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9 November 2016

Donald Trump elected 45th President of the United States

One of the most controversial candidates in US history has defied predictions will enter the White House. 

By Julia Rampen

Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, has beaten Hillary Clinton to win the US Presidential election 2016 after securing the key battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, and expected to take Pennsylvania after almost all votes have been counted.

Making his victory speech in the early hours of the morning US time, Trump said Clinton had conceded to him on the phone. 

He said politics was “nasty and tough”, and in a surprisingly gracious speech, praised Clinton’s years of service and promised to unify the country.

Trump, a celebrity businessman, confounded polls and many within his own party to take the country’s top political prize. He built his campaign on a cocktail of anti-immigrant and anti-globalisation rhetoric, as well as a sustained personal attack on his rival. Ahead of the race, he predicted a win that would be “Brexit plus plus plus”. 

Several Republican grandees had disowned him because of his controversial comments, which included boasts of groping women and his description of Mexicans as “criminals”.

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Clinton, an experienced politician and former Secretary of State and First Lady, was the first female Presidential hopeful to get within reaching distance of the White House.

Before the night began, she was the favourite, with the pollsters FiveThirtyEight putting her chances as high as 65 per cent at the start of the week. Democrats hoped she would command high levels of support from Hispanic-American voters, who have been the target of much of Trump’s rhetoric.

Meanwhile, white working-class voters appear to have turned out in unexpectedly high numbers to back Trump. FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of exit polls found that 72 per cent of non-college-educated white men backed the Republican candidate. 

Clinton was also dogged by accusations of misconduct regarding her use of a private server for official emails while in office. Despite two exonerations by the FBI, Trump used the probe to attack her as “crooked Hillary Clinton”. 

In reaction to the news, the value of the dollar plummeted on international currency markets, and global markets were in turmoil. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index plunged 5.19 per cent overnight, while China’s Hang Seng index was down 2.89 per cent. UK markets are yet to open this morning. 

As the results turned against Clinton, Democrat rallies became subdued and many supporters were in tears. The news will also horrify “Never Trump” Republicans, who vowed to back another candidate because of his controversial views. Here are some of the main concerns of anti-Trump supporters.

Women’s rights under threat

The election of Trump, who has frequently made sexist comments about women and once declared women should be “punished” for abortion, is seen by some as the start of a gender war. According to the FiveThirtyEight analysis, Clinton won women by 12 points, Trump won men by 12 points. In the hours after polling opened, women have been flocking to the grave of the suffragette, Susan B Anthony. As President, Trump will be able to nominate judges to the Supreme Court, which has made landmark decisions on abortion and other rights issues.

Racial tension increases

Trump has frequently tapped into the rhetoric of the alt-right, from promoting “birtherism”, which questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, to calling Mexicans “rapists” and “bad hombres”. Where Trump has stopped, others have picked up. He was endorsed by David Duke, the white nationalist and former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 

A turn to protectionism

Social conservatives may nevertheless be concerned by Trump’s continued pledge to turn his back on free trade, even at the risk of starting a trade war with major economic powers like China, and move towards more domestic interventions. The Republican party has traditionally embraced economic liberalism and a smaller state. 

A shift in global politics

While Clinton was hawkish on Russia, Trump has notably been more sympathetic to its belligerent President, Vladimir Putin. He has also disavowed America’s traditional role as “the world’s policeman”. 

Recriminations in both parties

Although Clinton was dubbed “the most qualified ever” candidate to be President by the incumbent, Obama, her defeat will lead to soul-searching in a devastated Democratic party, as well as the question of whether a female candidate can ever overcome ingrained sexism to win. Meanwhile, Republicans like Paul Ryan, speaker of the US House of Representatives, have distanced themselves from Trump and must now come to terms with their new President. The party also faces a wider identity challenge, with Trump’s victory driven by a distinctly different platform to the traditional tenets of free trade and less state intervention. 

Democracy on the defensive

Trump has previously shown disdain for established pillars of democracy, such as the courts and the press, and suggested before his victory, when Clinton looked set to win, that he might not accept the election result.