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Opinion

Opinion: Trump's shocking victory is a turning point

With the end of election day comes disbelief - none of the so-called experts predicted this result. The time until Trump takes office must now be used wisely, says DW editor-in-chief Alexander Kudascheff.

Donald Trump's victory - his unexpectedly large victory - has induced a state of shock, at least in Germany and much of Europe. Despite all the efforts now to prioritize the transatlantic relationship, there's no hiding the dismay, the horror, the bewilderment. But the only thing we can say for sure at this moment is that no one really knows Donald Trump. We took note of his plans, his intentions and ideas during the campaign, just as we couldn't fail to notice his bullying style, his missteps, his bizarre rhetoric, his sexism and his racism. But on election night, we also saw an attempt and a willingness to reconcile with the American people in the wake of all the mudslinging and to treat American's partners around the world fairly.

Simply put: We will just have to wait and see.

No one was prepared for Trump

This doesn't change the fact that in major Western cities - including, of course, Berlin - a Trump victory is the worst-case scenario. No one was prepared for him, and no one knows who will take over the reins in US foreign policy, let alone security, defense and environmental policy. Trump is an outsider in the Republican Party. He's not relying on prominent Republican luminaries. He has no inside channels with them, there is no informal familiarity. Trump is likely to surround himself with people who, like him, are not established political players.

Kudascheff Alexander Kommentarbild App

Alexander Kudascheff is DW's editor-in-chief

This will undoubtedly have an effect on economic policy when it comes to global free trade. It will also affect foreign and security policy. There are the issues of Iran, of Israel, of a possible military mission to fight jihadi terrorism, of Washington's role in the Middle East, of the fragile relationships with Russia and China. Does the United States see itself as a partner or a rival to these two other powers, or will it fall into isolationism? Then there is the question of US relations with its allies. Will NATO continue to be the collective security system for the Western world? Will Trump uphold the alliance? Or does he really think that Europeans need to pay more for their security? This is going to be the stress test for the West.

Not a man of the current elites

Donald Trump is the great unknown. It may seem paradoxical for a billionaire from New York, but he embodies the triumph of the rural regions over the urban centers - the victory of the country over the city. When it comes to domestic policy, he is no man of the current elites. Which is why it won't be easy for them to forge a relationship with him.

But there's also an upside to this current state of shock. It will lead to introspection. There's enough time before Trump's inauguration as the 45th president of the United States to get used to the idea. Trump's election is a turning point; it may mark a historic shift. It doesn't have to mean an end to past cooperation with other Western powers. But it will definitely be a more uncomfortable era, because one thing about Trump is certain: he's unorthodox.

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