German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned of a Trump effect sweeping Europe, as right wing populists seek to seize the momentum of the Republican candidate's shock victory in the US presidential election.
"Demagogic populism is not only a problem in America," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Bild daily. "Elsewhere in the West, too, the political debate is in an alarming state."
Donald Trump's victory in the Tuesday (8 November) election comes with populist anti-immigrant parties expected to make significant gains in elections in France and Germany in 2017.
In the wake of the refugee crisis support for the far right AfD party has surged in Germany, where it now holds seats on half of the country's state assemblies.
Populist movements are on the rise, said Schaeuble, because "the elites in politics, business and society do not always provide a good impression," and the reasons for their decisions are sometimes opaque.
"Everyone must be ready to learn, and if we are open to the prospect of change and the ability to rethink, demagogic populism would have a hard time," he said.
His words were echoed by Hans-Peter Friedrich of the Bavarian CSU – sister party of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU – who said that many voters felt they no longer had control over issues such as immigration policy or the European Central Bank.
"If there are no answers provided by the main parties in our country, they will turn to populists," Friedrich told Bild.
Germany's EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, a senior CDU member, said that politicians needed to be better at communicating complex issues to voters, to counter the simplistic solutions offered by the populist right.
"Things are getting simplified, black or white, good or bad, right or wrong. You can asked simple questions, but one should not give simple answers," Oettinger told Deutschlandfunk radio.
In the wake of Trump's sweeping victory in the US Presidential election on Tuesday, AfD leader Frauke Petry was quick to offer her congratulations.
Merkel offered to work with Trump on the basis of a shared commitment to values such as democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and people's race, religion and gender. Merkel is widely expected to stand for a fourth term in September's election next year and polls put her Centre-Right party around 10 points ahead of their nearest rivals, the Social Democrats who currently share power with her.