Berlin calls for ‘trust’ in electoral process after US vote

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks to the media in Berlin, Germany, 26 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/Omer Messinger]

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday (4 November) urged America’s politicians to help maintain “trust” in the electoral system after President Donald Trump prematurely declared victory in the tightly contested race.

“It is important that all politicians who reach people directly, establish trust in the electoral process and the results,” Maas said in a statement, adding that it would be “premature” to comment further given that ballots were still being counted.

“We must now be patient,” said the minister, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European union.

German-US ties have deteriorated significantly under Trump, who has frequently criticised Berlin over trade and military spending.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman earlier declined to comment on the uncertainty hanging over the US vote outcome, but told reporters that the German government was “closely following” developments across the Atlantic.

“The government has confidence in the democratic tradition and rule-of-law institutions of the United States of America,” he added.

Germany hopes a Biden presidency could bring a wind of change

Many in Donald Trump’s administration see Germany as its main ideological antagonist on the global stage. After next week’s US presidential election, Berlin is hoping for a “new beginning in the transatlantic partnership”, whoever wins.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was more outspoken, warning that the United States was facing a “very explosive situation” that could create “a constitutional crisis”.

The minister, who is also head of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, stressed that regardless of who became the next US president, Europe would need to become more self-sufficient.

“We will have to do a lot more for our own interests — both as Germany and in particular with the other Europeans,” she said.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz echoed the sentiment, saying that developments in the US had shown that Europe needs to strengthen its own “sovereignty” so that “a rules-based global order can exist”.

“That is why we need to take this opportunity to make Europe strong,” he told reporters in Berlin.

Separately, the German foreign ministry said in a statement that Maas had gone into precautionary quarantine after attending a meeting on Monday evening with a person who later tested positive for Covid-19.

Maas was previously quarantined in late September after a member of his security staff tested positive but he did not contract the virus himself.

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