US election

‘Like Brexit all over again but it’s the US who screwed up’

'Like Brexit all over again but it's the US who screwed up'
Election Night at the US Embassy in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
Most American voters in Sweden, where the overwhelming majority had thrown their support behind Hillary Clinton, described feelings of dejection as Donald Trump defied expectations in the US election.

“I am quite disappointed, but I am also not too surprised. If how much America still hates women and minorities could be measured by electoral votes, then this is pretty telling,” Shawna Birnbaum, 30, from Los Angeles told The Local as Trump began to pull ahead in the race at 6.30am Stockholm time.

“It's like the Brexit referendum all over again except it's the US who screwed up this time.”

Billy McCormac, a former Republican activist who voted for Clinton and lives in Sweden, pondered what kind of country he would meet the next time he visits his home nation.

“How am I going to go home and explain this to my children? They’re American citizens – what does this mean for them? Next time we go home to the States, what kind of America will be waiting for us?” he said to The Local.

“I think this is one of the saddest days in our history. I feel like we as a nation have turned our back on everything that the founding fathers meant us to be, and we now are going to be more divided than ever. What is our role in the world going to be? Are we going to have a role in the world anymore? Are we going to completely isolate ourselves from the world and each other? It’s a terribly, terribly sad day,” he added.

Erin Bonnier, who runs the website and podcast Stockholm Lokal, said she had been up since 4am following the election coverage and had initially believed Clinton would win a decisive victory for the Democrats.

“It's definitely a shock,” she said. “Clearly the US is divided and what is disappointing is that we potentially will have a candidate that promotes more division and fear, which is exactly what we don't need.”

“It's unfortunate that programmes put in place like Obamacare will potentially be dismantled and we will go back to ground zero. This is a major wakeup call for Americans. Just like Brexit, people no longer want the status quo… Hillary represents the establishment.”

David Lozano, who lives in western Sweden, said: “I'm a Californian that has been living in Borås for the past two and a half years and have to say, I'm disappointed but not shocked. Ever since the primaries ended I knew it would only be a coin toss if he became a president or not…”

The Democrats' Election Night Party at Hard Rock Café in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

But not everyone shared their views. Californian Steven Romero, 65, who lives in Skurup in southern Sweden told The Local he was “ecstatic”. “I love being right. I called it last year. The best thing is that it's the people who are voting, not Democrats or Republicans,” he said.

“People aren't working, no matter what the numbers say. They gave Obama a chance but nothing happened. It comes down to economics. (…) Trump is a jerk, his personality sucks, but at least he's honest. People need a strong leader. He's built high-rises all over the world, he's not just a talking head.”

He said he believed a Trump presidency could pave the way for other self-described anti-establishment politicians such as those of the anti-immigration party the Sweden Democrats.

“You're going to see it all through Europe now, it has already happened in Britain. I love Sweden, but you can't keep helping people to where it hurts you. Look at the way we treat our elderly, it's atrocious.”

Zachary Price, who is from Hawaii and studies in Uppsala, voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, but told The Local shortly after 7am Swedish time that he was surprised and disappointed.

“At this moment, I am very surprised that Donald Trump might be the next president of the United States. I will not be back home until eight months into his presidency. I am disappointed in the direction that the United States is going in. Although I didn't vote for Former Secretary Clinton, I would have rather seen her in office.”

Chris Travers is from Washington State and currently lives in Landskrona in southern Sweden. Speaking to The Local at around noon, he said had chosen not to vote in the election, but added that he thought Trump's wife Melania Trump may make a good impact on his native country in her future role as First Lady.

“The world is changing and Americans want change. While I don't think Donald Trump will have a significant positive effect on US policy, I do think that the fact that his wife is from a former second world country which today has a much stronger focus on family businesses than we do in the US may be a good thing, and that she might make a positive difference,” he said.

Emil Koseoglu, 19, from Texas, cast his vote for the first time in an election, with the Democrats Abroad in Gothenburg. He told The Local: “I'm terribly worried for the future of not only my home country, but the rest of the world.”

“In the beginning of this election I genuinely thought that Trump didn't have a chance of winning and that the better option was clear as day, but sadly I was wrong. A win for him is going to be catastrophic for the progression of the United States as a whole and even worse for the immediate issue – climate change.”

Are you an American living in Sweden? Email The Local to share your thoughts on the election.

Article by Emma Löfgren and Lee Roden.