From Sophie Co. — RT
December 4, 2016
With Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential race putting the prospects for transatlantic cooperation in jeopardy, EU leaders are now bracing for change. With Washington promising to focus on internal affairs, Berlin may now have to play the lead among its Western allies. Angela Merkel is planning to run for a fourth term as German Chancellor, and is seen by many as a beacon of stability in turbulent times. But as the country struggles with an influx of refugees, and public discontent grows, will non-establishment candidates be able to take on Germany’s ruling party? We ask the parliamentary leader of the Left Party – Sahra Wagenknecht.
Sophie Shevardnadze: Chancellor Angela Merkel will be running for a fourth term, but in regional elections, Merkel’s CDU party has suffered defeat. Will the Germans vote for the stability that comes with Merkel, or will they vote for change?
Sahra Wagenknecht: I wouldn’t say that Chancellor Merkel represents stability. Merkel has brought even greater social inequality to our country. There are a lot of people who feel that politicians have abandoned them, that we are moving away from democracy. But the problem is, there are no strong candidates within the Social Democratic Party, so the risk is quite real that Chancellor Merkel will remain in office for another four years. I think that most people in this country do not want things to “stay the same”.
SS: There is growing support in your country for the Eurosceptic party Alternative for Germany – AfD. Do they stand any real chance of becoming part of the coalition government and influencing public policy?
SW: Well, I don’t think Alternative for Germany will become part of the next government. But you’re right, Alternative for Germany is, indeed, becoming stronger. It has made some very significant gains in recent regional elections, but not so much because people support the position of the AfD – it is chiefly because they were disappointed with the other parties.
It looks to them as if politicians don’t really care about their interests, and so many believe that by choosing Alternative for Germany they can express their anger, their frustration, and protest. In other words, for many people, a vote given to Alternative for Germany is a way to express their disappointment, not a sign that they wholeheartedly support the idea of AfD defining Germany’s politics. I don’t see them achieving that much, but I fear that they will have a much stronger representation in the next Bundestag.
SS: Der Spiegel wrote that during his visit to Berlin, the outgoing American President Barack Obama personally led the campaign in support of Merkel. Can Merkel be considered a successor to American policies in Europe?
SW: Well, she has always been a very successful proponent of American policy. She always believed that her function is to acknowledge and recognise American hegemony, the hegemony of the United States, meaning that it should ALWAYS be recognised. We do not know of any case in which Merkel has raised any objections against American policy, including military action both with NATO and without it.
I mean the military action that took place under American leadership, and in which Merkel played her part, and, therefore, Germany did, too. The most recent example of this is Syria. So, there has always been a close relationship between Chancellor Merkel and Obama and, unfortunately, she has never said anything critical with regards to the United States. When German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed a different view, for example, when he criticised NATO maneuvers in Eastern Europe, in those cases, of course, Mrs. Merkel always kept silent. There has always been a kind of alignment with the United States, as well as a need for American approval.
SS: According to the New York Times, Angela Merkel is the Liberal West’s Last Defender. If Trump focuses on America’s domestic issues, will Berlin become a beacon for the West? Maybe it’s time for Merkel to become the “Leader of the Free World”?
SW: I have no idea what “the free world” means. I mean, lately, America has been engaged in many military operations in violation of international law. They have not been defending freedom and democracy; they have been using their drones in war zones to kill people, which is a gross violation of international law. So I wouldn’t use such terms lightly.
I also don’t think we should be praising Angela Merkel too much. Germany today should not be pursuing hegemonic goals. On the contrary, many European countries feel that the EU nations are disconnected because Chancellor Merkel is acting on her own again and again without consulting her European partners, so they are not happy about it. So I believe it would be a mistake for Germany to pursue hegemony today.