Former Bavarian Prime Minister and elder statesman of a key party in Angela Merkel’s governing coalition has spoken out on the emergence of Donald Trump as President-Elect of the United States.
Remarking that President-Elect Trump’s policies would mean “a lot” of change and “especially for Europe”, former Christian Social Union party Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber said the change would also bring opportunity.
Speaking in an interview with Focus magazine, the retired premier articulated particular hope for a thaw in relations between the West and Russia, that in comparison to the “very frosty” relationship between Obama and Putin Trump would probably deal with the Russian leader “on a personal level”.
Acknowledging that Mr. Trump would probably follow through on his comments about dialling back military support of NATO nations which failed to meet their treaty obligations — which presently is most NATO states — former Prime Minister Stoiber said European nations would have to pay more for their own security. He remarked: “Our armament spending will have to go up… and we must solve the problem of migrants from Africa ourselves. No one can help us”.
Moving on from the potential opportunities for Europe following the Trump vote, Mr. Stoiber criticised the shrill response from many in Europe. Remarking on the shock in Europe and the revulsion at the prospect of a Trump presidency, he said: “I am amazed at the haughty criticism in Germany and Europe of the US voters.
“The media landscape was unanimously of the opinion that Clinton will win and Trump is impossible. This is a disgrace for the media and Democrats in the US and particularly for the elites in Washington.”
Noting the widespread anger at the establishment in the United States had a mirror in Germany and that Trump had characterised Clinton as “the Merkel of the United States”, the politician said to avoid a similar upset German politics had to be willing to “openly discuss everything… the people are worried and sometimes use language that is not politically correct. But we can’t dismiss it”.
“America shows what happens when the distance between the establishment and the little man becomes so great that someone can exploit this conflict for themselves.”
The main beneficiary of this disconnect between ordinary people and the establishment in Mr. Stoiber’s native Germany is the populist insurgent party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which continues to enjoy strong poll ratings and record achievements in local elections.
AfD vice-chair Alexander Gauland also criticised the hysterical reaction to Trump in Germany, especially remarking on the comments of the German defence minister who called Trump’s victory “a great shock” and inferred concern at some of Trump’s key policies.
Gauland spoke out, saying: “I call on all German politicians, no matter what party affiliation, to moderation and prudence in this matter… It is highly embarrassing how hysterical the rest of the government team is.”
The AfD leader also spoke on President-Elect Trump’s comments on the NATO alliance, saying it was now time for Germany to “act more independently”.