Thursday, 6 May, 2021

Joe Biden’s Victory

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., more commonly known as Joe Biden, has won the US presidential election. It wasn’t a landslide as many had predicted but was enough to get the veteran democrat over the line and limit incumbent Donald Trump to a one-term presidency, making him the first American president since George Bush senior to leave office after the first term. Biden’s victory comes at a crucial time for America and the world. His country faces a serious lack of credibility. Under Trump, the US unilaterally left the multinational Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and imposed sanctions on Iran against the advice of some of its closest friends like France and Germany. The US left the Paris Climate Agreement and overturned many of its own environmental protection legislation. Most recently, it withdrew from the World Health Organisation at a time when the world is fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.
For his part, Biden promises to be different. He has repeatedly stated that his first moves as the 46th American president would be to reverse Trump’s detrimental policies, reorient the country towards its allies and once again establish it as a champion of democracy and human rights.
But, no matter how hard he tries, Biden will not be able to implement his programmes to the fullest extent, either domestically or internationally, if the Republican Party retains control of the Senate - something it is looking likely to do. Nevertheless, the presidency is a powerful executive position and having a liberal, progressive, experienced person in that role does bode well for the world, at least compared to the conservative hardliner that was Trump and his administration.
For Nepal though, Biden’s victory does not signal any major changes. He may be progressive but, at the same time, Biden is also a traditionalist who strongly believes in America’s leadership role in the world. He has also indicated that he will continue Trump’s line on China. So, he can be expected to react to any supposed instances of China trying to extend its influence in Nepal and elsewhere. Thus, the US will most likely stay the course on the Indo-Pacific strategy and seek to counter China in the region. We might see some changes in immigration though. The Trump administration resented immigration and was publicly hostile to immigrants. This had affected many Nepalis living in the country or trying to go there. The Electronic Diversity Visa (EDV) scheme was also cancelled for a time.
Biden will loosen up on migration and citizens of the countries like Nepal who might once again be able to travel to the country. But, as mentioned above, this depends on how much the Senate cooperates with him. Nepal has always maintained friendly relations with the US and has worked with both Republican and Democratic administrations on issues of mutual interest. We can hope that this will continue under President Biden as well.