The race for the White House has begun, but who will emerge victorious?

With elections coming up in major economies, including the USA, some three billion people will be called to the polls between 2024 and 2025. With the Republican primary in full swing, the shadow of a Donald Trump comeback looms large, while candidate Nikki Haley appears to be the only way out. Indeed, Trump’s possible re-election raises geopolitical concerns, particularly in international relations, as well as economic and political challenges.


The “Global Risks Report” was published on January 10, just a few days before the launch of the World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, from January 15 to 19. “The outlook is very gloomy”, set the tone for Saadia Zahidi, the Forum’s Executive Director.


Over the next two years, citizens will be called upon to elect new leaders in major economies such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, the UK and the USA. Nearly three billion people will exercise their right to vote between 2024 and 2025.


“The widespread use of misinformation [unintentionally false information] and disinformation [intentionally false information], and the tools used to disseminate them, can undermine the legitimacy of newly elected governments”, warns the Global Risks Report, which also warns of the dangers of artificial intelligence. Added to this, this year, are “concerns about a persistent cost-of-living crisis”, notes the Forum in a press release. In particular, the climate phenomenon known as El Niño is causing global warming.


Against this backdrop, the American presidential elections, to be held in November 2024, take on a special significance. All the more so since Donald Trump, with his controversial positions, is emerging as the favorite in the race to the White House. He won the Iowa caucuses – the first stage of the Republican primary that will culminate in July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the national convention.



DeSantis out


Republican candidate Ron DeSantis has finally chosen to endorse the former president for the 2024 presidential election. In a video posted on X on Sunday, January 21, the Florida governor said he would “suspend [his] campaign” for the Republican nomination.


“It’s clear to me that the majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” he justified.



It was seven months earlier that this ultraconservative Republican at war with “wokism” had announced his challenge to the former President of the United States. In the polls, the Florida governor was once seen as his most serious competitor, with just over 30% of voting intentions for the Grand Old Party primaries in the spring of 2023.


But by adopting the posture of a “Trump 2.0”, Ron DeSantis never built up the stature of a credible alternative to the billionaire. Even to the point of supporting the former President of the United States when he was indicted in March 2023.


In recent weeks, Ron DeSantis has fallen drastically in the polls. Only managing a timid second place in the Iowa caucuses, the candidate finally threw in the towel…


Nikki Haley, the last “bulwark”?


Now, only Nikki Haley, who came third in the caucuses, can challenge a landslide victory in the New Hampshire election today. The former governor of South Carolina, the only woman on the ballot and a popular new figure on the American right, is putting forward a classic conservative argument. She stresses the problems associated with a federal government deemed to be bloated, excessive debt and taxes, and an immigration system perceived as lax. She advocates raising the retirement age for new entrants to the workforce to prevent the bankruptcy of the Social Security and Medicare systems.


While Donald Trump profusely refers to her as a “globalist”, in reality there are few differences between their agendas, with the exception of the Ukrainian question. Nikki Haley wants to continue supporting the country on a massive scale, while Donald Trump boasts of his ability to mediate between Kiev and Moscow. The battle centers mainly on style and generation.



Appointed in 2017 by her current rival to the post of ambassador to the United Nations despite her lack of international experience, Nikki Haley is holding back less and less of her criticism of Donald Trump. She turns outgoing Democratic President Joe Biden, 81, and her former boss, 77, back on each other. The former South Carolina governor, who just turned 52, calls for “electing a leader of a new generation and leaving behind the negativity and the liabilities”. She stepped up her attacks over the weekend, publicly questioning whether Donald Trump’s “mental capacity” had been impaired by age. For his part, Trump has not forgiven her for reneging on her promise not to run against him if he were the nominee in 2024.


Born Nimarata Nikki Randhawa, daughter of an Indian immigrant couple of Sikh faith, mother of two and married to a National Guard officer deployed to Djibouti, Nikki Haley entered the political arena in 2004 when she was elected to the legislature of her native South Carolina. She rose to national prominence in 2010 during her campaign for governor. Once elected, she kept her course to the right, showing her opposition to unions and taxes as well as gay marriage, and expressing her reluctance to welcome Syrian refugees to her state.


What if…Trump were elected?


Compared with his first term, which had already shaken up the international system, the consequences of a Donald Trump re-election could be even more destabilizing. Between 2016 and 2020, he had already disrupted the system with his criticism of NATO, his closeness to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, his protectionist policies towards China and the European Union, and his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.



So, what can we anticipate should Donald Trump win the next presidential election? The same themes will be put forward, but potentially exacerbated. Under the slogans “MAGA” (“Make America Great Again”) and “America first”, Trump will once again express his reservations about multilateral cooperation organizations such as the G7, the G20 and NATO. The question arises particularly for the latter institution, widely criticized between 2017 and 2021 by Trump, who considered that the United States should not assume so many costs to guarantee the security of its European allies. Senate approval is required to sign an international treaty involving Uncle Sam, but the Constitution says nothing about withdrawing from such a treaty. So, as a precaution, two U.S. Senators passed a legislative amendment preventing a President from unilaterally withdrawing the U.S. from the organization.



The issue is even more worrying in the midst of the war in Ukraine. Even if Trump were to remain in NATO, he could decide to suspend military and financial aid to Kiev, which would be a disaster for Ukraine and the Europeans, but an opportunity for Vladimir Putin. Alexander Vershbow, former US ambassador to NATO and former NATO deputy secretary general, points out that Trump could remove the US ambassador from his post, ban diplomats from attending meetings or stop contributing to the operating budget of the organization’s Brussels headquarters, without fear of congressional censure. “From a legal point of view, there would be no way to prevent it.”


Europeans have other reasons to worry about a Trump return to the White House. Economic concerns, with trade relations likely to tighten, and political concerns, with support for populist parties or movements in Europe and their scathing criticisms of the way democracies currently operate, criticisms that could be encouraged by a Trump administration. Finally, a return of Donald Trump would also have repercussions in Asia and the Middle East. The Chinese fear both a deterioration in bilateral economic relations and an intransigent defense of Taiwan. In the Middle East, Benyamin Netanyahu might secretly rejoice at Trump’s victory, as a staunch ally of Israel, reluctant to promote the two-state solution.


For all these reasons, a possible Trump victory in the United States would constitute one of the world’s greatest geopolitical challenges in 2024.



Featured photo : ©Charles Krupa/AP/SIPA

Hugues Reydellet est un jeune journaliste passionné, dont les sujets de prédilection sont l'économie, la culture, la gastronomie, mais aussi l'automobile et le sport. Avec une plume acérée et une curiosité insatiable, Hugues est constamment à la recherche de nouvelles informations brûlantes à rapporter.


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