German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen put a brave face on as she offered her comments on Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election, describing it as a “heavy shock,” before speculating on the future of NATO.
“Of course, we Europeans know as NATO partners that Donald Trump will ask himself what we are contributing to the alliance,” the conservative member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told the public TV network ARD. “But we will also be asking, what is your position on the alliance. Many questions are open. A responsible and open America is in our interests.
“I also think that Donald Trump knows that this wasn’t an election for him, but against Washington, against the establishment,” von der Leyen added.
As if in response to German anxieties, US diplomats offered reassurance.
“There is no question that Germany is still our indispensable partner,” the US Ambassador to Germany John Emerson told DW.
Member of the CDU’s coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), were similarly uncertain about what the result meant.
“With Mr. Trump we really don’t know what we’re facing,” SPD foreign policy spokesman Niels Annen told the ZDF broadcaster.
Opposition politicians described the Republican victory in more drastic terms. As the results began tipping in Trump’s favor, Green party leader Cem Özdemir called the possibility of his presidency a “break with the tradition that the West stands for liberal values,” and he warned that the United States could turn its back on the rest of the world.
Meanwhile Left party chairman Bernd Riexinger struck a fatalistic tone: “He won’t be able to offer anything at all to the people who he’s promised all kinds of things.”