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Politics & Law Series: Expert Comment

US election 2016: City experts react

Experts at City, University of London provide analysis of the US election result.

by City Press Office (General enquiries)

Academics from across City, University of London have provided analysis of the 2016 US election announced on Wednesday 9th November.

Students on the International Journalism MA also provided live web coverage and features on their website, and via @EditorUsa2016.

Inderjeet Parmar Professor Inderjeet Parmar, Department of International Politics, said:

“Trump is unpredictable but he is also just one man, office holder albeit the most powerful in the world. He still has to get legislation past congress, and therefore by a hardcore conservative body that is bankrolled by corporations and who want to placate the markets. The house and senate are likely to check and balance Trump and, most likely, he will moderate his positions to make deals with congress.

“Long term, the US remains the most powerful, innovative, technologically and scientifically advanced economy in the world, so it will continue to improve and grow. But this shock will unnerve markets short-term.”

In an article for The Wire Professor Parmar described some of the factors behind Clinton’s defeat and what the election result reveals about US politics today.

He explained Clinton had promised “more of the same to a nation that, after eight years of the Obama presidency, was more unequal and seething with discontent on Left and Right”.

“The last thing it wanted was someone attached to the centre-ground,” he said.

David Collins Professor David Collins, from The City Law School, said:

“While Trump’s position on trade during the presidential campaign has been one of protectionism and withdrawal from trade agreements, we have some reason to feel optimistic that this will not come to fruition now that he has won. We have already seen a more balanced, conciliatory tone from Trump since his victory and there is every indication that he will move away from some of his harsh anti-trade rhetoric when it becomes clear that this approach will do more harm to the US economy than good."

Professor Collins, an expert in International Economic Law, who has published extensively on global trade issues and the World Trade Organisation, believes Trump will give precedence to trade relations with the UK:

"He has indicated that the UK will be among his top priorities when signing new trade agreements and his renegotiation of existing agreements might actually address some of the genuinely unfair trade practices he mentioned during his campaign. For example, Trump regularly pointed to China’s currency manipulation which has been inadequately addressed under current international trade laws (for example the WTO).

"Some mechanism to prevent this kind of protectionism is needed. He is clearly a ‘deal-maker’ and it seems unlikely that he will not pursue trade negotiations which are of mutual benefit to the US and places like the UK.”

Dr John Stanton Dr John Stanton, a Senior Lecturer in Constitutional Law, said:

"With concern about Trump’s political and personal views in mind, therefore, combined with issues raised in connection with the rule of law, now more than ever do we need to acknowledge the importance of constitutional legal constraints acting upon a political system defined by populist movements."

Dr Stanton, the author of Democratic Sustainability in a New Era of Localism is of the view that Trump will not be given carte blanche to do as he pleases.

"In America, and with Donald Trump at the helm, there exist various constitutional restraints that could temper the policies, views and political ideas that he has come to represent and on the strength of which he has been elected. The US President isn’t in fact quite as powerful as popular opinion might think, in chief due to the principles and values that are set out in and protected by the US Constitution, also advocated more broadly by the Founding Fathers back in the 18th century. The US system is one that respects a separation of powers and honours checks and balances." 

"This mandates that whilst the President is the seat of executive power and there has extensive governmental authority, the legislative and judicial functions rest elsewhere. Congress – composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate – makes law and whilst the President has the power to approve or veto bills, once they have passed through both Houses, that veto is itself susceptible to overrule by two-thirds of Congress. If Donald Trump’s policies and views are to inform the legislative process, therefore, he must work with the Republican Party in Congress as it is ultimately up to them to introduce the bills and to work towards their enactment."

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