Trump’s rude awakening for Germany
When Trump won the presidency in the US, on November 8, it was a huge wakeup call for Germany. Even Germany’s foreign minister (who once described Trump as a hate speaker) could not bring himself publicly to congratulate him.
One newspaper headline exclaimed “Oh my God!”, another “We’re in mourning”. Another minister described the result as “a nightmare from which we can’t wake up”.
A poll conducted by national broadcaster ARD found that the majority of Germans don’t trust Mr Trump and that most believe his election will result in a deterioration of the transatlantic relationship.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the outgoing US President Barack Obama forged a strong and warm partnership, which survived the revelation that American spies had listened in to her mobile phone calls.
And it was a relationship that had implications for the rest of Europe.
When the US wanted to send arms to the Ukrainians, for example, Mrs Merkel weighed in and deterred them. And as the main interlocutor between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the West, Mrs Merkel – and Germany – have wielded influence.
And now, no one knows what will happen next…
“The self-destruction of the West continues,” noted Joerg Kramer, chief economist at Commerzbank.
Trump’s comments about trade agreements have unnerved many here. TTIP – the controversial, planned trade deal between Europe and the US – was already struggling. Many believe it’s now finished.
“No-one really expected this result, so no-one had established communication with anyone on his team,” says Peter Beyer, spokesman for Mrs Merkel’s CDU party on transatlantic relations. “What everyone is trying to do now is contact anyone we might know who might play a role in his team.”
Donald Trump’s victory they see parallels with the sweep of right-wing and populist parties through Europe. Germany itself goes to the polls next year. The established parties are losing votes to the anti-migrant, anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Trump’s victory has been described as a political earthquake.
The aftershocks will shift the German and European political landscape. Berlin wants to continue an important transatlantic relationship and maintain global influence while upholding values it holds dear. These are, as Peter Beyer puts it, “fragile times”.
“This will bring changes to the world. It’s not the same place as before 8 November. Someone with the character of Donald Trump has an effect not just nationally but internationally, globally.”
Mr Beyer speaks for many here as he adds: “Maybe he’ll prove us wrong. I hope so.”