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- Watch the full interview below
Even the Covid-19 pandemic has not been able to bridge the deep divisions the Presidential election has revealed in the United States society, Professor Robert Patman says.
The University of Otago foreign affairs specialist said it was ‘‘curious’’ voters had not held President Donald Trump’s administration more accountable for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 US citizens.
‘‘When you consider that more Americans have died from Covid-19 in eight months than all the battlefield casualties . . . in the post-1945 period . . . it has hardly been the emphatic win the Democrats might have hoped for,’’ Prof Patman told Global Insight, the ODT’s fortnightly foreign affairs video show.
The close and fraught election to decide whether Republican candidate Trump or Democrat candidate Joe Biden would be 46th president of the US - with both sides now heading for the courts - showed the US was ‘‘very deeply divided’’, Patman said.
Trump has won more votes than in 2016, but Biden has received an even larger number, giving him a 2% lead in the popular vote.
‘‘I think the polarisation of America . . . has become even more stark because there are less third party challengers who are credible in this election.’’
Prof Patman says Trump’s call for vote counting to be stopped is of ‘‘dubious legality’’.
Biden, if confirmed as president, would have a Democrat-majority House of Representatives but would likely face a Republican-majority Senate. This would not be an insurmountable problem for Biden who has an effective bipartisan track record, Prof Patman said.
‘‘He’s used to working with people across the aisle.’’
New Zealand would not have an identical perspective to that of the US, no matter who was president. But the Jacinda Ardern-led Labour government would find it much easier to work with a Biden administration, Prof Patman said.
Two things pointed to that.
Biden had indicated he would use existing frameworks to handle international disputes.
Secondly, Biden had said he would lead an energy ‘‘paradigm shift’’ to avoid irreversible consequences of climate change.
‘‘Biden said we do not have any alternative but to energetically embrace the change.
‘‘On that basis . . . there’s a much stronger basis for co-operation.’’