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Trump's in... So what happens next?


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Donald Trump's somewhat unexpected victory in the US election doesn't mean that things will change straight away. With a long process of negotiation and transfer of power ahead, Trump will not assume the presidency until early next year. So what next?

The transition of power

President Obama today congratulated Trump over the phone and congratulated him on his election win. The two also arranged a meeting at the White House on Thursday, during which they will discuss the transfer of power - which does not happen immediately after the election, unlike in the UK.

If all goes as expected Trump is likely to be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on 20th January 2017, when Obama's term will end. Until then, he will be recognised as President-elect.

Over the next two months, he willl have to recruit staff to fill key positions at the White House and other national offices controlled by the President, including the Office of Policy Development, the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council.

Obama and the current congress will now be known as "lame ducks", meaning that their successors have been identified. Although Congress itself will be undergoing reshuffling while leadership positions are filled, being a "lame duck" may actually allow Obama more legislative freedom in the final days of his presidency, as Congress is still free to vote on and approve legislation from Obama and some members may now be more willing to vote on bills that they may not have considered when running for re-election.

The world reacts

World leaders have been congratulating Trump, albeit while keeping a careful eye on the language they are using. In Canada, a country which has traditionally relied on keeping its relations with the US predictable and maintaining free trade, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose his words carefully - wary of the protectionist discourse espoused by Trump during the electoral campaign, including his threat to tear up the free trade deal between the two countries.

South American countries inducing Peru, Chile, Brazil and Colombia have also sent cautious congratulations - the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that they were planning to sign up to is now likely to be scrapped as Trump has already declared his opposition to the agreement.

European leaders have also reacted with caution. French and German ministers warned about the unpredictability of the President-elect. Theresa May took a more optimistic tone, saying that "special relationship" between the UK and the US would continue to endure, but condemning Trump's remarks on radicalisation in London. Many European politicians who were critical of Trump did not expect this victory.

Russia, a controversial power after Clinton and US intelligence agencies alleged it had attempted to influence the election campaign, accepted the result somewhat more positively. Speaking in the Kremlin, Putin said that Russia was ready to restore "fully fledged relations" and welcomed the suggestion that US imposed sanctions over the country's annexation of Crimea could be lifted.

An increasingly fragile economy?

Global markets have varied wildly in the wake of Trump's win. The Mexican Peso reached its lowest level against the dollar in over two decades last night - perhaps due to Trump's ambition to build a border wall and send Mexicans living in the US back to their home country, while the DOW lost over 500 points.

However the post-election picture may now be looking more positive. Many US Markets, including the DOW and the S&P500 have opened with no losses, while shares in plant companies rose in anticipation of Trump's infrastructure plan. These short term signals will be influenced by the policy direction Trump sets out over the next few days - as one financial expert put it, the "unifying Trump" seen in his victory speech could encourage calm on the markets and increase the value of government bonds, but the protectionist "anti-trade" Trump seen during the campaign could cause shares to fall further as the US market is closed off to global entrants.

Much of the path ahead for Trump currently remains uncertain. As staff and advisers are appointed over the next few days, we are likely to get more of an idea of his policy direction and how he will approach political issues. But, given the unpredictable nature of the Trump campaign, we may have to wait until he enters the White House to find out.

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