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Thursday, 9 November, 2000, 02:48 GMT
US split down the middle
The White House
The next president faces a nation in political paralysis
By News Online's Kevin Anderson in Washington

It would not have mattered who was declared president after this cliffhanger of an election - either candidate was likely to face years of political gridlock, according to political analysts in the US.

"We're going to face a complete mess," said David Schribman, Washington bureau chief of the Boston Globe

The presidential race - both the popular vote and in the electoral college - is split right down the middle, as well as the House of Representatives and the Senate, Mr Schribman said.

The Capitol
The House and Senate are almost perfectly divided
"What we have is a country that is basically at an impasse, with political paralysis. I don't think that anything can happen in the next two or three years," he said.

Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution agreed, saying: "We're in for a tremendously difficult period."

Coalition building

And despite George W Bush's efforts to cast himself as a "uniter not a divider," he will have difficulty pushing his agenda with such a divided Congress.

But both men said that the early actions of the new president will be critical in bridging the partisan divide in Congress.

"They will have to make very important early gestures towards the other side - to include them in the government perhaps - and those kinds of things are unprecedented and very hard to pull off," he said.


There may be no policy whatsoever as a result of this

Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution
Mr Mann said that the new president will also have to work to overcome bitterness and outrage amongst partisans of the losing party in the presidential race.

"The public actions, steps and words uttered by George Bush, Al Gore and the by congressional leaders will be exceedingly important in helping us get through this period," Mr Mann said.

Both analysts said that new president might have to include members of the opposing party in his government to help bridge the split.

Gridlock

And Mr Mann said that George W Bush will have to radically rethink his policy proposals, which he said would invite intense opposition from Democrats.

George W Bush and Dick Cheney
If elected, Mr Bush will have to change his policy goals to bridge the split
"Policy drives politics, and if there is to be a President Bush he will learn very quickly that if he wants peace and comity and bi-partisanship in Washington, he is going to have to change what he aspires for in policy terms," he said.

But Mr Schribman added that he is very sceptical that there will be much progress in government in the next couple of years.

"There may be no policy whatsoever as a result of this," he said.

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09 Nov 00 | Americas
Bush camp raises stakes
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