'Brexit prepared me for this': Berliners react to Trump win
Hundreds of Berliners packed themselves into bars, cafes and other venues to watch the US presidential election results into early Wednesday morning as Donald Trump emerged as the next president.
A queue of some 100 people formed outside a cafe, bar and events space in the hip district of Kreuzberg as eager Americans and Germans alike hoped to get a spot inside.
But this crowd had gathered to watch the US presidential election unfold, not to hear the latest DJ set in the European capital of cool.
Hours before Republican candidate Donald Trump looked set to seize victory from Democrat Hillary Clinton, the night resonated with enthusiasm and optimism for the former secretary of state among residents of the traditionally liberal city.
“I’m not concerned at all about the outcome,” said American student Evan, studying in Berlin, to The Local.
“Clinton will definitely win.”
The venue had reached capacity of some 200 people inside within roughly 15 minutes of opening its doors. Buttons reading “I’m with Her” were pinned to dozens of blazers and T-Shirts of an international crowd, sipping wine and beer and watching a Donald Trump-styled piñata dangle from the ceiling.
“It’s really exciting. It’s really cool to see that other people in other countries care about what’s happening in your country as well because this election not only affects America, but also the rest of the world,” said Andrea Capuccio from Florida.
“History is going to be made, regardless of who wins.”
At least half a dozen other election watching parties opened their doors on Tuesday night throughout Berlin, some of which required prior ticket reservations.
At the Kreuzberg venue, Hallesches Haus, the night began with excitement, with cheers for Clinton as she started to look ahead in exit polls. But the tone of the venue of mainly Clinton supporters turned quieter as Trump showed he was leading in the key states of Florida and Ohio.
At around 3:30am, with Trump lurching ahead - but still no yet close to a win - some members of the audience started to hit the Trump piñata with a stick until it fell apart, bursting with candy.
Photo: Emma Anderson
By 4am, the crowd reacted less vocally to victories or losses by Clinton and many started to leave. At around 4:30am when Trump had secured Ohio, the audience thinned to less than half the original size.
German Jan Hoepper, who came into the viewing party late, said that Trump’s wins across important states was not a surprise.
“After Brexit, I was prepared,” Hoepper said.
"With upcoming elections in Austria, France and Germany, there's a trend towards more conservative and more protectionist governments that are not welcoming. This, with Brexit, could be the beginning of a trend across the world."
Hallesches Haus started to shut down the party at 5am and some went to other venues, like a tea shop where a small group of ten to 15 mostly non-Americans were gathered.
There viewers still held out hope for a turnaround, saying “this is not happening”, even at 7am when Trump had 238 projected electoral votes compared to Clinton’s projected 215, and looked sure to win enough other states to gain the necessary 270.
Baris Catalbas from Turkey, now living in Berlin, wore a shirt with Trump’s face, clearly expressing his view of Trump: “nope”. But he said he believed Trump’s presidency would in fact lose him support.
“Even four years as Donald Trump as Commander in Chief will be enough for current supporters to realize what kind of doom he will bring,” Catalbas said.
By about 8.40am in Berlin, CNN reported that Clinton had conceded the race to Trump.
"I'm kind of not surprised to be honest," said American-Berliner Erin Single from Atlanta, Georgia. "There was a big discrepancy between what I was seeing in the media in Europe versus what I was seeing when I was visiting back home."
"I think it's a step backward for the country, but... Congress and the other branches of our government can mediate extremism," Single added.
"I don't think it will affect me here in Europe, as long as the person in power doesn't start another war."
Elsewhere in Berlin, the small group Republicans Overseas celebrated the win.
"A Trump victory just goes to show how much Americans hate being told what to do," the Berlin branch wrote on Facebook.
"If he wins, it's laid directly at the feet of the media establishment, the sneering, snotty coastal elites, and all the social justice warriors whose bigotry against rural America caused small town USA to rise up and say ENOUGH!"
Berlin-based chair of Libertarians Abroad, Ned Wiley, told The Local that Republicans in the German capital are surely all "delighted" that Clinton lost.
"More people were more pissed off than almost anyone thought," Wiley said. "Establishments everywhere beware."