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'If Germany could vote, Hillary would win hands down'

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'If Germany could vote, Hillary would win hands down'
Hillary Clinton. Photo: DPA
17:34 CEST+02:00
Germans think Trump would be a disaster for the USA and the rest of the world, argues Hamburg professor Dr. Harry Friebel in an opinion piece for The Local.

As the primaries for the US presidency were in full swing, Germany joined the discussion.

In newspapers and magazines, in online media, in debates on social media and blogs, and even in special surveys, the media provided the German public with a never-ending flood of news and commentary.

According to a representative survey by YouGov Germany, only 15 percent of the German population would like to have “a US-style campaign”. Nearly two-thirds (62%) say “I approve of the way campaigns are run in Germany”.

Nevertheless, the theatrics of the US elections clearly has a pull on the German imagination.

According to YouGov, 32 percent of respondents are following the campaign in the US “rather closely” or “very closely”.

An online survey by the Berlin daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel found that 80-85 percent of respondents who have followed coverage of the US presidential election throughout the primary season have done so “because it is close and exciting and because the decision also affects us, at least in terms of foreign policy”.

Thank God pre-election in the USA is now over.

If Germany could vote, the outcome would be clear: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win hands down against the Republican's combustible and unpredictable Donald Trump.

Different surveys on the preferences of Germans for the 45th president of the US come to similar conclusions: The magazine Stern reported on the results of its own survey “Germany Chooses” that 80 percent of Germans would vote for Clinton and 20 percent for Trump.

The news broadcaster N-tv writes that “Germans would choose Hillary Clinton for president”. Their result showed that three-quarters of Germans would cast their vote for her, while only one in 20 would vote for Donald Trump.

Clear differences between East and West Germany as well as with regard to German party preferences emerge: Clinton does best in West Germany and among supporters of the Greens, the Left Party and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Trump receives considerably more support in the East of Germany and among supporters of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD).

This should come as no surprise as there are clear similarities between the slogans used by Trump and the AfD.

While Trump proclaims: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border,” the AfD declares: “We need a fence for protection on the border with Austria.”

The AfD is a right-wing populist party that was newly founded in 2013. In 2016, due to the escalation of the refugee crisis, it developed into the third most popular nationwide power.

The party now holds seats in the parliaments of all three German federal states that have held elections in 2016.

The previously mentioned YouGov survey offers a bit more nuance with regard to an assessment of the possible political consequences of the election: “The vast majority of Germans say that a US President Donald Trump would be bad for Germany as well as for the United States.”

According to a large minority (42 percent) of the respondents, a President Clinton would “improve the relationship of the US with Europe”. Only three percent agreed that this was true of Trump.

On combating climate change, another issue close to the hearts of many German voters, 31 percent thought Clinton would take action as opposed to two percent for Trump.

Even on the billionaire businessman's supposed strong suit - money - Germans have almost no faith in him. Only nine percent think the descendant of German immigrants would improve the US economy, as opposed to 31 percent who say the same about Clinton.

On international security, the results were similar. Would Trump effectively fight against international terrorism? Twelve percent agreed in comparison with 28 percent for Clinton. Thirty-eight percent said the former secretary of state would spread peace in the world. Three percent could say the same about her Republican rival.

The story was the same across Europe.

As part of an additional Europe-wide survey by YouGov, over 8,000 people in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway were asked how they would react if either Trump or Clinton won the election.

Victory for Trump would make 46 percent “scared”, 40 percent “disappointed” and 27percent “sad”. Conversely, an election victory by Clinton would lead 40 percent to feel “relief”, another 40 percent “optimism” and 20 percent “happiness”.

This emotional connection of the respondents is astonishing.

Old Europe wants Hillary Clinton to emerge victorious.

Dr. Harry Friebel is a professor of sociology at Hamburg University.

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