Split Germany and transatlantic unity / News / News agency Inforos
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Split Germany and transatlantic unity

The Germans are losing faith in American-style democracy

Split Germany and transatlantic unity

The US presidential election's outcome requires urgent forecasts by analysts in various capital cities of the world on the new trends in relations with America. Naturally, this also refers to Berlin, whom the past four years of the "unpredictable" Trump's term in the White House has brought a lot of resentment and frustration. While Germany's political elite unanimously declares its desire and readiness to cooperate with Joe Biden, there is an implied hope that the new US leader will restore everything his predecessor literally trampled over. It stands to reason that the leading German politicians want to overhaul transatlantic ties and are ready to follow in the wake of US policy, but provided that the overseas partners pay due regard to the economic interests of Europe and Berlin in particular.

It is also clear that Germany won't challenge the United States' world leadership, but it is not going to give up on its claim to the right for addressing global challenges as a European leader. The German mentality outstood, both now and always, with maintaining loyalty to the ally and taking care of its wallet contents. It is no secret that most of the German political elite have been brought in keeping with commitment to the "American-style ideals of the free world", while considering it their duty to provide German business elites with the most congenial access to the world's largest US market. In a series of blows inflicted on "transatlantic unity" by Donald Trump, it is enough to highlight his disdain for the European Union and NATO, the rejection of the Paris Climate Agreement and the nuclear deal with Iran.

Last but not least is the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany across the Baltic sea, which dozens of European companies are interested and involved in. All of them face tough US sanctions today. It is a big question whether Berlin and the entire European Union will manage to find a compromise on these issues with the new US President. This means that restoring the much-vaunted "transatlantic unity" is also compromised. The German Handelsblatt business newspaper writes that the recent US election has left Germans with mixed feelings: on the one hand, Joe Biden's victory has revived hopes for improving transatlantic relations; on the other hand, precarity during the transition of power from the Trump administration to the Biden team has weakened German confidence in American-style democracy.

According to a November survey by the Kantar research company commissioned by the Kerber Foundation, 78% of respondents believe that transatlantic relations will normalize after Biden's victory and almost 25% deem the United States as Germany's most substantial partner. At the same time, 53% expressed a belief that the current US election has "rather weakened their confidence in American democracy." Interestingly, back in September, 80% of respondents rated German-American relations as "very bad", while only 10% of the Germans considered the United States to be Germany's key partner.

Very briefly did Handelsblatt mention the attitude towards China, while dedicating as many as two lines to Russia only, with "Putin's Empire and his methods" ranking next to migrants as the major challenge of Germany's foreign policy. Forecast: "The poisoning opposition leader Navalny might further worsen beliefs about Russia." Sounds disappointing. However, as the Germans consider their democracy all but a touchstone, it comes as no surprise that each media outlet cherry picks sociological sources.

This is once again proved by the November publication on the website of the leading East German TV and radio company MDR. According to the polls available to it, "as regards the attitude towards Russia, Germany remains divided even thirty years after unification." This implies that East Germans show more understanding and affection for the Russians and Putin than West Germans. Thus, according to MDR, while there are only 54% of residents in the West supporting rapprochement with Russia, in the former GDR the figure is 72%. According to February 2020 polls, Putin enjoys trust of about 25% in East Germany, and less than of 6% in West Germany.

There are many reasons for this, and not only economic ones. Among them is a common historical fate, with many former citizens of both the GDR and the USSR consider themselves deprived of their homeland, and that the West deceived them. That is why most East Germans "do not see the Russians as either invaders or enemies." Many people remember what glasnost and perestroika are, remember their Soviet friends, Russian language school lessons, bookstores with works by Rasputin and Chingiz Aitmatov, and journeys across vast expanses of the Soviet Union. "We have had a common history for 40 years, and this affects any of our assessments today, both in terms of culture and politics. At the heart of this is the understanding that the Russians are our folks," says Professor Silke Satyukov with the Institute of History at the University of Halle-Wittenberg.

The majority of Germany's Bundestag members are unlikely to have such an understanding, who failed to support last week's resolution proposed by the major opposition party Alternative for Germany, which obliges the German government to adamantly assert the right to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. During the parliamentary discussion, representatives of almost all the parties (except the Greens) advocated the need to accomplish the project. But as the Alternative for Germany, with its substantive support of East German voters, is a political pariah for Germany's present-day political elites, its appeal to the government was voted down. So, hardly anyone knows to what extent a "split" Germany will prove able to defend its interests under "resurgent transatlantic relations".5 993 зсп

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