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Germany and the US election

Jefferson Chase
November 1, 2016

A whopping 86 percent of Germans would vote for Hillary Clinton for US president and only 4 percent would choose Donald Trump, a recent poll showed. DW spoke to five very different Germans about the election.

Trump and Clinton stand at podiums during one of the debates
Image: Getty Images/D. Angerer

Theresia Scholz is an 85-year-old pensioner from Reutlingen and has been a member of the conservative CDU for 50 years.

Personally I'd rather have Obama again. He cuts a good figure and looks as though he has integrity. I'd support it if the Americans decided to allow presidents a third term in office. But if Trump is elected, we don't even want half a term. Externally he's very unlikeable, as is the way he behaves and talks. In Upper Franconian, you'd say he's a real peasant.

Clinton seems like she has integrity and wants to help people. Of course, she's more like the Social Democrats in Germany … I think she'd like to do what she says she'll do.

I think the most important issue is that people have health insurance, and Trump wants to do away with that, doesn't he?

America is a Christian country, and as a Christian I can't close off my country to others. I don't know whether Trump has any religious affiliation … By no means should people vote for Trump. I ask myself how his supporters - and some are intelligent people - could have elevated him to center stage.

I would advise the American electorate: Vote for the lesser of two evils. There's nothing perfect in the world. You can't elect someone who's so revolting and is a blowhard and constantly contradicts himself. In the end you don't know what you'll get.

Hillary Clinton peers at Obama from behind
Many Germans would prefer a third term for ObamaImage: Reuters/Larry Downing

Helmut Kopp, 46, is a senior partner in a business consultancy near Frankfurt and is married to a German-Persian woman.

I follow the election closely enough to have watched the first debate live at 3 a.m. I was interested, but there was also an ironic aspect. How should I put this? I've come to see it as a bit of cabaret.

You could see that Trump wasn't prepared and just kept repeating the same platitudes … He's got a lot of explanations, but no answers for how he wants to get things done.

I'm no Hillary Clinton supporter. I think it's pathetic that a population of 320 million people has a choice between a senile old man and 72-year-old woman. The two of them should be preparing for the final years of their lives and not go around pretending to be 50-year-old yuppies … It's the same discussion we had with John McCain [who ran against Obama in 2008 - ed. note], and he's two years younger than these two candidates.

An entrepreneur who thinks in the categories Trump does polarizes his employees. I ask myself what kind of a businessman he is. In our company, I think we have something like 35 different nationalities. I see that as an advantage. How can an entrepreneur polarize people like that? In my mind, that's lunacy.

For me, the EU is a gift from heaven. I can't understand how the English with the Brexit could be dumb enough to leave. And that's basically what Trump personifies. For me it has nothing to do with what it means to be a businessman. It's pure egotism. An entrepreneur would never polarize people on the basis of nationality or stir up gender issues.

People must turn out to vote and choose the candidate who's the lesser of two evils, even if it goes against some of their convictions.

Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in Indiana
Trump has a certain trash appealImage: EPA/T. Maury

Stefan Hauser, 46, works for an online shop in Dresden and is the publisher of a pocket calendar devoted to dead rock musicians.

I read up on the latest every day in the online newspapers. I follow the election on a daily basis.

In general, the two-party electoral system has a certain entertainment value because it always produces a personalized election. I like everything that's a bit trashy. In that respect Trump is a good candidate. I could laugh at Trump now and then, although I have to say that the laughter has begun sticking in my throat.

Trump is 70. The question is: Does someone of that age have capabilities that mean he should be the one to press the nuclear red button? He's a grumpy old grandpa, a populist and apparently not the brightest guy. At some point, his tirades began to repeat themselves and became more and more excessive. It wasn't entertaining anymore.

Trump is probably right when he talks about a political establishment. Hillary Clinton no doubt wants to set a couple of records, to become the first female president and be part of the only couple in which both partners have held the office … She wants the job at all costs. The question is: What for?

It would be symbolic if she were elected after Obama as the first African-American. I'd welcome it if the Americans elected a woman. That's probably one of her goals.

The Republicans don't seem to have learned anything since George W. Bush. Now they're fawning over the next intellectual low-achiever. They miss Ronald Reagan, the last charismatic Republican … We can probably assume that presidents are marionettes anyway, so that not much will change. But Trump would divide the country even more deeply. So he'd be more of a catastrophe for America than for the rest of the world.

Young women stand in front of a poster showing Clinton and Trump
Neither candidate holds much appeal for young people in GermanyImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Altaffer

Pauli Heinz, 19, is from Hamburg and just started studying product design in Berlin after going to school for three years in England.

I pick up most of what I know along the way. I don't specifically log on to the internet and google: How's the election going? Mostly, I'm on Facebook. I have friends who post videos and send them on to me. Mostly they're short snippets from Trump's speeches, or Hillary's, or from the debates. Most are negative toward Trump, but I think that reflects my political beliefs and those of my friends.

Trump is definitely a phenomenon. No one thought he'd get this far. A horrible phenomenon, but that's also interesting.

In my circle of friends, someone who likes Trump is a true rarity. I don't know anyone who does.

When I was at school, we studied Hitler, Nazi Germany and the two world wars three or four times, looking at everything that contributed toward the great catastrophe of the Third Reich … I think Trump says incredibly stupid things. But people believe him. Sometimes I feel like Trump voters have lost their minds.

Since I don't actively follow the election, Trump is much more in focus. Trump is a much bigger phenomenon on Facebook than Hillary is. She's not Trump, at least. But she's not really a likeable figure. My boyfriend studies politics, and he says that Clinton would be considered right-wing in Germany. In any case I find the American electoral system problematic. In the end there are only two candidates who have a true chance. If you don't like either, you don't have much of a choice.

Beate Brinkmeier, 40, is a born and bred West Berliner who works for the picture department of a national newspaper and is in the process of getting a degree in psychology.

I'm confronted with the US election because of my work. I follow it on breakfast TV at 7 a.m. not always, but definitely after the debates. My interest still goes that far.

USA Hillary Clinton in Denver
Hillary - a wolf in sheep's clothing?Image: Reuters/R. Wilking

Trump's too stupid for me to find him entirely rotten. I think he may not truly know what he's doing. But maybe that's just being charitable.

Hillary Clinton is a wolf in sheep's clothing. She's a thoroughly dishonest, scheming person. And I think she'll start a war - or at least not contribute to peace.

I think if I were American, I wouldn't vote. Fundamentally, I ask myself as a European how it can happen that the two candidates are this bad. It's pretty horrifying.

I don't have a real preference between the two. I'm really not certain about Hillary Clinton. It's pretty thin to argue that you should vote for her because you want a female president. The problem is: Because she's a woman, she has to prove all the more that she's suitable for the job. As a woman you have to be more aggressive to get taken seriously. And I can't suddenly vote for Angela Merkel just because she's a woman.

As someone from Berlin, I worry about how the fronts have hardened between the West and Russia. Not that I like Putin, but I don't think either candidate will do anything to ease the tension. That's what I'm most worried about.