What If Trump Won't Go? Europe Preparing for the Worst in Washington

Concern is growing in the European Union that Donald Trump might refuse to recognize the election results if he loses. Preparations are underway for the worst-case scenario.
A horror scenario is making the rounds these days in both Berlin and Brussels: Should the outcome of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3 be close, incumbent Donald Trump could declare himself the winner when polls close, even if he is behind in the vote count. He could prematurely and unlawfully claim the presidency.

What would happen then?

One could imagine a scenario in which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rushes to congratulate the "re-elected" U.S. president on election night, followed by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and maybe even Russian President Vladimir Putin. Soon, though, the first congratulations from Europe might find their way to the White House, from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, for example, or his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki.

Should a constitutional crisis in fact develop in the United States following the election, there are widespread concerns in Europe that the EU could once again be deeply divided.

Presidential elections in the U.S. are always tense times for foreign policy experts in European capitals. Foreign Ministry staffers run through various scenarios for what the election result might mean for their country and for the European Union as a whole. The platforms of the two candidates are examined for commonalities and potential pitfalls, for areas of convergence and places where discussion might be fruitful. It is all quite routine.