Whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, the reality is that he will become the 45th President of the United States when he takes the oath on January 20, 2017. For some that date will be a celebration, and for others it will usher in fear over what will happen in the span of his four-year term as the leader of their country. For those outside of the United States though, there is a mix of fear over the international impact his presidency will produce and a feeling of motivation to change the political tides within their own government.
On Wednesday we touched on the responses of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, but in the days that passed, other German leaders and prominent figures have weighed in with their own feelings. Some play into the frustration felt here at home while others carry more optimism.
We are documenting those reactions here strictly for informative purposes, independent from any personal political leanings.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quick to provide her initial response to Donald Trump’s victory, offering hope that the working relationship between the countries will remain strong. On Thursday, Merkel took the time to speak with Trump over the phone to personally congratulate him on his win and stressed the common values the two countries share, offering her desire to have continued cooperation.
Ursula von der Leyen
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen spoke with Reuters on Friday, taking a cautious stance on Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It is a good thing when the new American president immediately seeks a dialogue with the Russian president. It is good and it has our full support. What can’t happen is forgetting – forgetting the annexation of Crimea, forgetting the hybrid war in Ukraine which continues, forgetting the bombardment of Aleppo.”
One of Germany’s leading news publications, der Spiegel, has been anything but shy about their fear of Trump’s victory. The cover story is evidence of this as they call out the win as “The End of the World (As We Know It)”. You’d be hard pressed to find a positive spin within as the publication has released a number of articles that all spell doom for the world.
One commentator wrote:
“The American voters have opted for change, though no one knows what it will look like. Given Trump’s Islamophobic, nationalistic, hateful statements during the election campaign, only one thing can be said for sure: It won’t be good…
“Trump is a destroyer, a divider. An examination of his biography and of his election campaign shows that he is not interested in constructive solutions, he isn’t looking for reconciliation, he only wants to egoistically and self-righteously impose his and his supporters’ nationalist interests.”
Another Spiegel journalist touched on Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying:
“Now, another Putin admirer is moving into the White House. The president-elect has praised the Kremlin autocrat several times for the strength of his leadership and has sought to allay suspicions that Putin tried to influence the outcome of US elections — despite US intelligence agencies’ conviction that he did. The fact that Trump has indicated he will demand that European NATO allies pay more for US military protection, and has even called America’s own loyalty to the alliance into question, has triggered widespread concern, particularly in Eastern Europe.”
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), which represents Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, spoke out on Wednesday voicing their concerns over Trump’s position on manufacturing. “It is to be feared that the United States under a new president, just like China, will mainly focus on their own economy at the expense of international trade flows,” the group said.
Much of the company’s North American manufacturing has moved to Mexico, and the amount of money invested in those operations have been substantial. During the campaign, Trump had been vocal about his opposition of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and wanted to renegotiate the deal to slap costly tariffs on any American-bound cars manufactured in Mexico.
Felix Hufeld, president of Germany’s top financial regulator Bafin, issued a warning that Trump’s desire to loosen bank regulations could set the global financial markets down a dangerous path just as it has shown signs of recovery from the collapse nearly a decade ago.
Speaking at an industry conference on Friday, Hutfeld expressed this concern without specifically calling out Trump by name.
“Barely 10 years after the start of the financial crisis I once more hear the bugle calls of deregulation. And I have the impression that these sounds are becoming louder. That is not without risk… The industry, just as politics and regulators, are in need of predictability and continuity – not regulatory volatility.”
German actor Til Schweiger, known for his performance in the movie Inglorious Basterds, stirred up some trouble on Facebook this week when he posted an anti-Trump rant that included a quote falsely linked to the president-elect. Trump supporters were quick to blast the actor over his lack of fact-checking.
The quote, which claimed to be from a 1998 interview with Time, was a known fake that had spread early in the election season. Apparently Schweiger missed the memo. It read: “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”
Alternative for Germany (AfD)
Not all Germans see Trump’s victory as a sign of doom as the highly controversial right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party embraced the win as a sign of much needed change and a boost for the party’s own agenda. Party leader Frauke Petry took to Twitter to congratulate Trump on his win and called it a historic fresh start.
Petry later told MDR radio that “the issues that moved the detached middle class in America to vote for Trump are issues we face in Europe”. With support quickly growing with the Afd, leaders see the election results as a sign of things to come in Germany.