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US mid-term election augurs well for all

Nilratan Halder | November 09, 2018 00:00:00

The entire world waited with bated breath for the results of the American mid-term election. As expected, the Democratic Party has regained control of the House of Representatives by securing 230 out of 435 seats but failed to make any headway in to the Senate. Instead, it lost seats to the Republican Party. This too has not come as a surprise because regular elections held to 33 seats --alongside special elections to two seats -- out of a total 100, favoured the Republic. The Democrats had to defend 26 seats as against the Republican nine. Moreover, 10 of the seats the Democrats had to defend were in constituencies where Trump won in his presidential polls by huge margins.

This by all means is a mixed result. Those who thought a blue (blue being the colour of the Democrats) landslide in both wings of the Congress has been highly disappointed but regaining the control of the House by the Democrats is no mean achievement. After all, it has put a brake on President Trump's monopolistic exercise of executive power by taking advantage of the pliable Congress and Senate. The US president will have to deal with the lower house of representatives that is in favour of reviving some of the liberal social policies including Obamacare. Trump's hard-line immigration laws and cuts to several social programmes may even come under scrutiny. The so-called El Dorado turned into a hostile and forbidden land for people from across the world particularly from its underdeveloped parts. With the Democrats in full control of the Congress, Trump will now find it difficult to go ahead with his conservative policies and programmes including the trade war. He will have to work across the aisles on a bipartisan basis. But he will try to balance it by his party's majority in the Senate.

On the strength of the Congressional majority, the Democrats will be in a position to have a look into his administration too. Under the control of outspoken Trump antagonist Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee may start from where it left at the investigation into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Adam Schiff has vowed to have a closer look into the president's foreign financial transactions. President Trump may even face a torrid time with his controversial tax return on the home front. The Democrats may now use their power for revival of the proceedings and order witnesses to testify. Other members of the Trump administration accused of taking official actions for advancing business interests may as well be compelled to listen to the music.

Whether the outcomes of such investigations will be enough of a compelling reason for impeachment of the incumbent US president is too early to say. But one thing is clear if the Russian election-time connection exposes uglier truths, the possibility of initiation of such a move cannot be ruled out. Even if the development does not peak up to a crisis like this, there is a chance now that some of the president's hawkish international engagements may be reined in. The highly controversial move to rescind the intermediate ballistic treaty with Russia stands to jeopardise the entire world's security against the atomic weapons. With the Democrats in control of the Congress, America's retreat from the treaty may be halted.

True the US economy has done well under Trump but the gain may be temporary. The Greenback has become stronger because of the imposition of heavy import duty on a large number of Chinese goods. Already a number of countries including China, India, Pakistan and France have gone for an alternative transaction system where they will pay each other with their respective currencies. If countries everywhere agree to a common exchange currency or currencies other than dollar, the preeminent position of the US currency may be compromised.

The on-going trade war is not going to benefit anyone, ultimately. Moreover, such commercial frictions sow the seeds of future arms conflicts. It has turned out to be a good tiding that sober and liberal people will have enough influence and power to exercise on the president's aggressive moves. The Democrats will take over the Congress in two months' time. But already some Western countries have responded quite positively to the election results. Small countries like Bangladesh with business interests in US markets did not stand to lose much even if Trump had his way with no change in Congressional guards. Yet it would have created an atmosphere of uncertainty.

Such countries have become accustomed to the liberal market environment where they are at times treated favourably. Bangladesh tried hard to get the generalised system of preference (GSP) for its RMG in the US market without success. But Bangladesh has done a lot to improve the working conditions of its factories by this time. The safety issue has been reviewed but the buyers responsible for marketing products in their countries are not keen to raise the price to a reasonable level. A liberal Congress is expected to have a look into such issues linked to the well-being of the workers in less affluent countries. Accord and Alliance -the two Western buyers' platforms -could easily make a difference in the life of the workers simply by paying reasonably for products originated in countries like Bangladesh.


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