As elections in the USA have drawn to a finish, rewarding incumbent President Barack Obama with a second term, a fresh challenge lies ahead. While the elections have left the democratic party in a strong position both the white house as well as congress, where they hold a majority of 52 - 45 seats. Furthermore individual states voted on new laws which could strongly impact the United States. As Colorado and Washington State legalize marijuana, same sex marriage takes a confident stride through the laws of Washington, Maine and Maryland. Both international drug politics as well as the opposition to equal opportunities in marriage for all, may be permanently affected should more states choose to follow suit. It may shift the perspective on the initiative by several South American states, including Colombia among others, who wish to change the approach to the "War on Drugs" by depriving the drug lords of their main source of income by legalizing and regulating the drug trade.
But the elections also provided less positive results, as California voted to uphold the death penalty and Minnesota voted on a ban of same sex marriage, which was turned down. Also Puerto Rico voted to join the United States as a full State, which still needs to be approved by Congress to establish the 51st State.
Montana and Colorado also voted with an overwhelming majority to deny corporations constitutional rights, on the basis that they are not people.
But while the democratic party is still celebrating, the next challenge is already approaching. The United States is quickly approaching a fiscal cliff, which will require strong bipartisan participation in congress to overcome. In 2011 there was a similar situation which barely resulted in raising the debt ceiling shortly before the US bankrupted on its loans. This time there are several consequences which may result. Either a massive cut on social spending will happen or taxes must be raised for the rich. Bush era tax cuts for the rich, which were extended by the Obama administration are set to expire soon, as well as a 2% cut to the income tax, enacted 2011. If both were to be cut, up to 300 billion dollars could be earned by the end of 2013. This may hinder the economic growth, which is slowly taking effect. Both parties will most likely argue for cuts to the tax programs as well as social spending, respectively. During the past 4 years US Republicans have made frequent use of the filibuster, a veto measure, which effectively shuts down congress. It is meant to protect the minority party, but has never been used as frequently as during the past four years, which has resulted in calls to change the existing practice.
For Germany this much economic risk comes at a difficult time. As the DOW fell after the election, Greece also announced its harshest set of austerity measures yet, which as resulted in rioting in the streets of Athens. Should Greece not be able to realize a recovery, the resulting strain for the European Union will show its effects in Germany.