A controversial strongman billionaire with questionable connections to the Russian government and a history of misogyny managed a stunning upset over the politician-wife of a former president of the United States of America on Wednesday. Local news outfits in the country officially declared pro-Christian Donald Trump the victor of United States elections, after his right-wing nationalist outfit trounced the incumbent party in many of the country's key provinces.

"I've spent my entire life in business looking at the untapped potential in projects and people all over the world. That is now what I want to do for our country," Trump said in his victory speech. "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

The result came after a violent 18-month campaign that culminated in decisions made by a little-known group of 538 "electors" who meet every four years to choose the next president of the North American nation. The arcane system, which has its roots in political traditions established by a tiny male elite centuries ago, ensured Trump will have access to the country's nuclear weapons even if he did not get a majority of the votes.

The election campaign was marked by leaks, threats, scandals and accusations of intervention by foreign governments. The right-wing candidate announced on national television that he would jail his opponent if he won and promised to dismantle much of the work put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama, whose victory eight years ago seems to only have papered over the nation's history of racial strife.

Trump's opponent, the left-wing Hillary Clinton – whose husband was embroiled in an ugly sex scandal as president in the 1990s – was widely believed to be the front-runner, despite several corruption scandals that tainted her candidacy. Clinton's failure means the US maintains its record of never having had a female head of state, despite giving women the vote nearly a century ago.

Having Trump hold the reins of the nuclear-armed nation is likely to add to the turmoil and uncertainty around the world, in part because the TV star-turned-politician himself announced plans to keep out Muslims, begin conflict with China and upend the global order. He also promised to dismantle America's free speech laws and attack all those who had criticised him over the course of the campaign.

Global markets slumped on the news of the strongman's victory and it remains to be seen how the added volatility of having a right-wing president ruling over a divided polity in a nuclear-armed state will affect conditions all over the world.

Inspired by Slate's If It Happened There series, which re-imagines coverage of American events in the manner that the US media writes about the rest of the world. See also, how would the media be covering Mother Teresa's canonisation if she wasn't Catholic?