‘Biden Can Restore Balance for Democracies’

Joe Biden’s election victory could present a moment of opportunity on a range of issues, according to many of the submissions made by members of seventeen leading global think tanks to Council of Councils (CFR). However, many warn that both U.S. and global institutions will be put to the test in the years ahead, in part due to domestic forces.

STEVEN BLOCKMANS: Democracy has been in retreat in many parts of the world. Reports by Freedom House and other watchdog groups show a decline of democratic freedoms for fourteen straight years and a surge in the number of elected authoritarians. The combination of populism and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the decline of the post–World War II world order. A Biden presidency will help restore a balance of powers and could help reboot globalization.

U.S. democracy has survived its experiment with protofascism and will become stronger in the next four years. This is a boon for democratic forces worldwide. Recent developments have shown that democratically elected leaders will try to use majoritarian rule to curb freedoms, overstep constitutional limits, protect the interests of their cronies, and recycle themselves through seemingly free and fair elections. Even if the Biden presidency is slowed by radical conservatism, it is expected to strike up alliances to shore up America’s international role and pressure illiberal and undemocratic leadership in other countries. This is good news.

A Biden presidency will seek to restore America’s status as a constructive presence within multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Health Organization (WHO). That may go a long way toward restoring faith in some of the pillars of the world order that have been battered by the Donald J. Trump administration’s unabashed unilateralism.

Steven Blockmans is Director, Center for European Policy Studies (Belgium)

The original (full) comment appeared as part of the “Biden and the World: Global Perspectives on the U.S. Presidential Election” Global Memos –briefs by the Council of Councils that gather opinions from global experts on major international developments.