US ELECTIONS

Hillary Clinton finally secures the Democratic Party nomination

Something resembling unity at last reigns within the party, which now turns its sights on stopping Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton supporters at the Democratic Party convention.
Hillary Clinton supporters at the Democratic Party convention.TANNEN MAURY / EFE

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The Democratic Party has finally ratified Hillary Clinton as its official candidate in the upcoming November presidential election. The former first lady will become the first female nominee for commander-in-chief on a major party ticket. Clinton’s nomination comes after several difficult days at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia where tensions between her supporters and those of Bernie Sanders reached their peak. Still, the party’s most persuasive argument for unity is the danger posed by a Donald Trump victory.

At 6.39pm local Philadelphia time, Clinton received the votes of the majority of the Democratic delegates and became the presidential nominee who will face Republican candidate Donald Trump on November 8.

State delegates split their votes between Clinton and Sanders based on primary results in those jurisdictions. Clinton received 2,814 delegates out of a total of 4,763. Sanders gathered 1,893.

The Democratic convention in Philadelphia was meant to be a ball to celebrate unity and reconciliation but everything went wrong hours before the conference began

After Vermont reported its votes, Sanders, who represents the state in the Senate, took the floor to ask delegates to approve Clinton by unanimous acclamation. The room broke into the greatest ovation given since the convention began.

Sanders’ gesture symbolically sealed peace between the leaders of the two feuding sectors within the Democratic Party. Minutes later, a group of delegates and Sanders supporters, dissatisfied with a process they see as a rigged system, left the hall and began to protest in the press room next door.

Sanders brought a definite end to the primary season that caused a deep rift within the party. After former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers her acceptance speech in Philadelphia on Thursday, she will start one of the toughest campaigns in decades as she competes with a politician who is prone to making sexist and xenophobic remarks. “If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say I may become the first woman president but one of you is next,” Clinton said on Tuesday in a surprise appearance by satellite video.

The goal of these conventions is to close the primary season in the 50 states - this year it lasted more than five months - and open the final phase of the presidential campaign. A good convention puts an end to divisions that naturally arise during the primaries and the parties close ranks around their candidates before election day in November.

Republicans nominated Trump last week in Cleveland, Ohio, but they were just as divided on the last day of the convention as they were on the first. During his first post-convention press conference, the real estate magnate spent some time getting back at Senator Ted Cruz, his fiercest rival in the primaries, who spoke at the conference but refused to ask Republicans to vote for him. Evidently the wounds of the primary season are still oozing.

The Pew Research Center says 90% of Sanders supporters favor Clinton over Trump, a lower figure than the number of Clinton voters who were willing to give her rival or Barack Obama their support

The Democratic convention in Philadelphia was meant to be a ball to celebrate unity and reconciliation but everything went wrong hours before the conference began. Wikileaks published thousands of internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails that confirmed Sanders supporters’ suspicions: party leaders failed to be impartial and showed favoritism toward Clinton during the primaries. Whether these maneuvers had a significant impact on the outcome of those contests is debatable: Clinton won more than three million votes more than Sanders.

But the evidence published led to a crisis at the worst time possible and Clinton’s team has insinuated that the Russian government facilitated the leak. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned. Sanders supporters kept up a protest inside the convention hall even as speakers took the stage.

Still, Sanders pledged his unequivocal support to Clinton: “Any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.”

In the end, the success of the convention will rest on Clinton’s ability to draw millions of Sanders voters to the polls on November 8, many of whom are disappointed with her campaign and see her as an oligarch suspected of corruption.

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Meanwhile, polls remain inconclusive. The Pew Research Center says 90% of Sanders supporters favor Clinton over Trump. That percentage is far larger than the number of Clinton voters who were willing to give her rival and then Senator Barack Obama their support. In the end, Clintonites converted to Obamism.

The poll, however, has been disputed. It does not take into account the fact that some of those Sanders supporters who do not intend to vote for Trump may choose another option that is not Hillary Clinton: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

English version by Dyane Jean-François.

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