Allies’ Reactions to the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

Building a Smarter German-American Partnership
Americans took to the polls, the mail, and drop-boxes this fall. Election Day was the culmination of months of campaigning and voting, but it still remains to be seen what the final outcome will be. The 2020 election is one whose impact resonates globally. Initial reactions from German political leaders and allies in the critical aftermath of the election reveal what we may be able to expect for the next four years in the German-American relationship.

AGI will be compiling German and European leaders’ reactions to the U.S. election. This post will be updated.

Angela Merkel

Chancellor of Germany, CDU

November 7: Merkel released an official statement congratulating Biden for his win. Her official statement is, “Congratulations! The American people have made their decision. Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States of America. I sincerely wish him the best of luck and every success and I would also like to congratulate Kamala Harris, the first female vice president-elect in the history of your country. I look forward to working with President Biden. Our trans-Atlantic friendship is indispensable if we are to deal with the major challenges of our time.”

November 4: So far Merkel has not said anything about the election. Her spokesperson Steffen Seibert said that Germany has confidence in the democratic tradition and in the constitutional institutions of the United States. He also said the government won’t comment on the issue until there is a result.

November 2: Merkel has not commented yet and stated on November 2 that she “certainly won’t do that one day before the election in the U.S.” She has stated, however, that “you know that simply because of my education as a physicist I naturally attribute great weight to scientific advice, and make use of it myself.”

Heiko Maas

Minister of Foreign Affairs, SPD

November 7: Maas tweeted his congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and expressed his excitement for working with the U.S. as a team player again, noting that Germans are ready to take on a series of issues. He emphasized his desire for the U.S. and Germany to start working on a new deal to repair U.S.-German relations.

November 5: Heiko Maas tweeted “What happened in America does not correspond to the democratic culture we know from the United States. It is important that everyone accepts the results. It is easy to be a winner, but sometimes it is hard to be a loser.”

November 4: Mass tweeted a thread about the U.S. election. He said it is too early to comment on the outcome because many states are still counting the votes. He said that Germans have great respect for the way America has managed this election amid a global pandemic. He remained optimistic about American democracy and referred to the importance of “Checks and Balances.” Mass also called for trust in the electoral process and results.

November 3: Maas has not directly commented on the election, however, he did state on November 3 that “We need a transatlantic partnership that works, we want a ‘new deal’ in this partnership and we are ready to invest in our relationship,” and that, “This is an election that will pave the way for something, especially with regard to the role of the United States in the world.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Federal President of Germany

November 7: Steinmeier commented in an opinion piece for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that, “Joe Biden’s election highlights something that connects us with our cousins across the Atlantic on the most profound level. The Americans were the first to believe in German democracy after 1945. We Germans should be the last to give them lessons in democracy. Even if we had nothing else in common, we—Germans and Americans—would still be democrats. This undoubtedly brings us closer than we are to any other region in the world, certainly more so than to China or Russia.”

Steinmeier also wrote to Biden that, “With your presidency the hopes of countless people are linked, far beyond the borders of your country, including in Germany.”

Armin Laschet

Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia and Candidate for CDU Party Leadership

November 8: On the Anne Will Talkshow, Laschet said “Biden opposed Trumpism with a factual, calm campaign.”

November 7: Laschet tweeted: “Democracy is only as strong as our will to fight for it. @KamalaHarris: Congressman Lewis wrote: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act.” What he meant was that America’s democracy is not guaranteed. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.”

November 7: Laschet tweeted: “There are days of hope! The choice of Joe Biden to the 46th President of the USA and Kamala Harris to Vice President shows that respect and style can be stronger than aggression and hatred. Joe Biden is the power to wish to unite a divided country.”

November 5: Laschet retweeted footage of President H.W. Bush’s 1992 concession speech. Laschet quoted the sentence “We respect the majesty of the democratic system” in English with hashtags #demokratischekultur and #zusammenhalt.

November 4: Armin Laschet gave an opening overview of the U.S. election and its implications for Germany and Europe at the German Marshall Fund’s online event The Morning After—A Deep Dive into the U.S. Elections Results.

Friedrich Merz

Candidate for CDU Party Leadership

November 4: On Wednesday night, as a guest of Bild’s “Oval Office” show, Friedrich Merz talked about the U.S. election. Merz thinks respect for the voters in America demands Germans to observe the election with caution, but with great interest. The head of Bild-Politik, Jan Schäfer, asked him how he would get along with President Trump if he were the German chancellor himself. “We’d be fine,” said Merz.  He said he knows what makes Americans tick as he has been to the U.S. for official business many times.

November 4: Merz warned against being too optimistic about Job Biden’s victory with regard to post-election German-American relations. “Even if Trump is not elected today, everything will not be fine tomorrow. It [the bilateral relationship] will not be the same as it used to be,” said Merz. “The tone under Joe Biden would be friendlier. Even so, America will stay self-centered for the next few years.”

November 4: Merz tweeted “I have been observing the division in American society for a long time. What happens in the politics is just an expression of it. The U.S. has experienced radicalization on both sides of the political spectrum in recent years.”

November 4: He also tweeted “America is redefining its interests, no matter Trump or Biden wins the election. It is possible that the courts are called to determine the election result. But I believe Americans don’t need any lecture from us.”

Norbert Röttgen

Chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Candidate for CDU Party Leadership

November 4: Regarding Trump’s premature declaration of premature victory, Norbert Röttgen said he was not surprised that Trump disregards the basic rules of democracy. Röttgen did not think there would be any improvement between the U.S. and Germany if Trump wins a second term. He hoped a Biden victory will improve future bilateral relations and both countries would treat each other sensibly again.

Markus Söder

Minister-President of Bavaria and Candidate for CDU Party Leadership

November 8: In an interview with the Bayerischer Rundfunk, Söder said that “the whole world breathes a sigh of relief.” He is relieved that America under Biden will return to the light side of power. He urged Donald Trump to recognize his defeat. Söder also hoped that U.S. troops will not leave Germany in the future as Trump plans.

November 7: Söder tweeted after Biden’s win: “Yes he can! Congratulations to Joe Biden! I am relieved that the election thriller ended well. My confidence in American democracy has grown again. Now the bizarre spectacle of the last few days should come to an end.”

November 5: In a RP Online news article, Markus Söder was quoted as saying, “I will not let my positive image of America be taken away from me.” Söder believes the foundations of American democracy will change depends on who becomes the president but the German-American relationship will still remain close.

November 4: Markus Söder tweeted “US-election: Hopefully there will be a result soon. All votes must be counted. A stalemate with legal discussions won’t be good for the stability in the world.” Söder wants Europe to recognize the changes in the transatlantic relationship, saying, “Europe must become much stronger, economically, technologically, and also in terms of security policy, in order to ultimately develop an independent position more on par with the USA than before – regardless of who is president”

Olaf Scholz

Federal Minister of Finance; SPD Chancellor Candidate

November 7: Scholz tweeted, “Congratulations, Mr. President-elect @JoeBiden. Now is the chance to open a new and exciting chapter in trans-Atlantic relations. The USA remains Europe’s most important and closest partner. There is much to do. Good cooperation! #EveryVoteCounts.”

Saskia Esken

Co-Leader of the SPD

November 7: Esken tweeted her congratulations to Biden and Harris. She also stated that Trump and all Republicans must accept that their policies and views were voted out by Americans.

November 4: Esken actively tweeted about her reactions to the U.S. election with one tweet saying “What an election night! Wake up every hour without an alarm clock and no news give us peace.”

Norbert Walter-Borjans

Co-Leader of the SPD

November 7: Walter-Borjans tweeted a congratulations to Biden, and that he hopes he can fix the large division in the American public.

November 4: Like many German politicians, Walter-Borjans has expressed his indignation about President Trump’s declaration of premature victory and plan to take legal action against further vote count. He said Trump’s responses are an attack on democracy. “Regardless of the election result, Europe must be clear that the U.S. now is a different country than it was before 2016,” said Walter-Brojans. He believed the American government will turn inward to overcome the country’s division. The EU must reflect more clearly on its own position in the partnership with the U.S.; the bloc needs to put nationalistic egotism behind itself and invests in innovation and digitalization sovereignty.

Noveber 4: Walter-Borjans said that, that whatever the outcome may be, it will have to be respected. He highlighted, though, that if Trump is elected, he hopes that he will be better moderated.

Annalena Baerbock

Co-Chair, Green Party

November 7: Baerbock retweeted a tweet with the news of Biden’s win and captioned it with “What a liberating message!”

November 4: Baerbock said that,  “The most important thing is that every vote is counted, and highlighted that the votes in key states have not yet been decided.

Robert Habeck

Co-Chair, Green Party

November 8: An article posted by Re:Jerusalem stated that Habeck was happy with the results of the election but not euphoric. He mentioned that the U.S. has a lot to do in order to fix divisions in the country.

November 4: Habeck commented, “If Trump wins, the global order will change fundamentally. Europe must unite, otherwise it will no longer play a role internationally.”

Christian Lindner

Chairman, FDP

November 7: Christian Lindner tweeted, “The Election of Joe Biden is a relief. Congratulation!  It will not be any disagreement with the U.S. disappear, but there is a chance for a new start of the transatlantic relations. We Europeans should use that.”

November 4: Lindner stated that “Donald Trump’s appearance was startling,” and “The fact that the incumbent questions the integrity of the election result and openly calls for people not to count votes is the risk of a constitutional crisis and political chaos.”  He knew the results would be close, and although he is hopeful about American political institutions, he believes the result could call international stability into question.

Tino Chrupalla

Co-Chair, AfD

November 7: According to a press release, Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland congratulated Biden’s win but noted that any irregularity in the accounts will be resolved quickly through the rule of law. Most of the AfD members prefer Trump’s allegations about the election fraud.

November 3: Chrupalla tweeted, “What’s certain is that Trump has given the unheard America a voice and improved the economic situation of many Americans. He kept democracy and didn’t start a war like his predecessors did. And all this despite resistance and censorship by the establishment.”

Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary-General

November 7: Stoltenberg warmly welcomed the election of Joe Biden as the next U.S. President and Kamala Harris as Vice President. He said that Joe Biden is a strong supporter of NATO and a strong NATO is good for America and good for Europe.

Ursula von der Leyen

President of the European Commission

November 8: She tweeted: “I look forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We have pressing challenges to address: COVID-19, climate change, the rules for a new digital world, global security& reforming our rules-based multilateral system. Together, we can do it.”