The Trump Effect in Germany: Where Strength and Skepticism Clash

For Robin Classen, the most important idea of Trump’s is “to end illegal immigration in the US and to deport illegal immigrants. If he will succeed with this idea, it will show the European nations that the immigration of the past is nothing that could not be rolled back. It could encourage them to imitate this policy,” notwithstanding the force of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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By Taylor Rose l June 21, 2017

2016 was the watershed moment for the rising tide of nationalist populism in the West after the twenty-five year reign of neo-liberal globalism following the December 25, 1991 demise of the Soviet Union.

A tide of right wing populism has taken off across the Western world, with massive electoral victories in Great Britain, the United States and Italy along with a near loss in the Austrian presidential election, with Norbert Hofer winning 46 percent of the vote, for the largest showing the Austrian right has shown since the Second World War. Although the Macron victory in France virtually removed the political left from contention, Le Pen is poised to return in 2022 to challenge Macron’s record in office.

SFPPR News & Analysis interviewed law student Robin Classen, a millennial and vice-chairman of the right-wing Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) in the Rheinland and the state secretary of the party’s youth wing in the same region to discuss the effect Trumpism is having on Europe’s leading economic power.

Classen believes that Trump’s victory will have a “positive effect on right-wing populism in Germany,” yet for the majority of Germans it is “uncertainty, fear and disbelief.” Though, generally, young Germans “are not inspired by Donald Trump” and “only four percent of the Germans would have voted for Donald Trump, but a lot of this is thanks to very poor [media] coverage of Turmp. Classen says the average German “has no clue about what it means to live in the US and is only informed by news broadcasters of the same batch as MSNBC in America and you will understand why Germans think as they do.”

Classen adds, however, “there is a growing skeptical minority which put some hopes in Donald Trump for not only ‘making America great again’ but also for being a good example of a right-wing leader to the European peoples.”

The German political establishment has found itself in a particularly awkward position in 2017, with not only confronting a Trump-led-America, but also with the Austrian, Dutch and French elections, where anti-establishment nationalists have displaced the more centrist parties. This could prove to make Chancellor Merkel’s new political life different, as the AfD rises in popularity.

As a 25-year old populist right-winger, Classen is optimistic about a Trump presidency and what it means for Germany, especially regarding foreign affairs. “I expect that Donald Trump will work on a better relationship of the NATO states with Russia to prevent a new Cold War,” he said. A positive disposition towards Russia is a common position uniting most right-wing populist parties in Western Europe and it is definitely something that ties Trump to the European right.

Though many in the American foreign policy intelligentsia inside the Beltway have strongly criticized Trump’s desire to make NATO members pay their “fair share,” if they are going to be a part of the American led defense alliance, somehow implying that it would destabilize NATO and harm the alliance, Classen, as a German, takes the opposite view. “I am not concerned Trump’s views on NATO could negatively affect the security of Europe.” Though Germany’s military is underfunded, Classen believes that Trump’s priority of defeating Islamic terrorism and being non-confrontational with Russia will help to positively resolve Europe’s security problems.

Classen believes one of the top priorities for German Trump supporters was the hope “for him to prevent a war with Russia. He repeatedly said that he would get along well with Putin and this is what I am hoping. An axis of conservative and Christian politicians from Washington to Moscow would be a great starting point for a positive new world order.”

Besides resolving the Russian crisis, Classen also hopes Trump “will stop the destabilization of the Middle East and destroy ISIS instead of using it as a weapon against Assad.” He adds, “this will have a positive effect on the European refugee crisis.” Though Classen and the German right are aware Trump cannot solve the current crisis of illegal immigration and demographic challenges for Germany, he certainly “can stop the influx of new immigration waves by resolving the issues in Syria and by ending the poisoned partnership with radical Islamic Saudi Arabia.”

Germany, since the Second World War, has historically looked to the United States for leadership and inspiration in a tumultuous world and, yet again, with a massive change in American leadership occurring. Classen hopes that Trump can help show Germans the way forward on critical issues, if he is successful.

For Robin Classen, the most “important idea of his is to end illegal immigration in the US and to deport illegal immigrants. If he will succeed with this idea, it will show the European nations that the immigration of the past is nothing that could not be rolled back. It could encourage them to imitate this policy,” notwithstanding the force of the European Convention of Human Rights. In addition, Classen sees Trump’s peace overtures to Russia along with rejection of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) leading to other European leaders following suit in their own countries.


Taylor Rose is a graduate of Liberty University with a B.A. in International Relations from the Helms School of Government. Fluent in English and German he has worked and studied throughout Europe specializing in American and European politics. He is a prolific writer and author of the book Return of the Right an analysis on the revival of Conservatism in the United States and Europe. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative on-line journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

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