Donald Trump was democratically elected

Background current

On November 3rd, the Americans elect a new president. For the Republicans, incumbent Donald Trump is running, for the Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Two women after they died in Washington D.C. on October 27, 2020. prematurely cast their vote in the US presidential election. Almost 80 million Americans have made use of early voting so far - more than in any previous US election. (& copy picture-alliance / AP)

Who is available for election?

In the 59th US presidential election, Donald Trump will run for Republicans and Joe Biden for Democrats. Jo Jorgensen (libertarians) and Howie Hawkins (Greens) are also running, but they are not given a chance due to the dominance of the two big parties.

In addition to the presidency, the United States Congress will also be re-elected on November 3rd: all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate are available for election. In addition, parliaments, governors and mayors are elected in individual states.

Donald Trump

The incumbent US President Donald Trump is running for a second term as a candidate for the Republican Party. The 74-year-old real estate trader from New York presents himself as a political outsider and pragmatic "deal maker" who, according to his own account, represents the interests of the average American.

In the last election in November 2016, Trump won the majority of the electorate in the electoral college (Electoral vote), but not the majority of the votes of the electorate (Public vote). When he was sworn in in January 2017, he was the first US president not to have previously served in the military or elected to political office.

In the four years he has been in office, Trump has only partially fulfilled his election promises. Among other things, he implemented a tax reform in 2017, which, with a volume of two trillion dollars, represents the largest package of tax breaks in US history. However, employees have hardly benefited from this. The wall that he wanted to build along the 3,144 kilometer long border with Mexico has so far stood 340 kilometers, most of which will replace existing border installations. Obama's health reforms have slowed Trump down, but not abolished them. Within one term, Trump had the opportunity to serve three of the nine posts on the United States Supreme Court (Supreme Court), the last time the conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett was appointed was on October 26, 2020. Conservatives thus have a clear majority in the Supreme Court.

Through his "America First" policy, Trump played a key role in alienating the US from its allies. One of his most striking foreign policy acts was the termination of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) with Russia, the termination of the so-called "Iran Deal", the ultimately failed negotiations with North Korea and the trade war with China. In addition, the US has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement and stopped making payments to international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

From the point of view of his opponents, Trump's populist political style has contributed to further dividing the country domestically, for example with regard to structural racism against blacks or how to deal with the corona pandemic.

Joe Biden

Trump's challenger and Democratic Party presidential candidate is Joe Biden. The 77-year-old from Pennsylvania was first introduced to the local community in 1970 New Castle County Council, comparable to a district council. Two years later, Biden won a Delaware state senatorial post in the congressional election. He took office in 1973 and held it until 2009.

In his 36 years as a member of the US Senate, he successfully introduced 42 legislative initiatives. He spoke out against the First Iraq War in 1991, but voted in favor of the US bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo War in 1999. He first advocated the Second Iraq War in 2003, but in 2007 opposed an increase in the US military on the ground .

Biden was Vice President under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. In this position he was largely involved in overcoming the economic and financial crisis. In 2019, he decided to run against Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Who are the "Running Mates"?

Acting Vice President Mike Pence, who is running again as a Republican candidate for the Vice Presidency. He was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 2000 and served as a member of parliament for twelve years. In 2012, Pence was elected governor of Indiana and took office in 2013. In the four years of his tenure, he distinguished himself through conservative positions: Pence is, among other things, anti-abortion and proponent of the right to gun ownership.

The Democratic candidate for vice presidency is Kamala Harris. The 56-year-old with Indian and Jamaican roots was born in the state of California. Not only would she be the first female vice president of the United States, but also the first Person of Color in this office. Harris is a lawyer and served as the California attorney general in 2010. In 2016 she was elected to the Senate.

Who can vote?

Almost 240 million people are eligible to vote in the November 3rd election. The exact regulations of the electoral law differ from state to state, because voting is a state matter in the USA.

Basically: Anyone who is over 18 years of age, is a US citizen and is resident in one of the 50 states or Washington D.C. is allowed to vote. Has. Soldiers or diplomats living abroad are also allowed to vote. Citizens of U.S. territories such as B. Puerto Rico are not allowed to vote.

In all states you have to register as a voter, in some states you can do this online, in others only in person. There are also different rules for applying for postal votes and the obligation to provide identification in the voting office.

Restrictions on the right to vote for felons (Felons) exists in all states except Maine and Vermont.

Even before the election, there was a relatively high turnout: By October 30, almost 80 million people had cast their votes by postal vote or on site.

How do you vote?

The road to the US presidential election is long. Several months before the election, the supporters of the two major parties determine their respective candidates in primary elections. These are held in summer at party congresses (National Conventions).

On election day - always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November - registered voters across the country cast their votes. However, they only elect the president indirectly.

(© Federal Agency for Civic Education)

Rather, they designate a so-called electoral college (Electoral College). There, the states are assigned a corresponding number of seats, depending on their population size. Who takes these seats is decided from state to state according to different rules - in most cases, however, according to majority voting and the principle of "The Winner Takes All". This means that even if a candidate wins only a slim majority of the votes, his or her party will be awarded all of the state's seats in the electoral college. Therefore it can happen that in the end a candidate wins the election who does not have the majority of the votes of the voters (Public vote) had received.

The electorate of a state meets in mid-December - to be precise: on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December - in their respective capital and cast their votes. The ballots will then be sent to Washington D.C. sent and counted.

Which topics are central to the election campaign?

Donald Trump entered the election campaign without a clearly defined program. Up until the beginning of 2020, he presented the overall positive economic situation with relatively low unemployment as a success of his presidency.

The Covid-19 pandemic, however, turned the situation on its head. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. Trump denied the danger posed by the virus and, in the eyes of many observers, reacted too late to the development of the infection. In absolute numbers, the USA is still the country with the most sick people and the most fatalities worldwide. There is no compulsory health insurance in the US health system; a health reform initiated by former President Barack Obama has been stopped by the current administration. As a result, many particularly poorer Americans still have no access to affordable health care.

Biden blamed Trump's crisis management for the high death toll and promised to introduce compulsory masks and other measures to contain the pandemic in the event of an election victory. He wanted to further expand Obama's health care reform and promised all Americans a free vaccination against the coronavirus - even those who currently have no health insurance.

In addition to the corona crisis, the debate about structural racism and police violence dominated in the USA in the 2020 election year. After the murder of the African American George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by a white police officer in Minneapolis, people in numerous cities in the United States joined the "Black Lives Matter" protest movement. Millions of people around the world showed their solidarity with the demonstrators. In some cases there were violent riots and looting. While Trump emphasized this aspect of the protests, Biden expressed understanding for the demonstrators and promised political measures to counter structural racism, including with regard to labor and social policy.

Hundreds of people demonstrate against racist police violence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the end of October, the 27-year-old African American Walter Wallace was shot there by police officers. (& copy picture-alliance / AP)

In foreign policy, Biden wants to return to international cooperation. In terms of climate policy, too, Biden is pursuing significantly different goals than Trump: among other things, the USA should become climate neutral by 2050.

Why is this choice important?

This year's US election will determine the course for the future of the USA. After four years under President Donald Trump, the country is deeply politically divided, observers believe that a common set of values ​​has eroded and trust in the functionality of democratic structures has reached a low point - not least because Trump himself deliberately had doubts about the legitimacy of democratic decision-making mechanisms such as the postal vote and to institutions - especially the national media - has sown. In 2016, the Democrats not only lost the presidential election, the majority of the US Senate is also made up of Republican senators, who recently supported landmark decisions such as Amy Coney Barrett's appeal to the Supreme Constitutional Court. However, the Democrats had a majority in the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections (Midterms) Recovered in 2018.

In states that recently traditionally voted republican or democratic, voters are more divided according to this year's polls, so that more states than before in this election than so-called Swing States apply, including the two populous states of Florida and Texas. A week before the election, Joe Biden is, according to most polls, between two and eight percentage points ahead of Donald Trump in terms of voter votes.

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