The Democrats have won a majority in the US House of Representatives for the first time in eight years.
It means the Trump presidency – which already had no free rein despite a Republican-led chamber – will face a significant challenge, setting the tone over the remaining two years.
Democrats will gain control of all the influential House committees, which until now had been in the hands of Republicans.
They will effectively have control of the federal budget, and can block Donald Trump’s legislative plans. The Democrats can, for instance, block funds for the president’s border wall project with Mexico, and stop any further tax-cut package.
A House majority will give Democrats the power to launch investigations, backed by subpoenas, into Trump’s tax returns and possible conflicts of interest. The Mueller inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election could get a new head of steam.
The Democrats can challenge Donald Trump’s foreign and trade policies – although analysts point out that the president still has important executive powers in those areas.
Some Republicans fear that further investigations may lead the Democrats to go as far as initiating impeachment proceedings against the president. However, for such a move to be successful would need a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which is seen as unlikely given the Republican majority.
The House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi reacted to the results by saying the Democrats would look to restore constitutional checks and balances on the Trump administration.
In his phone call to Pelosi to congratulate the Democrats, Donald Trump acknowledged her call for bipartisanship. The House Democratic leader said the country had had “enough of division”.
One former Democratic strategist has said any legislation will require compromise, empowering moderates from both parties. It’s thought some common ground may be sought for matters such as infrastructure projects.
But some are calling for an all-out attack on the Trump presidency. Critics of such a strategy point out that attempts to block the Kavanaugh appointment to the Supreme Court did not go down well with voters, and say it could backfire.
A Republican strategist said business in Washington was going to change immediately, expecting Democrats to go all out to hold the Trump administration to account.
Other Republicans say the elections have not been as bad for Trump as might have been, arguing that there has been no “blue wave” for Democrats.
A Democratic House of Representatives and a Republican Senate reflects the entrenched blue-red divisions across the United States. For many on both sides, the midterms mean the 2020 presidential campaign is now effectively underway.__EuroNews