Nigel Farage and Donald Trump met following the Republican's election victory/ Photo Credit: UKIP

The win of Donald Trump and Brexit have vast similarities, yet one big difference.

In 2016 two totally unanticipated political results have occurred. A year ago only a few could even imagine that Trump would become the next president of the United States, and that British people would vote to exit the European Union. In both cases, the polls were predicting the opposite of what was actually voted, calling into question the validity of the polling system.

One of the reasons for the two surprising outcomes is that many people were confident that Clinton would win, and the UK would remain to the EU. Therefore, as a result, many did not bother to vote. Specifically, the turnout for the British referendum was 72.2%, while in the American elections only the 56.9 % of the voting-eligible population cast a ballot. Low turnouts are indisputably a major problem that must be faced.

Drawbacks of the American voting system, for instance the fact that voters don’t get automatically registered as in other countries, account for part of the issue; however the most leading factor is the absence of enthusiasm towards political involvement.

Both Americans and British wanted change

Voting turnout in the US is traditionally low, so this wasn’t the root of the surprising outcome. The reason behind the result and the most significant similarity with the British referendum is that voters wanted a change. Both Brexit and Trump’s political campaigns were populist movements, promising to bring something different- frightening, yet different.

A large portion of voters in both countries was tired of the established politicians, such as Clinton and Cameron, who seemed to them as a continuity of the current sorrows. The problem is that in both cases people did not understand that the change they were voting for could be even worse compared to the current situation.

The main difference between Brexit and Trump’s win

Brexit already had severe consequences for the British economy. The British pound hit lows unseen in more than 30 years and continues to devaluate. Most major investment banks consider moving overseas, which will seriously weaken one of the most significant industries of the British economy. On the other side, the election of Donald Trump arguably won’t bring such catastrophic results.

I doubt that Trump will manage to make reality even half of the scary things he promised during his campaign. Indisputably, he will not build a wall, nor will he ban Muslims. As it was shown during his first speech after the elections, he already has lowered his profile and most likely will not proceed to any excessive actions.

Therefore, it is pointless at this point to protest against him. Americans should indeed unify and try to learn from this election, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes, just as many British people have already understood their mistake to vote for Brexit. This could only be achieved by debating and explaining to those with radical views how things really are and not by protesting. The most calamitous result that Trump’s win could bring is a divided America. Preventing such an outcome is still in our hands.

Manos Makrygiannakis

Manos is an alumni of Yale Young Global Scholars and is currently studying Economics at UCL.

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