Germans Fear for Liberal Democracy After Trump’s Win

Germans lament the “disastrous belief” that the world will be better off if only more nativists were in charge.

A bird sits on top of one of the spires of the German Reichstag building in Berlin, December 31, 2005
A bird sits on top of one of the spires of the German Reichstag building in Berlin, December 31, 2005 (Max Braun)

The reaction in Germany to Donald Trump’s victory is one of dismay.

I reported here yesterday that many Germans were horrified Trump had got this far in America’s presidential contest.

Now that he is elected, the mood has turned morose.

Turning away from the world

The liberal Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung argues that America is turning away from the world.

“If Trump makes good on the foreign-policy statements he made off the cuff during the election campaign, then the allied and political system of the West faces a revolution,” writes the newspaper’s editor, Berthold Kohler.

Kohler laments the “disastrous belief” that the world will be better off if the Putins, Erdoğan, Trumps and Le Pens had their way, as opposed to much-reviled “Eurocrats”, but that is the sentiment spreading on both sides of the Atlantic.

Handelsblatt agrees. The business daily’s Gabor Steingart writes that the entire Western establishment has been humiliated.

Fed up

Hubertus Volmer puts it more colorfully in a comment for N-TV. Citing the left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore, he characterizes Trump’s victory as “the biggest ‘fuck you’ of all times”.

Many voters are fed up that their jobs are at risk, that politicians have made themselves dependent on the banks, that illegal immigrants are pushing drugs across the border, raping women and taking away from Americans — even if some of these points are more emotion than truth.

Fears for democracy

Germans worry what this revolt of white men, as Der Spiegel puts it, portends for the future of liberal democracy.

Veit Medick has argued in the same weekly that democracy is clearly no safeguard against demagogues.

All it takes is a dazzling personality with a simple message and a spectacular lack of scruples — and a substantial part of the population shuts off its brain.

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