Trump trial: how robust is democracy?

Former US President Donald Trump must appear in court in Washington on Thursday, charged with attempting to falsify the 2020 election results and for his role in the storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021. A look at Europe’s comment columns shows how much rides on the trial’s outcome.

La Stampa (IT) /

Trump the favourite despite grave allegations

Notwithstanding the charges Trump remains the favourite Republican candidate, journalist Alan Friedman explains in La Stampa:

“The new charges are much heavier than the previous ones, centred on the illegal possession of Top Secret CIA and Pentagon documents and other sensitive material for national security. ... These new allegations would show that Trump was guilty of conspiracy to order his staff with criminal intent to destroy evidence prosecutors had requested. ... Nevertheless it is probable that Trump will still win the nomination. ... Each time he is indicted, his election projections improve or remain the same. ... It is therefore unlikely that anyone could challenge the former president with any hope of success.”

Alan Friedman
Die Presse (AT) /

Disqualified for political office

The Republicans should have expelled Trump long ago, Die Presse complains:

“At stake now is the very heart of American democracy — and ultimately perhaps even its very existence. If, like Donald Trump, you refuse to recognise the real election results, you refuse to accept defeat and you refuse to hand over power peacefully, you are violating an inviolable basic principle of democratic order. To act like this is to disqualify yourself for political office. ... The Republicans failed to expel Trump from their ranks immediately after the shameful attack on the heart of American democracy. They remain hostage to him to this day.”

Christian Ultsch
Le Temps (CH) /

Separation of powers at risk

The US is really being put to the test, fears Simon Petite, US correspondent for Le Temps:

“The president has the power to pardon anyone convicted. Could he pardon himself? ... The institutions had already been shaken on 6 January 2021, when the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol. Two and a half years on, Donald Trump shows no remorse and is storming the White House once again. If he succeeds, it is to be feared that he will expand his prerogatives. ... He would do so by relying on the legitimacy of the people against that of the judges. He has already attacked the transfer of power, what remains is the separation of powers.”

Simon Petite
Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Democracy under threat not only in the US

Jyllands-Posten sees the case as symptomatic of a growing political sickness:

“Trump is symbol and symptom of a terrible polarisation and a standstill in democratic dialogue that is shored up by social media. And an increasingly spineless political class that is entirely out of touch with the people it purports to represent. These are phenomena that will not disappear with Donald Trump, and his escapades only highlight how fragile democracy is. Things we have always taken for granted are now at risk. Everything can collapse very suddenly.”

Večernji list (HR) /

The problem is much bigger than Trump

The ex-president is a symptom of the deeper problems in US society, Večernji list writes:

“Trump’s voters are convinced that the entire system is pitted against them; that the FBI, the media and Hollywood are ‘left-wing activists’ and that Trump is the only one who has ever stood up to them. ... It is not yet clear whether impeachment will finally turn some voters away from the ex-president. Nevertheless it seems increasingly clear that Trump is a symptom, not the cause, of American divisions. If this anti-democratic impostor has convinced the desperate half of America that only he is fighting for them and against the politically correct left movement, then perhaps the problem is bigger than Trump.”

Dino Brumec