Berlin cannot rely on an “erratic” Donald Trump, and it remains unknown whether it can rely on the US as a whole, German chancellor candidate Martin Schulz has stated.
Schulz, a Social Democrat (SPD) and the main challenger to Angela Merkel in the upcoming September election, made the comments at a party convention on Sunday.
“We don’t know whether we can rely on the US, but we know very well that we can no longer rely on an erratic President Donald Trump,” Schulz said, as quoted by Bloomberg.
He went on to accuse Merkel of being soft on Trump, saying his SPD party won’t give in to the US president’s “defense-spending logic.”
That comment was in reference to remarks made by Trump that Germany owes the US and NATO “vast sums of money,” stating that Berlin and other members of the alliance don’t pay their fair share towards defense spending.
Schulz knocked Merkel for not flat-out rejecting Trump’s demands to boost the country’s defense spending.
The SDP politician also accused Merkel of not being hard enough on Trump last month, when she stated that Berlin’s post-war partnerships were “to some extent over.”
He went on to criticize the current chancellor of launching an “attack against democracy” by “systematically refusing debate on the future of the country” and accusing her of arrogance.
“The biggest danger is the arrogance of power,” he said, as quoted by AFP.
Also speaking at the convention was Gerhard Schroeder, Merkel’s predecessor and the last SDP politician to govern Germany.
“What’s going on now in the US, you have to criticize it openly and firmly,” Schroeder said. “I can still remember those who wanted to follow the Americans anywhere, including into the Iraq war.”
That comment is being seen as another hit at Merkel, who was opposition leader during the invasion. She criticized Schroder’s anti-US position in a Washington Post editorial piece in 2003, stating that she backed military action against Saddam Hussein as a last resort.
Schulz’s SDP party is currently trailing Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) by 15 percentage points, according to a poll published by Bild am Sonntag on Sunday.