New York, United States, Nov 9 – Political novice and former reality TV star Donald Trump has defeated Hillary Clinton to take the US presidency, stunning America and the world in an explosive upset fueled by a wave of grassroots anger.
The Republican mogul immediately pledged to unite a nation deeply divided after the bitterest election in recent memory, vowing to be a “president for all Americans.”
The long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington’s leadership, was cast into doubt by the election of a man who has questioned core US alliances.
Around the world, as Trump’s victory settled in as cold reality, the political earthquake was greeted with warnings that America had handed power to “an unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar,” in the words of Britain’s The Guardian.
But the leaders of America’s closest hemispheric partners, Canada and Mexico, quickly made clear their willingness to work with the new president, offering a message of continuity and stability with their giant neighbor.
And US investors appeared to be shaking off the shock that initially sent global markets plunging.
Trump called for national reconciliation after Clinton conceded defeat in a result that virtually no poll had dreamed of predicting, her hopes of becoming the first female US president brutally dashed.
“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division,” Trump told a crowd of jubilant supporters early Wednesday in New York, pledging to work with Democrats in office.
Trump praised Clinton — in the last presidential debate, he called her a “nasty woman” — for her hard work and years of public service. His campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said the pair had a brief but “very gracious, very warm conversation” by phone.
– Nervous allies –
So great was the shock of defeat that the normally robust Clinton did not come out to her supporters’ poll-watching party to concede defeat, instead sending her campaign chairman.
She was due to speak early Wednesday.
As day broke under rainy skies in Washington, the White House said President Barack Obama called Trump to congratulate him. The president, who will host his successor for transition talks on Thursday, was to address the country and the nation at 1715 GMT.
During a bitter two-year campaign that tugged at America’s democratic fabric, the 70-year-old tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free trade deals.
There was no disguising the concern of Washington’s partners that Trump’s victory might destroy the Western alliance they still regard as a touchstone for stability and the rule of law
Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin said he wanted to rebuild “full-fledged relations” with the United States, as he warmly congratulated the president-elect.
EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, seeking reassurances about transatlantic ties, invited Trump to an EU-US summit at his “earliest convenience.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world body was counting on Trump’s administration to help combat climate change and advance human rights worldwide.
And NATO head Jens Stoltenberg warned Trump, who spoke during the campaign of making US allies bear a bigger share of the Western security burden, that “US leadership is more important than ever.”
Trump openly praised Putin during the race, questioned US support for NATO allies in Europe and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted to Trump’s election by insisting that his country and the United States are “unshakeable allies.”
Some of the most enthusiastic support for Trump came from far-right and nationalist politicians in Europe such as French opposition figure Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Northern League and British euroskeptic Nigel Farage.
– Markets rattled –
Trump will become America’s 45th commander-in-chief on January 20.
The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe, while the Mexican peso plunged 7.64 percent to a record low against the dollar.
But the British market briefly after Trump’s conciliatory victory speech and the Dow Jones Industrial Index opened higher.
Trump’s campaign message was embraced by a large section of America’s white majority, grown increasingly disgruntled by the scope of social and economic change under Obama, their first black president.
Many Americans from minority backgrounds expressed dismay at Trump’s victory, which some observers blamed on a backlash against multicultural America.
Although he has no government experience and has been as well known for running beauty pageants and starring on his reality television series “The Apprentice” as he is for building his property empire, Trump is the oldest man ever elected president.
Yet, during his improbable political rise, Trump constantly proved the pundits and standard political wisdom wrong.
Opposed by the senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, he trounced more than a dozen better-funded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.
During the race, he was forced to ride out credible allegations of sexual assault from a dozen women and was embarrassed but apparently not ashamed to have been caught on tape boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.
Unique in modern US political history, he refused to release his tax returns — leaving a question mark over how much, if any, tax he has paid while running a global empire.
But the biggest upset came on Tuesday, as he registered a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio. He amassed at least 290 electoral votes to 218 for Clinton, according to network projections.
Clinton had been widely assumed to be on course to make history as the first woman president in America’s 240-year existence.
– Supreme Court seat –
But Americans repudiated her call for racial and cultural unity, opting instead for a leader who insisted the country was broken and that “I alone can fix it.”
Trump has an uneasy relationship with the broader Republican Party.
But it will have full control of Congress and he will be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, ensuring conservatism’s continued predominance among the black-robed justices.
– Slap to Obama –
The election result was also a brutal humiliation for the White House incumbent, who for eight years has repeated the credo that there is no black or white America, only the United States of America.
On the eve of the election, Obama told thousands of people in Philadelphia that he was betting on the decency of the American people not to back Trump’s dark and divisive vision.
Instead, America’s first black president will be succeeded by a candidate who received the endorsement — albeit unsought — of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.