New Zealand apprehensive as Trump enters Oval Office

Wellington, Jan 21 (IANS) Uncertainty marked reactions in New Zealand to US President Donald Trump’s inauguration. There were protests, as the country remained apprehensive about “problems facing humanity in the 21st century”, a media report said on Saturday.

Protest marches, under the “Love Trumps Hate” banner, against the divisions sparked by Trump were set here in the capital and the largest city of Auckland, Xinhua news agency reported.

One of the protest leaders was US-born Green Party Member of Parliament Julie Anne Genter.

In a Facebook post earlier in the week, Genter said Donald Trump epitomised “some of the worst extremes of human nature: greed, cruelty, sexual violence, anger, misuse of power.”

“His election to President of the US by a small fraction of the overall population demonstrates how broken democracy is in America,” wrote Genter.

“We need to find new ways of doing politics if we are going to solve the problems facing humanity in the 21st century.”

The government has been circumspect in greeting Trump’s presidency, with Prime Minister Bill English reportedly saying earlier in the week that he was positive the two countries would maintain good relations.

New Zealand was still hopeful of seeing the controversial 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal which Trump has vowed to withdraw from enacted.

“So we will work with whatever the Trump administration produces. That’s what you have to do when you’re a small country,” English told the New Zealand Herald newspaper.

New Zealand’s main newspapers published editorials Saturday that were strikingly different in tone, but both focused on the possible upheavals to the US domestic and international order.

The Auckland-based New Zealand Herald urged Trump’s opponents and critics “to adopt an open mind to his proposals, looking for the good in them or at least making the best of them if they can.”

It acknowledged that Trump’s “geopolitical plans are deeply disturbing but not entirely wrong,” citing better US-Russian relations among the possible benefits.

“But it is in the fields of trade and climate change that the world will first notice the loss of US leadership. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will be an early casualty, as well the Paris agreement on climate change. For progress on both fronts the world might look to China,” it said.

An editorial in the Wellington-based Dominion-Post newspaper described the start of Trump’s presidency as “a frightening fact,” but the fair result of “a strangely-weighted electoral system” in need of urgent reform.

The real dilemma would come if Trump attacked the machinery of US democracy or rejected the next election’s results, “as he threatened he might in 2016.”

“For now, it’s highly unclear that things will get that bad. Until they do, New Zealand and the world can concentrate on worrying about the powers that Trump has rightly been given — like control over the US nuclear arsenal, the power to effectively start wars and tear up alliances, or the power to crash US efforts on climate change,” said the editorial.

“They are enough to worry about, even though he earned them.”

–IANS

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