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Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the US elections: “US foreign policy will be less predictable” United States of America

09.11.2016 - Article

America has voted – and Donald Trump has secured victory in the presidential election. Trump will now face great challenges as Obama’s successor, Steinmeier said.

America has voted – and Donald Trump has secured victory in the presidential election. Trump will now face great challenges as Obama’s successor, Steinmeier said. Germany’s Foreign Minister also sees the election result as an occasion for Germany and Europe to remind themselves that “we should remain a stronghold of reason and we should foster our political culture”.

Clear win for Donald Trump

Barack Obama’s successor will move into the White House on 20 January 2017
Barack Obama’s successor will move into the White House on 20 January 2017© photothek.net

“Nothing will be easier. Much will be harder,” Foreign Minister Steinmeier said on the morning after the elections in the United States. “The result is different to what most people in Germany had hoped to see. But of course we accept it.”

Donald Trump secured more than the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win and is thus almost certain to be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States in January 2017. He was the clear winner, as Democrat Hillary Clinton only won 218 Electoral College votes. Trump was also victorious in important traditional swing states such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Iowa. The Republicans also secured a majority in both chambers in the United States Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The challenge is to overcome political rifts

Steinmeier underlined that it was good that the election campaign was over. The way it was conducted had left deep scars and a divided country. Steinmeier said that Trump’s first task would now be to fill in the deep rifts that developed during the election campaign – a great challenge.

However, the challenge of dealing with the high expectations that Trump himself created would be even greater. It would not be an easy task to “make America great again”, Trump’s campaign slogan, especially in times of economic tension.

Steinmeier hopes we will not face larger rifts in international politics

Above all, however, Steinmeier hopes “we will not face larger rifts in international politics”. He pointed out that Trump did not only express criticism of Europe during the election campaign, but also of Germany in particular. Foreign Minister Steinmeier said that the foreign policy agenda was still unknown, but added: “I think we will have to get used to the idea that US foreign policy will be less predictable for us and we will have to get used to the idea that the US will tend to make more decisions on its own.”

At the same time, transatlantic relations were “something like the foundation of the West” – a foundation that must not now be relinquished. He pointed out that there were countless interpersonal and political ties between Germany and the United States that must be maintained and fostered. Germany had learned a great deal from its American friends in the past. “We may now encourage our American friends to stand by the partnerships that have developed in the past, and thus to stand by us,” Steinmeier said.

Steinmeier suggest extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council

Germany and the United States – traditionally close partners
Germany and the United States – traditionally close partners© photothek.net

Steinmeier said that we do not know how Trump will govern the United States – many questions on this had remained open in the past weeks. He summed up by saying that the election result provided an occasion for Germany and Europe to remind themselves that “we should remain a stronghold of reason and we should foster our political culture. What we have achieved together here in Germany – economic reason combined with social responsibility – has made us a recognised partner within Europe and beyond. And we can stand confidently to this.”

Foreign Minister Steinmeier suggested that an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council be held to allow EU Foreign Ministers to discuss the effects of the election result.

Chancellor Merkel also commented on the election result. She congratulated Trump on the result and offered to work closely with him – on the basis of the democratic values of equal rights.

Inauguration on 20 January 2017

The US President is elected in a two‑stage process and is only elected indirectly by the public. On 8 November, the people first voted for electors in the Electoral College. The electors will meet on 19 December, 41 days after the official election day, and elect the new President. The new President will then officially move into the White House on 20 January 2017.

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