Can the President sign off the land

Donald Trump becomes US President"The result of increasing radicalization of the parties"

"The way he led the election campaign, he cannot lead the country," emphasized Merz. After this election campaign, the "low point of the political derailments" was reached - and hopefully will soon be over. Trump is certainly not the cause of the "dysfunctionality of the American political system", but the result of increasing ideologization and radicalization of both political parties.

"I'm not surprised," said Merz. "And yesterday and tonight I looked at what those queues in front of the polling stations looked like and who was standing there. (...) You could have guessed that those voting here who let out all their anger in the stomach on the establishment wanted to." Analyzes had already indicated in advance that the disappointed voters of Bernie Sanders had defected not to Clinton, but to Trump.



The interview in full length:

Jasper Barenberg: I greet Friedrich Merz on the phone, the chairman of the Atlantik-Brücke. Good morning, Mr. Merz.

Friedrich Merz: Good morning, Mr. Barenberg.

Barenberg: The Atlantik-Brücke is committed to good transatlantic relations. How difficult will your job be if the election winner is definitely Donald Trump?

Merz: It is not getting any easier, although I have to tell you that in the past few weeks I have belonged to the minority who not only did not rule out an election victory for Trump, but also expected and feared it. And we have to assume in these minutes: The election has been decided and Trump will be president.

But he will not be alone in office. There will be around 2,500 more members of the government, civil servants, civil servants, agents forming a new government. Republicans now have a majority everywhere, in the Senate, in Congress, and among the governors. A great responsibility rests on this party and one can only hope that there will be at least a bit of common sense within the party that will ensure that not everything that Trump announced in this completely overheated election campaign, or better one should say, comes true does not come true has threatened.

"I am not suprised"

Barenberg: If it is the case that you were one of the few, it must be said yes, that you expected an election victory for Trump, that you feared him, what happened to all the other observers? From the professional point of view of many people, was that just wishful thinking, or how do you explain that all the predictions were so wrong, and by predictions I also mean political analyzes and assessments?

Merz: A slew of polls have made it clear that Trump can win this election, and I've been looking primarily at the poll results in Ohio for the past few days. In the last 40 years, no president has won who didn't win Ohio, and Trump has been consistently ahead for the past few days and it was pretty certain that he would win Ohio, as it turns out now.

And yesterday and tonight I looked at what those queues at the polling stations looked like and who was standing there. And if you have a little feeling for America - and by that I don't mean the west coast or the east coast, but for the interior of America - then you could guess that those who vote here are especially those who have all their anger in their stomachs wanted to take out on the establishment. And in the eyes of these voters, Hillary Clinton belonged to this establishment like hardly anyone else. So again: I am not surprised that this result came about this morning.

"Disappointed Sanders voters went to Trump"

Barenberg: If it is not an accident at work - and you mentioned a few arguments that actually make it impossible - is the victory, the possible, probable victory of Donald Trump, the other way around, a consequence of certain undesirable developments in American democracy?

Merz: Trump is most certainly not the cause of this dysfunctional American political system; he is the result. And it is the result of increasing ideologization and radicalization of both political parties. Just think of Bernie Sanders, who appeared as a socialist. Ten or 20 years ago we could not have imagined that someone in America would seriously apply for the office of president who describes himself as a socialist.

And the disappointed voters of Sanders for the most part went not to Hillary Clinton, but to Donald Trump, and that too could be seen in polls months ago. When faced with the question of Trump or Clinton, Trump was slightly ahead or very slightly behind. When asked, Trump or Sanders, Sanders was often ahead.

This shows that these surveys, too, have given clear indicators of what is happening to dissatisfied voters in the USA, and these are by no means only, predominantly, but by no means only the old, uneducated white men. That alone would not have won Trump the election.

"Any other Democratic candidate would have beaten Trump"

Barenberg: But also the disappointed from better educated classes. If you say that Hillary Clinton could not win for herself, could not mobilize, and could not convince, that also means that this election victory of Donald Trump is not only due to his strength and gut feeling, but also because of a blatant weakness in the Hillary Clinton's campaign?

Merz: Any other Democratic candidate except Hillary Clinton, who would have been reasonably presentable, would have beaten Trump. Conversely, any other Republican candidate, except Trump, who would have been reasonably presentable - and there were many of them - would clearly and certainly have beaten Hillary Clinton by a large margin. We have seen the two most unpopular candidates of the last decades presented by both parties and one should not be surprised that there is such an escalation in the election campaign.

And at the end of the day, in such a dispute, the winner is the one who appears even more outrageous, even bolder and who basically does not accept the rules of decent democratic competition at any point in time. That is the result of, I would say from my point of view, around 40 years of escalation in the domestic political dispute since Watergate, since Bill Clinton in the White House and his administration to this day.

We can only hope now - and that is what makes me reasonably confident that we have seen the low point of these political lapses and that the Republican Party in particular is now coming to its senses and governing this important and large country reasonably well, because you can This morning - and David Snower has just said it - you can read from the capital markets: This is not an internal American affair, it affects us all.

"Trump will not be able to rule alone"

Barenberg: You have high hopes for the Republican Party. Now you have to say that it is in ruins at the moment, captured by Donald Trump. And if, on the other hand, you say there are 2,500 advisors, employees, officials in government, how do you conclude that there could be such a thing as taming, containment, in the presidency of election winner Donald Trump?

Merz: First of all, there is a majority of the governors who are provided by the Republican Party. There are currently 32, but there will be a few more. A clear majority of the 50 governors will be Republican. That's part of the backbone of the Republican Party in the States.

Second, there are majority leaders in the Senate in both houses of Congress who are anything but great proponents and supporters of Donald Trump, provided they remain in these offices. And Trump will not be able to rule alone. The American system has a strong president, but there is also a system of checks and balances up to and including the Supreme Court, which has fallen into the arms of the government many times and which now has to be filled.

There will certainly be tough arguments between the President and the Senate here, especially in the entire nomination and hearing process for this number of around 2,500 employees in the new American administration, and not all of those will be trumps. To put it ironically, there aren't that many in the USA. In the Republican Party, as in the Democrats, there are still people who are capable of common sense and of compromise.

"In no democracy does the president rule through"

Barenberg: That means, on the one hand, there is the enormous amount of power that is emerging, not only in the presidency, but also in the majority in Congress, as you mentioned, the possibility of appointing Supreme Court judges, which is what the climate there for a long time to come could shape. But there isn't such a thing, would you say, like the ability for Donald Trump to rule?

Merz: In no democracy does the president or the head of government rule. The American president has a lot of power. With his administrative power from within the White House he can make a great many decisions for which he does not need the approval of parliament.

But at the end of the day he will need the Senate for everything from the budget to foreign and security policy, and I trust him to be so intelligent that he will notice relatively quickly that he is the country as he led the election campaign can not lead. In this respect, I remain cautiously optimistic that this election result, which is now probably shocking the whole world, will perhaps be a little more moderate in its effects at the end of the day than we think we have in the feeling this morning.

Barenberg: The chairman of the Atlantik-Brücke here live in the Deutschlandfunk conversation. Thank you, Friedrich Merz. Thanks for the time.

Merz: I thank you.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.