The implications of a Trump presidency for Europe are potentially far-reaching, especially after the Brexit vote and with the rise of the right-wing European populist parties, said Johanna Schuster-Craig, assistant professor of German at Michigan State University.
With no term limits in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been in power through three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now President-elect Donald Trump. As part of her role as chancellor, Merkel congratulated Donald Trump on his new office.
However, in contrast to Russian President Vladimir Putin's celebratory congratulations or Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's cautious well-wishes, on Nov. 9, Merkel issued a warning to Donald Trump: If he can’t respect "democracy, freedom, the law and human dignity independent of background, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political beliefs,” then Germany would withdraw its offer to collaborate with and support the aims of the United States.
Merkel’s warning to Trump is highly symbolic for both foreign policy and internal politics, Schuster said. Outwardly, this statement has been praised for its defense of liberal democratic values. Inwardly, the statement also holds a warning for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which was thrilled to see Trump elected: Chancellor Merkel is certainly not going to relinquish control of power without a fight. (It has been debated as to whether Merkel would seek a fourth term).
Finally, the date of Merkel's statement in the context of German history holds substantial weight. On Nov. 9 the monarchy ended and the Weimar Republic was declared. It is the date of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, of the Reichskristallnacht and of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to the end of Communism in East Germany. It is now also the date Merkel issued a warning to President-elect Donald Trump.
Schuster-Craig researches German integration and migration politics, focusing on national identity, conservative and far-right movements, especially when these intersect with immigration, refugee, integration politics and U.S.-Europe comparisons.
She can be reached at (517) 355-4760 or via email at [email protected].