(by Martin Pioch)
If the US presidential election had taken place in Germany, according to polls taken four days before the election itself, Hillary Clinton would have won with 75%, whilst Donald Trump would have only gained 4% of the vote, and 21% would have preferred a third option. Therefore it is no wonder that most Germans were shocked at the election’s outcome, and the major responses were uncertain and anxious. The situation is comparable with reactions to the Brexit vote — most Germans cannot understand the decision of the American population. All parties of the Bundestag, the German parliament, expressed their worries as well as their hope that Donald Trump will act in office in a more presidential and open, and less racist and xenophobic way. The multiple comparisons between Trump and the rise of the Nazi regime have worried many Germans with a keen sense of history. But the government has been reserved. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier – tipped as a candidate for the German presidency – in his first response didn’t congratulate Donald Trump on his victory, but only expressed his concerns about the future of the international order. Angela Merkel congratulated Trump only two days after the election, as one of the last heads of state to do so, which has been seen by many as a response to Trump’s negative comments on her chancellorship. Only the non-parliamentary right-wing populist party AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) has welcomed the presidency of Trump — the first German representatives to do so directly after the official election results –- and expressed their view of Trump as a role-model for the German elections in 2017.
(by Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti)
Trump’s election may produce some ‘unintended consequences’ for Italian domestic politics. Indeed, leaders of Italian populist movements (chiefly the Five Stars Movement, the Northern League and Us for Salvini) has been using the choice of US electors to campaign against a forthcoming crucial referendum on constitutional reform promoted by the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Renzi was one of the few world leaders to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton: he declared that, while the Italian government would “naturally work with whoever is elected President”, as a citizen and Secretary of the Democratic Party, he was “rooting for Hillary Clinton.” Trump’s triumph has put Renzi in a difficult position in light of growing anti-elite sentiment in Italy, because – as Professor Roberto D’Alimonte put it – “at the moment for many Italians he represents the establishment”; hence, events overseas can cause a serious blow to his campaign in favour of constitutional reforms.
A quick look at the main populist leaders’ social networks reveals their overwhelming support for Trump. Matteo Salvini, a xenophobic politician who advocates the use of bulldozers against migrants and refugees, said on Twitter that Trump’s election is ‘a lesson of democracy’, adding the hashtag “I vote no (to the referendum)”. For Five Stars Movement’s parliamentarians, Trump’s election represents a popular victory in the fight against the ‘caste’ of traditional politics – to which the Five Stars Movement fully belongs, since it currently is the second most represented party in the Italian Parliament. Beppe Grillo, comedian and leader of the Movement, wrote in his blog: “This is crazy. This is the end of an era. It’s the apocalypse of information, TV, the big newspapers, intellectuals, journalists. This is a general F**K OFF.” The election of Trump even led to the media reappearance of former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, with whom Donald Trump shares some features.
Rough times ahead.
(by Miklos Lazar)
The Visegrád Four countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) as well as Croatia and Slovenia were rather positive about Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump’s rhetoric was considered a refreshing change and an opportunity to return to normalcy in international affairs. Although support and opposition were divided at the micro level, Trump’s positions as well as his current and past connection to the region echoed some of the values and popular views of East-Central Europe. Poland and Hungary were also keen on a less intrusive US approach to their domestic affairs. Being widely criticised in leading Western media outlets for their deep political reforms and denial of liberal values (in favour of Quadragesimo anno-ideals) the region’s governments saw Trump as a facilitator of advantageous international transformation. However, many voices – in both government and opposition – remained sceptical of Trump’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia. The V4 governments were divided in terms of what his relationship with Putin might mean for the future of Ukraine and the Baltics. Moreover, Trump’s quasi isolationism and his promise to make allies pay for their protection suggested that the region may yet find itself in a deeper security predicament.