On 6 January 2020, the world stood frozen, eyes glued on television screens and social media as viewers reeled from violent images of a riot gone out of control. In Washington D.C., the capital of the United States of America and the very heart of American democracy, hundreds of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol with guns blazing and flags waving. Their goal: to “stop the count” of electoral votes from the 50 states and the District of Columbia that would officially elect Joseph Biden into the presidency.
This right-wing insurrection instilled dismay and disbelief across the globe, forcing a deeper crack into an already volatile political climate – locally, nationally, and globally. While some protestors broke into Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi’s office, kicking up their feet on her desk and lauding their break-in with phone snapshots, others shattered glass doors with axes and stole historical podiums.
Through the rampage, world leaders broke their silence, openly reacting to the misery of events unfolding and Trump’s audacity in still refusing to concede the presidency. A furious call to condemn the protests from world leaders alike showcased a stand for the last remnants of American democracy.
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In a now-viral tweet, Simon Coveney – the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister – posted the following: “Shocking & deeply sad scenes in Washington D.C. – we must call this out for what it is: a deliberate assault on Democracy by a sitting President & his supporters, attempting to overturn a free & fair election! The world is watching!” He ended his post by hoping for a restoration of calm after the right-wing insurrection ended.
In his televised press conference the day after the right-wing insurrection, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the assault on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump supporters. He stated he was “very pleased that the president-elect has now been duly confirmed in office,” ensuring the preservation of democracy.
From his official Twitter account, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy posted how he was “following what is happening in #Washington with great concern. Violence is incompatible with the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms.” In the same tweet, he mentioned how he was “confident in the strength and robustness of the institutions of the United States.”
From his official @SwedishPM Twitter account, Swedish PM Löfven described the right-wing insurrection as “deeply worrying” and as “an assault on democracy.” He deemed President Trump and several members of Congress as bearing “substantial responsibility for developments.” He called for the respect of the democratic election process.
The Prime Minister asked President Donald Trump to recognize Joseph Biden “as the next president today,” and he condemned the images coming out of Washington, labelling them as “horrible.”
During a recorded meeting with conservatives, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, expressed her utter shock at the right-wing insurrection that occurred at the U.S. Capitol. She stated how she and the conservatives “saw the unsettling pictures of the storming of the U.S. Congress yesterday evening.”
In her speech, she commented on how President Trump needed to accept his loss and take responsibility for failing to concede. She cemented the importance of safekeeping democracy by mentioning how “a ground rule of democracy is that after elections there are winners and losers. Both have their role to play with decency and responsibility so that democracy itself remains the winner.”
Tweeting from his social media account, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain ratified the presidential victory of Joe Biden after a so-called “fateful day.” Sanchez promised that Spain would “work with the United States for a more just world and the triumph of democracy over extremism.”
In a three-minute-long statement (in the form of a press conference) released on Twitter, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a rundown of the right-wing insurrection. He mentioned that the universal idea of “one person, one vote” was completely undermined.
He stated that “France stands strongly, fervently, and resolutely with the American people and with all the people who want to choose their leaders to determine their own destinies and their own lives through free and democratic elections.” He lingered on the political relationship between France and the United States, two nations rooted in democracy.
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, tweeted about the “very distressing” scenes at the Capitol. He condemned the acts of violence and called for the peaceful transfer of government to preserve “the great American democratic tradition.”
Jacinda Ardern tweeted how she was watching the right-wing insurrection taking place in the United States and shared the same sentiment as many of her friends in America – that what is occurring is wrong.
She stated the following: “Democracy – the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob. Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are by the events of today. I have no doubt democracy will prevail.”
Justin Trudeau tweeted that Canadians were “deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, [their] closest ally and neighbour.” He followed that statement by mentioning how violence would “never succeed in overruling the will of the people.” He made a lasting point that American democracy must be upheld and that it would be, under any circumstance.
A usually neutral political leader, the Mexican president was reluctant to comment on the right-wing insurrection at the Capitol; he implicitly reiterated his position that his government does not meddle in the affairs of other countries. He condemned the banning of President Trump’s social media accounts, claiming that he doesn’t like censorship. He kept mum on rejecting the storming of the Capitol.
CENTRAL AMERICA & SOUTH AMERICA
On behalf of the country of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza commented on the breach of the U.S. Capitol as a “regrettable episode.” He also apologized for “the political polarization and spiral of violence” seen in the United States. His statement can be found on his Twitter account.
Once again, in a statement on Twitter, the Chilean president condemned the scene in Washington; following his stricture of the event, he said he “trusts in the solidity of U.S. democracy to guarantee the rule of law.”
In writing a solidarity message in English on his Twitter account, Colombian President Ivan Duque expressed how “Colombia has full confidence in the stability of the institutions of the United States of America as well as its respect for democracy and the rule of law, values shared by our countries since the beginning of our republic.” He further rejected the acts of violence seen at the Capitol.
Using the platform of Twitter like other political leaders, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno officially condemned the acts of violence perpetrated in Washington. He declared “the United States’ traditional rule of law must be respected, the institutional structures, and the guarantee of due process.”
The Peronist leader of Argentina also condemned the “serious acts of violence” that occurred in Washington. He expressed support for now future President Joe Biden, trusting in a peaceful transition of power that keeps in mind the popular will.
Unlike the statements of hope other world leaders shared, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asserted the “brittle and weak” foundations of western democracy. His speech was broadcasted on state television. He called Trump “an unhealthy leader,” who had “tainted his country’s reputation and credibility.”
Because of Trump’s inability to concede his position, he “disrupted U.S. relations with the entire world.” Rouhani was not afraid to speak the truth in mentioning the cracks Trump made himself in the already fragile political bedrock through this right-wing insurrection.
Despite being one of Trump’s closest political confidantes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “vigorously condemned” the riot, deeming the “rampage at the Capitol yesterday” as a “disgraceful act.”
SOUTH & EAST ASIA
Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had a field day with the chaos happening in the United States. Their statement was a warning to America with China invoking the incident as sparking “deep reflection” among the lawmakers in the Capitol, considering how they galvanized the pro-democracy moment in Hong Kong.
It cannot be forgotten that, in June 2019, when Hong Kong residents partook in a peaceful anti-government protest, Nancy Pelosi called the movement “a beautiful sight to behold.” China’s caustic statement to the insurrection in Washington was a taste of America’s own medicine, as the nation was once hypocritical in denouncing the protests then and can barely handle their own unrest at home.
Chinese media called the right-wing insurrection a “beautiful sight to behold.”
Zahid Hafeez Choudhri took a much more neutral approach to the infiltration. He told reporters he hoped the situation would soon normalize and that it would not impact the democratic process. However, he did not mention that Pakistan, as a country, condemned the right-wing insurrection.
The Prime Minister of India was distressed to see news of the right-wing insurrection, specifically mentioning the rioting and violence in Washington D.C. Modi called for the “peaceful transfer of power.”
In a brief interview with reporters, Kato Katsuonobu could only say that Japan is hoping for a peaceful transfer of power in America.
Joseph Wu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed regret over the right-wing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, saying that Taiwanese people in Washington should remain on high alert. He could only be sorry about the incident and announce that they would closely monitor the situation. No other comments were made from the government directly other than they rue the insurrection.
Emmanuel Macron famously stated how “this is NOT America” to the failed right-wing insurrection. But, in light of recent events, this is America – or at least what it has become. It doesn’t take Childish Gambino’s political tune, “This is America,” to viscerally tell the world about gun violence and racial tensions in the nation that has caused election gripes.
Insolent violence has wreaked havoc on American democracy many times way before this right-wing insurrection came to be, and it’s not certainly the first, and potentially not the last, time world leaders will continue to rebuke domestic terrorism and stand for democracy.
The people, like many world leaders, can only hope that a peaceful and democratic transition of power is on the horizon, and a new presidential era will begin. Our will must be protected at all costs, as well as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.