Trump and Clinton are both nearer to gaining their parties' White House nominations after important wins on a big day of primary contests. CDU's Jürgen Hardt gave DW a German government assessment of the results.
DW: It looks like Hillary Clinton is going to be the candidate for the Democrats. Would you say she is the preferred candidate as far as Germany is concerned?
Jürgen Hardt: I think there's no preferred candidate of the German government because we respect democracy in the United States. People in the US have to decide who should be the next president. But looking to what the two top candidates announced in their speeches in the last few weeks, I think Hilary Clinton is much more experienced in foreign affairs. Europe knows her. There was a good cooperation at the time when she was US Secretary of State. Therefore, it might be a little bit more of a challenge to face a President Trump.
So, you're saying Hillary Clinton would be easier to work with because of her experiences with German politicians as US Secretary of State?
But we have to have in mind that what the candidates announce in that phase of a campaign, where they need to attract their own party people, might not be the same what would they put into a topic when they become candidates for their parties. This might also not be the main topic of their agenda during the presidency. Therefore, we are far away from the point where we can judge one or the other candidate and their foreign policies.
Although there are still significant and crucial primaries coming up in Florida and Ohio, let's say Donald Trump becomes the presidential candidate for the Republicans. What would Trump's presidency mean in Germany, if he wins?
It's a lot of speculation. In the last few months, we have the closest cooperation between Germany, Europe, and the US as we ever had, looking to Middle East, North Africa, and Ukraine. Our estimate is that we will continue that way for close transatlantic cooperation with the government in Washington, also Brussels and other capitals in Europe. Every president in the future has to have in mind that the US cannot have its own way, all by itself. The 21st-century approach is more a network approach, and this is what President Barack Obama had shown, and I think this is also the message for every other president.
In other words, more multilateralism and less unilateralism, something that the Obama administration delivered in some areas. Is the America that produced Barack Obama different from the America that is producing candidates like Donald Trump today?
In the last few weeks, we see a lot of mistrust among the people concerning the established political business in Washington. I think this is a sponsor for the success of Sanders on the Democratic side and also Trump. Looking to Washington, you can see that there's a majority in US Congress of the Republican Party, but people cannot see that this changes politics in reality. Therefore, maybe, especially the supporters of the Republicans are a little bit disappointed with what is going on, and this helps a candidate from outside. But I think, at the end of the day, the Republican candidate also needs to attract the people in the middle of the society, and he has to arrange himself with the political establishment in Washington and with the Congress. Therefore, we will see that the candidates will express themselves differently after the conventions in July
You've mentioned the middle of society and how important it is for both candidates to reach out to that bloc of voters. One issue that everyone in the middle is concerned about in the US is immigration and open borders policy. There is a connection with Germany here, which is dealing with its own border questions and issues like immigration. Is there a big connection between those two issues and between the US and Germany?
I think there's a link between Obama's and Merkel's refugee policies because both are focused on working on the reasons for people fleeing and leaving their countries. There's a program to improve the economy in Central America by Obama, and there's a program of the German Chancellor and the EU to resolve the problem in Syria. Therefore, the answer is not closing the borders. The answer is to help people stay in their countries, to do their business there and live there in peace. And this is something similar between the US and Germany, also Europe.
Jürgen Hardt is a member of the German Parliament, CDU politician, and governments Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation.