When Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the world’s populists cheered and quickly gained legitimacy from their common craziness. But even Trump’s closest allies couldn’t hold back on the horror at the Capitol on Wednesday as Trump’s power ebbed away.
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally party, urged her idol to intervene in the chaos, tweeting that Trump “must condemn what happened” even as she criticized the fact that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram had suspended the president’s accounts. “I consider that in a democracy, we have the right to protest and demonstrate, but peacefully,” she tweeted. “Any act of violence that aims to undermine the democratic process is unacceptable, and I was very shocked at the images on Capitol Hill.”
Italy’s opposition leader Matteo Salvini, who traveled to Philadelphia to glean inspiration from Trump’s campaign style, tried to distance himself from his former idol, saying he still liked the “idea” of Trump, but that what happened was a step too far. “Violence is never the solution, never,” he said. “Long live Freedom and Democracy, always and everywhere.”
Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party who often quotes the American president, described the MAGA insurrection as shocking. “The rule of law is stronger than violence,” he tweeted. “America stands for liberty and freedom, and democracy will always prevail. And the outcome of democratic elections should always be respected, whether you win or lose.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was last seen trying to forge a trade deal with the U.S., quickly abandoned his friend, calling the scenes “disgraceful” and calling on Trump to accept that he lost and must quit the White House.
“The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” he tweeted.
Johnson’s hardline law and order minister Priti Patel, who has previously defended Trump, told the BBC that his antagonistic comments “directly led” the mob to storm Congress.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has benefited from Trump’s tenure, described the scenes as “outrageous” and the government’s official Twitter account quoted him saying, “Lawlessness and violence are the opposite of the values we know Americans and Israelis cherish.”
Perhaps worried he had gone too far, Netanyahu later praised Trump for all he has done for Israel. “I want to thank President Trump and all of you in the administration for all you have done and are doing for peace,” he said in a statement. “You’ve made a real difference.”
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who has not shared the same enthusiasm for Trump, warned that if this could happen in America, no one was safe. “This is proof that, before political rivalry, we must agree on the rules of the game: the maintenance of the rule of law, respect for democratic procedures and respectful discourse,” he tweeted.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has shared warm ties with Trump, instead urged calm. “Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue,” he tweeted. “The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests.”
The only world leader to stand by Trump was the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who defended his ally and repeated the U.S. president’s baseless claims of election fraud.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not comment directly. The Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova initially just shared a Facebook post from Jill Dougherty, a Russia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington that said, “The United States will never again be able to tell the world that we are the paragon of democracy.”
She later blamed the U.S. electoral system and the media—not the president—for the unrest. “The electoral system in the United States is archaic,” she said. “It does not meet modern democratic standards, creating opportunities for numerous violations, and the American media have become an instrument of political struggle.”
Russia’s chairman of foreign affairs Konstantin Kosachev also appeared to blame the system, which Trump claims is corrupt. He said American democracy was “obviously limping on both feet,” adding, “America no longer charts the course, and therefore has lost all right to set it. And even more to impose on others.”