In Berlin, politicians had been anticipating the outcome for the United States election that came late Tuesday night. Christoph Heusgen, foreign policy advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, first sounded out the US president some time ago about a possible visit to Germany. The hope was that Barack Obama, if he got re-elected, might drop in on Merkel at some point during the first year of his second presidential term.
That visit could happen soon. The invitation to President Obama stands, even if the time and place have yet to be established. Shortly after Obama's electoral victory was announced, Merkel wrote the American president with her congratulations, adding, "I would be pleased to welcome you again soon as my guest in Germany." German President Joachim Gauck likewise sent his congratulations across the Atlantic.
So what does Obama's re-election actually mean for Germany? Will the president set a new tone in German-American relations in the coming four years? From the German government's perspective, the top priority -- not least because of its effects on the global economy -- is the United States' high national deficit. Chancellor Merkel and her strategists have expectations for Obama to finally consolidate his country's budget. "The time of policies financed by debt has come to an end, and the US knows this," says Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). "Obama needs to demonstrate that he can get the deficit under control," stresses Philipp Missfelder, the foreign policy spokesperson in the federal parliament, the Bundestag, for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).