14:00 - 17:00
Brussels, Belgium
State of the Unions: US mid-term elections

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The succession of Trump by Biden in the White House and the American “return to the world” has given a fresh impetus to transatlantic relations. However, both Europe and the US continue to face major political, economic, and social issues. The deep frictions in US society and the persistent signs of democratic erosion have not been overcome with the change of administration.

Against this backdrop, the US mid-term elections in November 2022 were crucial to defining the state of democracy in the US, its influence and ability to shape international politics, as well as the terms of transatlantic relations in the coming years. In the context of rising polarization, divisions, and contestation, what do the mid-term elections say about the state of US democracy? How do Europeans interpret the outcomes of the mid-term elections?

The Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) brought together leading European and US experts and policymakers at the 5th State of the Unions conference, in Brussels, to engage in a debate about the vote that took place in the other side of the Atlantic, but has global repercussions.

Session I: A Polarized Democracy and the Future of US Politics

Building on an analysis of the mid-term election results, this session discussed what they reveal about the state of US democracy and the divisions within US society.

Over the last few years, US politics has been characterized by increasing polarization among parties and voters, setbacks in democracy, and rising instability and contestation. What factors can help explain the deep divisions and recent developments in US politics? What does a Republican upturn reveal about the strength of Trumpism and the expectations for 2024? What additional challenges does a Republican majority mean to the Biden administration?

Session II: Implications of a new US Congress for the EU and global politics    

Going beyond the domestic implications of the mid-terms, this session assessed the impacts of the new US Congress on the future of its foreign policy and transatlantic relations.

With the new composition of the House and Senate, what directions is US policy likely to take in different domains, such as security and defence, multilateralism, and NATO? How does Europe interpret the elections in the US?


  • László Andor, Secretary General, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) 
  • Colin Woodard, Author and Journalist 
  • Laurence Nardon, Head, North America Program, French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) 
  • Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Member of the European Parliament 
  • Steven Erlanger, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent in Europe, The New York Times 
  • Peter Kmec, Member, National Council, Slovak Republic, and former Ambassador of Slovakia to the US


  • Ian Lesser, Vice-President, The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) 
  • Uwe Optenhögel, Vice-President, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) 
German Marshall Fund
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