The United States is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the parliamentary elections that will decide the future power structure in Washington. At the "midterms" in the middle of President Joe Biden's four-year term, a vote was taken on the majority in Congress.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate were up for election. Numerous governorships and other important offices were also decided upon.
Biden's Democrats are at risk of losing their majority in Congress, which would severely limit the president's political leeway. According to polls, the Republicans were given a good chance of taking over the majority in the House of Representatives. Head-to-head races for several seats were expected in the Senate, which is currently tightly controlled by the Democrats. If the Republicans take control of Congress, the second half of Biden's term in office is likely to be characterized by deadlock, the inability to reform, and partisan struggles.
Last polling stations close on German Wednesday morning
Biden called on voters to make their voices heard and vote. Starting with states like Vermont, Connecticut and New York in the east of the country, polling stations across the country gradually opened up. The United States spans multiple time zones. The last polling stations in the far west should close on German Wednesday morning. By then, the first meaningful results were expected.
Many people had already used the opportunity to vote by post or in person before the actual election day. Due to a few tight races, the outcome of the elections could, according to some experts, only be known after several days or even weeks. And so TV presenters also got the viewers in the mood for an election week or even an "election month". Biden also called on citizens to be patient before the election.
It was the first national vote in the US since the 2020 presidential election - which was followed by chaos. Then-incumbent Donald Trump refused to concede defeat. The Republican's continued influence is reflected in the general election at various levels.
On the eve of Election Day, Trump hinted that he could announce a new candidacy for president in the 2024 election year next week. Trump announced a "very big announcement" at an appearance in Ohio on November 15. Previously, during his appearance in support of several Republican candidates, poll numbers were displayed on screens, which attested to him being the most popular among potential candidates for the White House. "Four more years!" the crowd shouted.
The stakes in this year's midterm elections were high - for Biden, for Trump, for the US and beyond:
The outcome of the election will determine how uncomfortable the next two years will be for the president - and whether he can ultimately apply for another term. If the Republicans win one or both chambers of Congress, Biden will no longer be able to push through any major legislative initiatives after January. In addition, he and his government are threatened with parliamentary investigations and impeachment proceedings. Without a majority in the Senate, Biden would no longer get federal-level personnel that need to be confirmed in the chamber. This also applies to the important filling of federal judge posts.
The Republican had a hand in the "midterms" on many levels. Trump aggressively supported various party colleagues during the election campaign - including those who share his unsubstantiated claims of the "stolen" 2020 election and, following Trump's example, refused to promise in advance that they would recognize an election result even in the event of a defeat. Biden warned of "chaos" and spoke of a danger to democracy. Some of those who were loyal to Trump applied for offices that are particularly important in the US electoral system: governors or secretaries of state, which were previously neglected and involved in the certification of election results. If many of his candidates prevail, Trump could use the momentum for a new presidential bid.
For the United States
The United States has never really calmed down since the turbulent 2020 presidential election and the violent attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. Biden's hopes of reuniting the country after taking office were dashed. The political atmosphere is extremely tense. Shortly before the election, a brutal attack on the husband of top Democrat Nancy Pelosi increased fears of politically motivated violence. The political camps are more irreconcilable and sometimes hostile than ever and have fundamentally different plans in various policy areas - for example with regard to migration, social security systems and abortion rights.
The "midterms" could also have consequences beyond the borders of the USA. The Republicans in the House of Representatives have threatened to slow down or even block the massive US aid to Ukraine if they win the Chamber of Congress. That would have the potential to sway the course of the war in Russia's favour. However, observers suspect that the threat is more of an attempt to build up pressure in order to wrest a concession from the Democrats elsewhere. Overall, it is also important how the elections and the counting are carried out. Should there be turbulence similar to that seen in the 2020 presidential election, it would further tarnish the image of American democracy.