Trump Or Biden: 15 World Leaders, Who They Are Rooting For

Pick your presidential poison
Pick your presidential poison

Every U.S. election carries consequences beyond America's borders. But Nov. 3 stands out for multiple reasons: a lethal pandemic has killed more than one million people across the world, once thriving economies are in tatters, U.S. isolationism has created an international power vacuum that is allowing right-wing autocrats to thrive across continents. And then, there's Trump.

What's at stake: Having become a de facto leader for many of the world's populists, Trump has recently signalled that after the election on Nov. 3, an eventual transition of power in the case of his defeat might not be peaceful. Yes, democracy itself is on the line. For this and many other reasons, the world's eyes have focused on the U.S. campaign — and that includes presidents and prime ministers everywhere.

Clues and confessions: Of course definitive conclusions about whether a world leader favors Joe Biden or Donald Trump are hard to come by: diplomacy and the sheer fact that they will have to be prepared to work with either man induces many to hide their cards. Still, some have left breadcrumbs (or explicit statements) behind, and others we can quite easily surmise. We followed them to bring you our best bet about whether top world leaders are leaning more to Team Trump or Team Biden.


We all remember that viral schoolteacher-telling-off-a-naughty-student photo at the G7 Summit in 2018.

Photo: Reuters/Handout

Relations between Angela Merkel and Donald Trump have only gone downhill since — hitting a new low over the summer with Trump's decision to withdraw about 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany. And though digs from the ever-composed Chancellor have so far been of the indirect kind (urging people to not rely on "fakes over facts", or more recently warning that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic couldn't be led "with lies and disinformation") Merkel has made very little mystery of her disdain for Trump's swashbuckling way of leading his country.

So would Angie like American voters to give Trump das Boot? Like 76% of her fellow Germans, there's a good chance that ja, she would.

THE VERDICT: Team Biden.


A month ago, when asked about his (not so good) ratings among Indian Americans, Trump's mind went straight to the home country: "We have great support from India, we have great support from Prime Minister Modi. I would think that the … Indian people would be voting for Trump."

It's true that Modi and Trump are in sync. As Sushil Aaron wrote in The Wire: "Trump has, in effect, fashioned a new form of international order, marked by American distraction and detachment from the world. And in doing so he has created a space and a climate where right-wing authoritarian rulers elsewhere can thrive." And it's hard to deny that Modi fits that bill, much like Trump, pushing the most basic limits on democratic rule on a nearly daily basis.

THE VERDICT: Team Trump.


During a grape harvest in Jastrebarsko, Zoran Milanović, the president of Croatia, did not mince words as he spoke surrounded by foreign diplomats including the U.S. ambassador. Milanović denounced comparisons made between him and President Trump, saying "I consider it an insult. I neither encourage violence against minorities nor support white supremacists. What is similar here?" He said Trump has ruined the U.S."s reputation and he much more relates to Joe Biden, particularly his working-class background and Catholic faith. And he didn't seem concerned about stating his opinions: "Some will say that I should be careful about what I say, because they will hold it against us. But that's the only way to go."

THE VERDICT: Team Biden.


If you remember the bully in second grade who pushed you out of the way to be on the front row in the class photo, there's a good chance Montenegro Prime Minister Duško Marković remembers too.

THE VERDICT: Team Biden.


Beyond the obvious similarities — questionable hairstyles and the pretence to incarnate the will-of-the-people — there is more nuance in the relationship between Boris Johnson and Trump. In 2017, Johnson said he thought Trump was doing "fascinating stuff." Policy-wise, Trump has been a vocal supporter of Brexit, which is at the core Johnson's entire political project. On a visit to London before becoming a presidential candidate, Biden admitted that "Had I been a British citizen, I would have voted against leaving … U.S. interests are diminished with Great Britain not an integral part of Europe." An existential threat to British isolationism and its hero.

Still, a closer look has shown Johnson carefully distancing himself from the U.S. president over the past two years. After Trump publicly endorsed Johnson, the British PM rebuffed him by saying it was "best for neither side to be involved in the other's election campaigns." Johnson also earned some sympathy support after showing some humility in his struggle to recover from COVID-19 — very different from Trump's. A recent report by the Times of London even suggested Johnson and his team were secretly "desperate" for Joe Biden to beat Trump.

THE VERDICT: Team Biden.


By all appearances, it's a Western Hemisphere love story. Trump said he loves how Bolsonaro uses the term "fake news' and attacks the media. Bolsonaro enjoys being called the "Trump of the Tropics." Bolsonaro agreed to let the U.S. use space launch bases in Brazil for commercial reasons. What did he bring home in return? A MAGA cap, the Brazilian press joked at the time. And in fact, Bolsonaro has worn a Trump capseveral times since the episode. Try that on for size ...

Photo: Screenshot/O Globo

THE VERDICT: Team Trump.


Trump has been a boon for Benjamin Netanyahu's aggressively nationalist policies, endorsing Israel's illegal expansion into the West Bank and Golan Heights. The U.S. even broke with international agreements and diplomacy to recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The "thank you" card? Netanyahu named a whole settlement after Trump …

THE VERDICT: Team Trump.


"Some in Tehran believe that if the country can survive Donald Trump, it will have earned itself immunity, like a patient or an evolved microbe," Hamed Mohammadi wrote recently in Persian-language media Kayhan London. Much of the crisis revolves around the 2015 nuclear pact the regime made with Western powers, which Trump pulled the U.S. away from in 2018, introducing new sanctions for the country. Biden has recently lambasted Iran's human rights violations, a sign that negotiations might be uphill even under a different U.S. president. Still, Khameini can hope a return of the Democrats to the White House could help salvage the 2015 pact and bring some much needed relief to his economy.

THE VERDICT: Team Biden.


THE VERDICT: Team Trump, duh.


While the Philippines has taken a more active role in preventing the propagation of Covid, the men's common leadership style is hard to deny. And while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has complained about U.S. hypocrisy, ill-treatment and ageing weapons, he said back in February that Donald Trump is "a good president and he deserves to be re-elected."

THE VERDICT: Team Trump.


The Kingdom has worked hand-in-hand with administrations from both parties for decades. Still Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seem to have made rather heavy bets on each other, beginning with Trump making Riyadh his first foreign destination after becoming president. Bob Woodward's new book Rage reports that Trump protected the Saudi Crown Prince after the assassination and dismembering of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, with the U.S. president reportedly saying: "I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop." And if we keep in mind that after Khashoggi's murder, Trump bypassed Congress to sell roughly $8 billion in arms to the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates, Trump's verbal promise for a "strong defense" has likely secured the Saudi king's full support too.

THE VERDICT: Team Trump.


While President Mnangagwa once welcomed Trump with open arms, we are unsure if the invitation still stands. However, with upwards 85% of Zimbabweans facing unemployment, Mnangagwa might still have his hopes on recreating friendly relations — by offering Trump land to build a state-of-the-art golf resort, for instance?

THE VERDICT: Team Trump.


Look, how would you feel about a foreign president saying your country is full of "horrible people"? A president that your regional enemy has worked hard to see elected?

Zelensky & Trump in 2019 — Photo: UNGA/Wikimedia Commons

Ukrainians ache to see the end of the Trump presidency, and they have good reason. Apart from the insults (yes, he really said that) and the stain of impeachment that began with a telephone call to the newly elected Ukrainian president, Trump has acted as a multiplier for the existential dangers since the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

THE VERDICT: Team Biden.


Before the 2016 U.S. election, Orban was the first European prime minister to publicly endorse Donald Trump, whom he said he liked because of his anti-terrorism proposals and his opposition to "democracy export" in less democratic parts of the world.

If that sounded ominous at the time, it sounds even malicious in hindsight. In the last four years, Orban has hollowed out Hungarian democracy as best as he could. The EU has started proceedings against him for everything from violation of media freedoms to stripping minorities of their rights to manipulating the electoral system and restricting academic and religious freedoms.

In September, Orban — now in his fourth term overall, the third in a row — made clear he wants four more years of Trump. "What the president represents is good for Central Europe, which is why we are rooting — at least me, personally — for him to win the election," he said.

THE VERDICT: Team Trump.


This one is easy, right? Trump spent a large part of his first three years in office challenging China on trade, and the fourth year on blaming China for the coronavirus. Xi Jinping certainly doesn't appreciate the nasty words, or the more recent cozying up to Taiwan. A Biden victory, however, won't be smooth sailing for Beijing as the Democrats now widely agree that an adjustment on trade and other matters was indeed necessary. And the Republicans will pounce if there's any sign of going soft on China. And even if Xi doesn't have to worry about reelection (recent signs point to him planning to serve for life), it's always nice to have a bête orange from abroad to rile up domestic support.

THE VERDICT: Team Biden.

Al Jazeera is a state-funded broadcaster in Doha, Qatar, owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network. Initially launched as an Arabic news and current-affairs satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the Internet and specialty television channels in multiple languages.
The Wire is a news website available in English and Hindi, was founded in 2015 in New Delhi. It is published by the Foundation for Independent Journalism (FIJ), a non-profit Indian company.
Kayhan is a Persian-language, London-based spinoff of the conservative daily of the same name headquartered in Tehran. It was founded in 1984 by Mostafa Mesbahzadeh, the owner of the Iranian paper. Unlike its Tehran sister paper, considered "the most conservative Iranian newspaper," the London-based version is mostly run by exiled journalists and is very critical of the Iranian regime.
Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London, UK. It was founded in 1851 and is now a division of Thomson Reuters. It transmits news in English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Urdu, and Chinese.
Founded in 1877, The Washington Post is a leading U.S. daily, with extensive coverage of national politics, including the historic series of stories following the Watergate break-in that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. After decades of ownership by the Graham family, the Post was purchased in 2013 by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
German public international broadcaster
O Globo is a nationwide Brazilian newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro. It was founded in 1925 and is one of the cornerstones of the media conglomerate Organizações Globo, led by businessman Roberto Marinho.
Premium stories from Worldcrunch's own network of multi-lingual journalists in over 30 countries.
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.

But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!