.

“God willing I will be able to attend” the inauguration, said Bolsonaro, according to Politico. Brazil’s leader added that he did not want to “interfere,” and said he was speaking “from the heart.”

Like Orban, Trump and Bolsonaro share common ground. They are both known for populist policies and bombastic rhetoric that defies political norms. Amid presidencies marked by two of the world’s most severe novel coronavirus outbreaks, they have both caught the virus while continuing to downplay its impact.

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Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave Trump’s reelection his blessing in February, shortly after ending a long-standing military agreement with the United States.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper called the decision to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement “unfortunate,” but Trump said he did not mind.

“It is President Trump’s circumspect and judicious reaction to the termination of the VFA that made President Duterte give the following remarks: ‘President Trump is a good president and he deserves to be reelected’,” the country’s presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement, Reuters reported.

Human rights groups accuse Duterte of enabling rights abuses and a culture of widespread impunity in crackdowns on political opponents and an going war on drugs.

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Serbia

The leaders of Serbia and of Kosovo, the independence of which Serbia does not recognize, met with Trump in September and agreed to normalize economic ties. While short of fully restored relations, U.S. diplomats called it “a first step.”

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It was a political win for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who in June told a local television station that Trump faced “a serious and tough enemy” after anti-racism protests erupted following the death of George Floyd in police custody, the AP reported.

“I hope the U.S. will come out of the crisis,” he said, adding that he wished Trump “the best of luck.”

Vucic was elected president in 2017, after having served as prime minister. The former head of an ultranationalist Serbian party, he’s since recast himself as a pro-Western liberal while maintaining close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Another leader in the region, Milorad Dodik — the Serb member of Bosnia’s three-part, multiethnic presidency — on Friday called on Serbs in the United States to vote for Trump, and said that Biden “is simply a Serb hater,” according to the AP.

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Slovenia

The prime minister of Slovenia endorsed Trump in a tweet on Friday, adding the birthplace of first lady Melania Trump to the clique of countries with leaders that have sided with the incumbent candidate.

“We respect the difficult, tragic personal life of Joe Biden and some of his political achievements years ago,” Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa tweeted, in a reference to Biden, who lost a wife and daughter in a car crash and a son to cancer.

“But today, if elected, he [Biden] would be one of the weakest presidents in history. When a free world desperately needs a STRONG #U.S. as never before. Go, win, Donald Trump,” Jansa wrote. He ended the tweet with images of American and Slovenian flags.

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usr: 16
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