So much for US domestic politics as a model of orderly transitions of power. As the fraught 2020 election approaches, the United States itself poses the gravest threat to worldwide tranquility, at least in the estimation of Eurasia Group. The authors see real potential for a disputed presidential election – the results of which could prove globally destabilizing. They also fret about risks posed by the increasingly difficult relationship between the United States and China, and by Europe’s potentially more outspoken role in world affairs.
Uncertainty surrounding the US presidential election is the top global risk for 2020.
This is a dramatic departure. Eurasia Group has never considered American domestic politics a destabilizing factor globally – but in the polarized era of Donald Trump and his constant cries of “rigged” results, voters on both sides of the political aisle are primed to distrust the 2020 election result, no matter which way the vote goes. It’s not difficult to imagine a disputed election that’s decided not on election night but by the US Supreme Court, as with the Bush-Gore race of 2000.
While the foundations of US democracy will survive the chaos of 2020, anything less than a universally-accepted election result will affect Washington’s international relationships. US allies and enemies alike will question the president’s authority. South Korea, Japan and Taiwan will likely find themselves confused by mixed messages from Washington – particularly if Trump remains in office – and therefore consider distancing themselves from the United States. Unfriendly powers...