The global congratulations for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ historic win over President Donald Trump ranged from leader’s expressing their delight and relief to humor—like the Australian newspaper that ran the headline “Phew,” or the cheeky London Sunday Times with its play on Trump’s criticism of the former vice president: “Sleepy Joe Wakes up America.” London’s Madame Tussaud’s wax museum wasted no time in changing Trump’s presidential red tie and suit to a purple golfing outfit.
But many others who had banked on a Trump re-election have remained silent, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, Chinese president Xi Jinping, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who had called Biden a “low-IQ individual” who is “seized by ambition for power.” Nor has the world heard from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who has benefited from Trump’s ambivalence over condemning him for his involvement in the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would wait to congratulate the president elect until Trump’s legal challenges are played out. “We don’t want to be reckless,” he said Sunday.
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, a vocal supporter of Trump, wished Biden luck in a statement from his press secretary. “Allow me to congratulate you on the successful presidential campaign,” the statement signed by Orban said. “I wish you good health and continuous successes in carrying out your extremely responsible mission.”
German magazine Der Spiegel followed up on its 2016 cover in which it depicted Trump cutting off the head of the Statue of Liberty with a cartoon of Biden carefully putting it back in place.
More left-leaning mayors were friendly than right-leaning leaders. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, tweeted, “Welcome back, America” and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has publicly sparred with Trump, tweeted, “London looks forward to working with you — it’s time to get back to building bridges, not walls.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his Sunday cabinet meeting with a hearty congratulations, even as he had expressed a preference for a second term Trump administration. “I have a personal, long and warm connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years,” Netanyahu said, “And I know him to be a great friend of the State of Israel.”
He also thanked Trump “for the great friendship he showed to the State of Israel and to me, personally.” He went on to praise him for his “recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan, for his standing up to Iran, for the historic peace treaties and for bringing the alliance between Israel and the U.S. to unprecedented heights. Thank you, President Trump.”
The French president, Emanuel Macron, once called the “Trump whisperer” for his ability to get through to the president, tweeted, “The Americans have chosen their president. We have a lot to do to overcome today's challenges. Let's work together!” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had been assured his Brexit deal would include a lucrative trade detail with the U.S. thanks to his “good friend” Trump, tried to play nice by mentioning climate change: “The US is our important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose phone call with Trump became a key element of the impeachment fight, chose Twitter to relay his congratulations, saying Ukraine “is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States.”
Trump’s sworn enemies, like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, cheered, but warned that Biden would have to work hard. “Trump’s damaging policy has been opposed,” Rouhani said in a statement. “The next U.S. administration should use the opportunity to make up for past mistakes.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—whom Trump often ridiculed— was predictably nice, and side-stepped any sense of relief: “I look forward to working with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, their administration, and the United States Congress as we tackle the world’s greatest challenges together.”