German Politicians react to Trump’s Election

It was around 8am on November 9th in Germany when it seemed clear that outsider Donald Trump was going to win the U.S. election and become the 45th American president.

The outcome of the election sparked skepticism and concern about the future of the cooperation between the United States, Germany and the EU.

In the afternoon Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, congratulated the newly elected president and offered cooperation with the new cabinet in January 2017. However, she attached conditions. Democracy, freedom, and respect for the rights and the dignity of all humans, regardless of origin, skin color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or political attitude, were listed.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, did not publicly congratulate him and declared that Donald Trump is unpredictable. During the election campaign he stated that Trump is a “preacher of hatred” and said that it now depends on whether or not Trump’s behavior will change as a president. According to Steinmeier, the German government has only very few contact with the Trump camp and is unable to see it’s clear positions and aims.

The Federal President Joachim Gauck senses a new role for Germany in the upcoming presidency. Europe will have to take on more responsibility to maintain its values. Gauck sees it as a “practical test” for the EU. He agrees with Merkel, by saying that cooperation has to be linked to certain values.

The German minister of defense, Ursula von der Leyen, called the U.S. election campaign a “severe shock” and demands Trump to dissociate himself from the defamation and disparagement. German politicians are especially concerned about the new role of the U.S.A. in the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). So far Germany and Europe could rely on the U.S.A. being an important military partner who secures European interests. The outcome of the election raised the question whether Europe will still have his “big brother” for protection in the near future.  

Right-wing populists celebrated the election of Trump. However, important party members of the AFD – Germany’s most important right-wing party – seemed to be critical towards the new president. Thuringia AFD chef Björn Höcke declared that Trump needs to prove first whether an American president is able to be independent from ”lobbying” and “nepotism” and pursue policies for the benefit of the people.

While most articles in the German press were very critical of the newly elected president, there was also a sense of self-reflection. The highly acclaimed newspaper “ZEIT” and the online-magazine “Spiegel” made clear that it is exceedingly important to stop forgetting frustrated and economically disadvantaged voters of populistic parties like the AFD.  Next year Germany will vote as well and right now the established parties are losing votes to the anti-migrant, anti-Islamic Alternative for Germany (AFD).

by Schirin Hafezi