Senate elections in the southern US state of Georgia – and the whole world is watching. Why is the outcome of this vote so important not just for the state but for the entire US?
Many US presidents got to know the problem in a painful way during their term in office: only one chamber of the US Congress supports their policies, the other is dominated by the opposition and consequently tries to thwart the policies of the US president.
Donald Trump has been like this for the past two years, followed by Barack Obama, who had to rule a large part of his entire term in office with a divided Congress, and in the end even with an opposition majority in both chambers.
It’s about the next two years – at least
So the Georgia by-election was about much more than just which two senators represent the southern state in Washington. Rather, it was mainly about the question of how much political freedom of movement President-elect Joe Biden has at least until 2023, when the “half-time” elections are due, the so-called “midterms”.
The starting position before the election was as follows: The Republicans, who have controlled the Senate since 2015, had 50 seats after the November 4 election, the Democrats 48 – two of them independent, who mostly vote with the Democrats. One or two more seats would put Trump’s Republicans in a position to make government much more difficult for Biden and to delay, dilute or block many legislative proposals.
Biden’s personnel proposals would then be much more difficult to get through, after all, the Senate confirms, among others, leading government officials and the judges at the Supreme Court. It is precisely these long-term posts that have a lasting impact on political developments in the USA and well beyond the term of office of the respective president.
Symbolic or effective success?
An additional seat for the Democrats, on the other hand, would be primarily a symbolic success in Georgia, which has traditionally voted for the Republican, but initially no change in the fundamental majority in the Senate. Two additional seats, on the other hand, would create a stalemate in the chamber.
And this is where it becomes extremely interesting for the Democrats: In the event of a tie, the vote of the Vice President decides in the Senate – in future Biden’s deputy Kamala Harris.
In this case, provided his group votes as one, Biden has much greater political leeway. Ultimately, it is foreseeable that the Republicans, possibly spurred on from outside by Donald Trump, will try to make Biden’s life as difficult as possible.
This is what the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, stands for, who already pursued this strategy to perfection under President Obama. Hardly anyone knows this better than Obama’s vice-president at the time, who just couldn’t play his role in the Senate: Joe Biden.