US Elections: Lacking Power and Authority

The choice of leadership for the world’s most powerful nation has been difficult and divisive. Governing effectively under such circumstances will require conciliation and cooperation. There will probably also be pressure for changes to the system that has produced such an unprecedented result.

The World Today
Published 1 January 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 3 minute READ

Nigel Bowles

Fellow, St. Anne's College, Oxford University

Mandates are rather rare in US politics, and there is not now even the hint of one: never before has so close a Presidential position of perfect balance in the Senate, and a tiny majority in the House.

With the question of who is to be President-elect settled, the overwhelmingly important matter for the United States and the world with which it interacts political and commercially is whether the separated system of government can work in the public interest. The answer depends to an exceptional degree on the conduct not only of the new President but of both political parties’ leaders in Congress.

Slender advantage

Whilst the Republicans have retained control of both chambers, their majority has been cut slightly in the House. A Bush victory leaves the Senate balanced at 50-50. Only casting the vote of his Vice-President Dick Cheney will enable Republicans to win pure party-line votes.

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