Merkel rival Schulz claims chancellor is too soft on Trump


Martin Schulz criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday for not taking a tough enough line against US President Donald Trump. The center-left Social Democrat (SPD) is looking to unseat the 3-term conservative chancellor when Germany holds federal elections in September.

In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Schulz slammed his Christian Democrat (CDU) rival for refusing to stand up to the US leader or challenge undiplomatic behavior.

“The German chancellor must sometimes dare to be in conflict with the American president. Up to now, she has only done that in abstract terms,” said Schulz.

“You can also give a president a clear no. I would say to Trump: We don’t agree with your reasoning over a military build-up, which isn’t justified by anything.”

Trump has made a number of incendiary comments about Germany and its government, both on the campaign trail and since taking office. He once said Merkel was “ruining Germany,” by taking in so many refugees, and later called the country “very bad” at a NATO meeting for its stark trade imbalances with several allies.

Schulz: No concessions to Trump, Putin, Erdogan

The former EU president added that his criticism “was not just for Merkel.” With an eye to the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, Schulz said that “a democratic government needs to ask itself if it wants to join in consensus declarations with autocrats.”

Rather, the German government ought to “stand firm on matters of climate protection, migration and development policy.”

“Should we be making concessions to Trump, Erdogan and Putin? No,” Schulz told the newspaper, also referencing the leaders of Turkey and Russia.

Although Schulz rode a wave of enthusiasm for a time in January after his candidacy was first announced, he has seen his numbers steadily decline in favor of Merkel in the intervening months. The latest survey from polling agency INSA shows 37 percent of German voters in favor of Merkel’s CDU, while only 24 percent said they plan to vote SPD.