The US is divided, as the election shows. Norbert Röttgen is nevertheless optimistic. In an interview, the foreign politician from the CDU explains why he thinks Joe Biden is a good choice.
Norbert Röttgen is a politician with two sides. On the one hand, he is a much sought-after expert on the situation in the US, who made an exciting decision between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. On the other hand, Röttgen is himself an election activist and wants to achieve the main position of the CDU for himself.
Röttgen explains what Joe Biden should do first, and what topics the new US government will be crossing over with Germany. Last but not least, the CDU politician explains why the power struggle in the CDU is not as important as that in the US. But still of some importance.
Chillreport: Mr. Röttgen, how do you explain the election results?
Norbert Röttgen: The election results show that, on the one hand, there is significantly more Trump in the US than we thought in Europe, and on the other, Trump’s negative personality was the final factor in Joe Biden’s victory.
There is now much talk of the divided US – what future does the country hold?
Indeed, the United States is deep and divided into two camps of roughly equal size. And the political system is filled with hatred and unforgiveness. This situation did not arise with Trump, it was there before. But he has brought this situation to a head. This is the starting point from which Biden starts his office. I believe his first job will be to reconcile and build bridges in society, and also with Republicans. By the way, I think Biden is a suitable type for this.
Although he is often considered a bit lazy and active?
I do not share this review. He is definitely an anti-polarizer. That is a great strength for the role of a head of state who wants to reconcile.
Donald Trump had declared himself the election winner beforehand, his current appearance is reminiscent of autocrats. Donald Trump’s style of politics will not disappear.
That’s true. The Republicans are now facing a time to come to terms and reposition themselves. Trump’s presidency was the process of hostile takeover of the Republican Party. There is quite a bit of Trump in the Republican Party now. At the same time, there are forces that now want to draw a line under the Trump era. This argument will keep Republicans busy for a long time.
Many expect the tone of international politics to become kinder with Joe Biden as president. Are the substantive positions of the US also changing?
In some areas it is, for example in climate policy. The US will rejoin the Paris climate agreement under Biden. Other questions, such as the demand for higher German defense spending or the rejection of Nord Stream 2, are an impartial US consensus. But what will suddenly change is the way we treat each other – and that is strongly political too.
Your competitor for the CDU presidency, Friedrich Merz, recently said, “Trump and I – we’ll be fine.” What did you think when you heard that?
I would not have accepted this statement from Friedrich Merz. Now he has communicated it himself without necessity. I was surprised, but I think we can look forward to a good rapport with Joe Biden.
Joe Biden: Norbert Röttgen relies on good cooperation between Germany and the Democrats. (Source: Biden campaign via CNP)
So you mean to say “Biden and I – we’ll be fine”?
I know his foreign policy advisers and I can say about them that I have been getting along very well with them for a long time.
In addition to the corona pandemic and the US election campaign, the CDU election campaign appears to be fading as a topic in public perception. does this annoy you?
No, that is clear. The presidential elections have a historical dimension …
… this does not have the choice for the CDU presidency?
I think it is very important who will be the new CDU president. That determines how the CDU develops, whether it modernizes itself, how it positions itself in the future and whether it remains a people’s party. These are questions that are of great importance to Germany and Europe. But whether we will see Trump or a change of course for another four years is of historical importance to the entire world. We have a pandemic of the century and a recession of the century, deadly and widespread economic damage. The dimensions of these two events are simply different.
Mr. Merz and you express us in countless post-election interviews, including on Chillreport. Armin Laschet, on the other hand, hardly appears in public these days. Is he making a political mistake?
I advocate the principle that my political competitors should leave comments to others.
Mr Röttgen, thank you for speaking to us.