Angela Merkel’s main rival in Germany’s election furiously criticised US President Trump’s treatment of her at the NATO summit. pic.twitter.com/XJw2RwwN5O
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) May 30, 2017
It would be an understatement to say that President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not get along well at NATO last week. She shaded his wall, and he described Germany as “very, very bad” for the U.S. on trade. The entire mess led Merkel to declare that Germany can no longer count on the U.S. following a series of “unsatisfactory” talks about the Paris Climate Agreement and other subjects. In response, Merkel’s biggest political opponent in the upcoming election, Martin Schultz, has slammed Trump’s treatment of Merkel. Of course, Schultz also takes a dig at her, too, but his main target is the American president:
“No freely elected head of government in our country should allow him — or herself — to be humiliated in this way, the way [Trump], like an autocratic leader, believed he could inflict humiliation in Brussels. Election campaign or no election campaign, in this situation let me be entirely clear: The chancellor represents all of us at summits like these. And I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government. That is unacceptable.”
Schultz, a Social Democrat who once led European Parliament, is widely considered to be the biggest threat to Merkel’s 11-year reign as chancellor for the upcoming September elections. Although she’s still leading in the polls, Shultz stands as a “formidable” rival, and should he rise victorious, German citizens now gain confirmation that neither their current leader nor her possible replacement will cave to Trump’s intimidation tactics.
However, last week’s Trump shenanigans should have come as no surprise. He already set the stage with some White House handshake weirdness with Merkel in March. At the time, he also reportedly handed her a bill for billions “owed” in NATO defense. Ivanka Trump recently tried to convince a German audience that her dad was a great advocate for women, only to be greeted with audible groans, so Germany isn’t buying what the Trumps are selling.
Still, it is significant that Merkel’s main rival has lashed out at Trump. Sure, Schultz is working to position himself for the election, but he also stressed that his ultimate point was to speak out against how Trump disrespected Merkel and, in turn, Germany as a whole. On Monday, Schultz also tweeted that the “best response to Donald Trump is a stronger Europe.”