Nov 13, 2020 - World

Nearly the whole world considers Biden president-elect

Data: Axios research; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: Axios research; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

With China belatedly congratulating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their election victory on Friday, the list of countries still declining to acknowledge Biden's victory is getting very short.

State of play: Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Russia's Vladimir Putin are among the very few world leaders who say they're waiting for President Trump's legal challenges to play out. North Korea's Kim Jong-un is in a slightly larger group — those who've declined to comment on the results either way.

How it happened: Congratulatory messages began to flow in almost immediately after U.S. networks called the election for Biden last Saturday.

  • Some leaders with close ties to Trump — including Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan — took a bit longer to acknowledge Biden's win.
  • China's foreign ministry initially declined to congratulate Biden, but on Friday a spokesperson said Beijing "respects the choice of the American people."

The holdouts: The Kremlin said it would wait for an "official announcement" before commenting. Russian media have played up the idea of democratic chaos in America.

  • López Obrador, who himself lost a contested election in 2006 and was infuriated when foreign leaders congratulated his opponent, has said it "not up to us" to determine who won. He may also be wary of provoking Trump.
  • Bolsonaro, who embraced the label of "Trump of the Tropics," continues to refer to Biden as a "candidate."
  • Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko called the election "a disgrace for all democracy" and suggested they might have to be re-run.

Outliers: Iran's leaders have not formally congratulated Biden, but they have acknowledged his victory (and gloated over Trump's loss).

  • Slovenia is an odd case. Prime Minister Janez Janša initially congratulated Trump, and has since doubled down. But the president and other officials have congratulated Biden.

Worth noting: It's highly possible that some countries for which I couldn't find a statement have actually congratulated Biden.

What to watch: Biden has been returning calls to world leaders who offered their congratulations, beginning with Canada's Justin Trudeau.

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