European universities indoctrinate their students on the
evolution of European, read Greek-Roman, history, philosophy and politics with
great care. Democracy is among their favourite themes as they claim not only to
have invented the principles but also wax lyrical about its long-cherished
practice in the ancient Greek and Roman republics. Originating from the Greek
word dēmokratía, meaning “rule by the people”, this entire complex
of views, beliefs and practices was popularised by post-Renaissance savants like
Thomas Hobbes (16th century), John Locke (17th century) and Jean-Jacques
Rousseau (18th century) as a European construct and the best form of
governance. The works of Socrates, his student Plato, and Plato’s pupil
Aristotle—all Greeks, were treated as the foundational literature of the
political philosophy of democracy.
The term democracy first appeared in 5 BCE and explained the form of government practised in Greek city-states like Sparta and Athens. Democracy stood out in dramatic contrast to aristokratia, literally “rule of an elite”, in other city-states.
For the west, ancient Greece is rightly the land where democracy originated. The Roman republic in 454 BCE sent a special commission to Greece to study democracy and formulate Roman law accordingly.
Democracy as an exclusively western idea is a myth, as works like the Avadanasataka (Century of Noble Deeds), in Sanskrit during 3 BCE and Acharanga Sutra, written in Prakrit during the 5BCE demonstrate. These were the earliest works to mention “rule by the people” in ancient India. But these works have never won global recognition because of the absence of further investigation and research by succeeding generations of Indian scholars. It may have been tempered by the fact that the major Indian states in the last millennium have been monarchies, unlike Europe.
But there is an echo of this in the novel Point Counterpoint (1928), whose author Aldous Huxley provides a window of opportunity to a cheating husband. He tells his wife that he is going to the British Museum library in London to study democracy in ancient India. In reality he is meeting his mistress.
or the west, however, ancient Greece is rightly the land where democracy originated, was nurtured and put into practice before aristocracy and monarchy again dislodged citizen’s rule. The Roman republic in 454 BCE sent a special commission of three senior senators to Greece to study democracy and formulate Roman law accordingly.
Magna Carta Libertatum translates from Latin into English as “the Great Charter of Liberties”, issued by Britain’s unpopular king John Lackland on June 15, 1215, and annulled by Pope Innocent III on August 24, 1215. It is considered the next big leap in the journey of European democracy. Although Magna Carta was an understanding between the king and his barons, in which the rights of ordinary people had no place, over time the document attained mythic status as a charter of liberty and democracy. The Glorious Revolution of 1688, which overthrew James II and installed his nephew and son-in-law William III as ruler of England, added legitimacy to the democratic journey of continental Europe. The Bills of Rights of 1689 that conferred certain basic civil rights on citizens formalised the start of a democratic era in Europe.
A very popular chat between Mrs. Elizabeth Powell of Philadelphia, a friend of George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of America, is quoted everywhere on the Internet. At the end of America’s Constitutional Convention in 1787 she asked Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
The Berlin Wall was down, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were gone, and democracy and liberty were in the air. Ex-Warsaw Pact states like Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia were sovereign entities.
Although it was in North America that democracy sank deep
roots, and in the 18th century it was tried out in other parts of the world
with varying degrees of franchise, Europe is considered the cradle of democracy
and democratic values.
urope’s experience with the rise of dictators and fascism, their ruthless militarism and fancy for war in the 20th century awakened the collective conscience of the continent. Post-World War II Europe consolidated itself with accords like the Treaty of Paris (1951) which set up the European Coal and Steel Community, and the Treaty of Rome (1957) establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), which created a common market built on democratic values. It was a precursor to today’s European Union.
During the EEC’s lifetime it rejected attempts by non-democratic countries to enter the community. In 1962, Franco’s Spain applied and was rejected as it was not a democratic nation. Greece joined in 1961 but its membership was suspended in 1967 after a coup and restored only in 1981, when democracy returned. Spain and Portugal joined in 1986, years after the deaths of their dictators, Francisco Franco (1975) and Antonio Salazar (1970).
By the 1990s Europe was ready for greater integration through the Maastricht (Netherlands) Treaty of February 7, 1992 to set up the European Union (EU). Signed by 12 countries, it was a major step towards the grand dream of a European super-state that would not only be the world’s largest trading bloc but also the densest concentration of democracies.
By this time the Berlin Wall was down, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were gone, and democracy and liberty were in the air. Ex-Warsaw Pact states like Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia (split peacefully into Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993) were sovereign entities with complete control of policy. Many former Soviet republics like the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia also craved entry though some were low on the democracy index.
The Treaty of Lisbon (2009) expanded EU membership to 28 countries eventually, all wedded to the group’s “universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law”. The creation of the EU was aimed at ending bloodshed and promoting economic growth by establishing lasting peace.
A closer examination of this new union shows a number of ex-Warsaw Pact states and ex-Soviet republics. Today, they make up more than one-third of the membership. Influenced perhaps by the end of the Soviet era and the unshackling of dictatorships across the continent, the union’s expansion was uncharacteristically rapid by its own standards. In its earlier iterations the group opted for extreme caution while assessing a potential entrant. It took 40 years (1951-92) to double its membership from six to 12. In the next two decades it added 16 more, mostly ex-communist, ex-Warsaw Pact or ex-Soviet republics. That includes the three largest, Poland, Romania and Hungary.
While NATO functioned as an alliance of equals, with no US role in internal affairs, Soviet allies were more like satellites, their every action under scrutiny.
The decision to admit them all at once was well-intentioned
and bold but it was to prove fateful. When these states entered the Union, they
brought not only their market potential and geographic identities but also
their fraught histories and idiosyncratic political outlooks. Years of
subservience to the Soviet-communist universalist worldview had,
counter-intuitively, bred an acute consciousness of national identity.
Polish resistance to earlier attempts at assimilation by the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Germanic empires is the stuff of legend. The story of Solidarity and Lech Walesa in Gdansk was just the latest instance. In the numerous smaller states under its umbrella the Soviet yoke produced a similar if lesser resistance. The Hungarian (1956) and Czech (1968) uprisings are two examples. The EU, on the other hand, requires a dilution of national identity and a more universal outlook. The union was thus always likely to be problematic. At the same time, few of the new members had a solid history of democratic governance or the rule of law.
hen the United States of America formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance with nine European allies in 1949, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) considered a counter force. Six years later in 1955 the USSR, with seven of its European allies, founded the Warsaw Pact of communist states.
According to the text of the Pact it was a defensive alliance. It was presented as a collective agreement by independent states against western aggression, but Soviet policy was decisive even in the internal affairs of member states. While NATO functioned as an alliance of equals, with no US role in internal affairs, Soviet allies were more like satellites, their every action under scrutiny. The pact was also a one-way street with no exit option for members. The sole exception was Albania, which left with Chinese support in 1968. In 1956, Hungary tried to pull out but was crushed by the USSR. In 1968, Czechoslovakia’s democratic reforms were scuppered by Soviet tanks that rolled into Prague to rescue communism.
A democracy is not necessarily liberal. Just because something is not liberal, it still can be a democracy.
Twenty years later, in 1988, the alliance finally breathed
free air when Mikhail Gorbachev, who succeeded Konstantin Chernenko, proposed
that members could choose the kind of politics they wanted and gave an
assurance that the USSR would not interfere in the internal affairs of any
In the Soviet Union, until 1989 the Communist Party effectively controlled all levels of government. The party ruled the country. All successors of Stalin from Khrushchev to Gorbachev were party general secretaries. All Warsaw Pact states were also one-party regimes led by communist dictators such as Enver Hoxha (Albania) and Nikolai Ceausescu (Romania).
Against this backdrop, neither internal reform nor pre-membership sanitisation before admission to the EU had much effect on the tendencies of excessive concentration of power in the executive, use of public office for personal benefits or politicisation of the judiciary. All of these are anathema to democracy but a fact of life in ex-Warsaw Pact states. Indeed, Hungary, Poland and some of the other former communist states are taking a political trajectory in stark contrast with traditional European values and liberal democracy. There is a new term to describe it, “illiberal democracy”.
These governments are beyond the usual checks and balances or church-state separation. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, for instance, is a defender of “Christian values”. In 2014, he claimed that “A democracy is not necessarily liberal. Just because something is not liberal, it still can be a democracy.” In Poland, mirroring the image of Pakistan and China, the ruling Law and Justice Party has taken control of state-funded mass media, causing the resignation or dismissal of nearly 200 journalists in recent months.
It is the young people in these countries who support the nationalism project of right-wing politicians. Europe is turning into an extension of authoritarian regimes where liberal values are at stake.
Political control of the judiciary was so absolute that in
November 2017, members of the European Parliament (MEP) adopted a resolution
that “the situation in Poland represents a clear risk of a serious breach of
European values, including the rule of law.” On March 1, 2018, MEPs urged “the
EU Council to undertake swift action in accordance with the provisions of the
Treaty”. In December 2017, the EU Commission recommended proceedings against
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for their refusal to accept and resettle
immigrants in accordance with the agreed principles.
Hungary’s right-wing populist party, Fidesz, has won two elections in a row, while Poland’s Law and Justice Party maintains a clear lead in all recent opinion polls. The rewriting of history in Poland is coupled with the adoption of a new law making it illegal to blame Poland for the Holocaust. Hungary’s parliament on June 20 passed a law that criminalises lawyers and activists who help asylum seekers. It is now illegal to help refugees file their petitions for permission to stay in the country. Anyone doing so faces jail time.
The Czech Republic, despite economic stability and the lowest unemployment rates in Europe voted for right-wing populists. Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ victory is a reflection of his strongman image and corporate governance. Slovakia is also making strides in suppressing democratic ideals.
Curiously enough, it is the young people in these countries who support the nationalism project of right-wing politicians. By contrast, in the traditional democracies it is mostly the 50+ generation that supports such parties. As the May-June 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs explained, “This new consensus is about the rights of the majority”, which means Europe is turning into an extension of authoritarian regimes where liberal values are at stake.
The model of governance adopted by former communist countries is anti-democracy and favours authoritarian regimes and the practice of systematic corruption. The US-based Freedom House think tank, in its 2018 “Nations in Transit” ratings registered great declines in democracy and a consolidation of authoritarian regimes in east European democracies.
hese developments are neither new nor sudden. They had been noted for some years by observers with concern, but not alarm. They were seen as wobbles rather than backtracking and expected to subside naturally over time. In any case, unease with multi-culturalism had been noticed even in stable democracies like France and the Netherlands where right-wing movements were gaining significant traction. But no one had reckoned with the refugee crisis which burst like a bomb and overthrew all calculations. This, too, was a consequence of western involvement and interference.
The influx of more than one million mostly Muslim migrants has produced serious strains on long cherished liberal ideals. Stable democracies like the Netherlands sound increasingly jingoistic.
The turmoil in Afghanistan, the Middle East and northern
Africa, a direct result of US interventions, sparked a massive wave of people
fleeing their homes in search of safe haven. Millions fled to Turkey, Jordan
and other neighbours, but a large number also decided to head for EU nations.
Thus began the refugee crisis in 2015, setting off a fierce backlash even in
liberal democracies like the UK, France and Denmark. The reaction was more
extreme in EU members further east.
The influx of more than one million mostly Muslim migrants has led to various reactions among EU citizens, from fears of loss of national identity to an increase in economic inequality to fears about excessive allocations of national wealth to migrants. It has also produced serious strains on the continent’s long cherished liberal ideals. Stable democracies like the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Austria and Belgium now sound increasingly jingoistic, pro-strongman and show constant volatility. Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden are witnessing the rise of radical-right parties, whose support has crossed 20 per cent. In some countries, they are part of government.
Sweden’s far-right Democrats party won 49 of the 349 seats in Parliament in the 2014 election. The party opposes immigration and Turkey’s entry to the EU. Although it accepted 163,000 refugees in 2015, in 2017 Sweden tightened immigration rules, making it harder to reunify refugee families.
Belgium’s radical right VlaamsBelang (Flemish Interest) has emerged as a major challenger to democratic parties. It is gearing to take control of government in the next elections. Its popularity surged after the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels and its anti-Muslim and separatist image is gaining support with every passing day. VlaamsBelang is a breakaway group of the Flemish nationalist party, the Volksunie. Its supporters include former Nazi collaborators in the Second World War. Volksunie lost state funding and access to television in the early 2000s after Belgium’s highest court ruled it was guilty of violating anti-racism legislation.
France is grappling with its own racist and anti-Europe constituency in the National Front, which has seen a dramatic rise in popular support. In Germany the far right agenda includes “a ban on construction of mosques as Islam does not belong to Germany”.
In Greece, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn, founded in 1980 entered the electoral fray in 2012 and won 18 seats to become the third largest party in Parliament. In the Netherlands, the far-right anti-Muslim Dutch Freedom Party became the second largest after the March 2017 elections. Even the Forum for Democracy, the anti-European Union right-wing party won two seats. Geert Wilders, leader of Freedom, wants to ban the Quran. During a rally in February 2017 he called Moroccan immigrants “scum”.
Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old foreign minister of Austria led the centre-right People’s Party which won 31 per cent of the vote in 2017. In coalition with the right-wing Freedom Party he formed a government in December. The Freedom Party opposes EU immigration policy and democratic rights offered to non-Austrians. These tendencies are echoed among every one of the big five—UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Liberal democracy is under siege in its own home.
n June 2016 the EU suffered a body blow when UK voters in a referendum endorsed an exit from the Union. It is now in the process of withdrawal, which will be completed by March 2019. The vote was accompanied by a massive rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Europe jingoism, neither of which has subsided. The United Kingdom Independence Party, which led the so-called Brexit movement, even proposed a partial ban on face veils, something no major party supported.
France is grappling with its own racist and anti-Europe constituency in the form of the National Front, which has seen a dramatic rise in popular support. In last year’s presidential election it took 20 per cent of the vote. Established in 1972 by former Nazi collaborators and members of the wartime collaborationist Vichy regime, the National Front wants to exit the EU, protectionist economic policies and strict anti-immigration rules. Its presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, daughter of the founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, called globalisation and Islamism two totalitarianisms that are bent on subjugating France. Although she lost the runoff, Le Pen is trying to reinvent her political movement. President Emmanuel Macron’s agenda is on test and as a pro-Europe leader he is in search of partners.
The prize for political volatility goes to Italy. The birthplace of Benito Mussolini and fascism is again becoming an incubator for a new kind of political experiment, the time of “Basta Euro” or “no more euro”.
In Germany, the far right Alternative für Germany—started in
2013—won 13 per cent of the vote to come third in the federal election of 2017.
Its agenda includes “a ban on construction of mosques as Islam does not belong
to Germany”. Its leader Bjorn Hocke challenged Germany’s collective national
guilt over the Holocaust and Nazi crimes.
Spain’s devastating economic crisis, corruption scandals and migrant problems made it a good candidate for the rise of anti-democratic far-right parties. But it does not have a far-right movement. However, secessionist and sub-national sentiment has taken a dangerous turn, with Catalonia voting for independence in a 2017 referendum. In the tumult that followed Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lost a vote of confidence in Parliament and had to resign.
The prize for political volatility, however, goes to Italy. Grappling with uncertainty since the 2013 elections that saw the emergence of the brand new Five Star Movement led by a former comedian, Luigi Grillo, Italy was particularly hit by the immigrant tide. Tens of thousands of people made landfall in the country, overwhelming the centre-left coalition of Matteo Renzi. It also hardened anti-migrant, anti-Muslim sentiment to the point that it destroyed the liberal parties in the March 2018 elections.
Many EU countries view orders from Brussels as an attack on their sovereignty. Defying them strengthens their base. They also want to establish their national identity no matter what its impact on the EU.
The outcome is a continuing repudiation of liberal tendencies in favour of pro-strongman, far-right racist rhetoric. The birthplace of Benito Mussolini and fascism is again becoming an incubator for a new kind of political experiment, the time of “Basta Euro” or “no more euro”. The ruling coalition’s leaders are saying “the days of Italy going hat in hand to Brussels are over,”
he European Union now seems leaderless, running helter skelter in search of fresh conviction about its liberal value-based stability, among the founding members at least. One of the biggest problems facing the EU is the way it is managed and the misconceptions to which it has given rise, that unelected bureaucrats in Brussels are subverting the popular mandates of sovereign states.
The union is indeed run by an unelected European Commission from Brussels. It is EU’s executive arm, like the heart of Europe, from which other institutions derive energy and purpose. That is now an increasingly major issue. Led by a president the commission has a College of Commissioners—28 unelected politicians—and nearly 34,000 civil servants who help it undertake its work. Although all commissioners held political office in their respective countries, at Brussels they are supposed to espouse the cause of the European Union without getting influenced by country-specific concerns.
The commission alone is responsible for new European legislation, and the implementation of decisions by the European Parliament and the Council for the EU. Along with the Court of Justice it enforces EU law and ensures they are applied in all member countries. In the event of disagreement on any matter, or a country or group of countries violating any EU provision, the matter is taken up by the commission for redress.
But Brussels has its limitations. For example, when Warsaw and Budapest repeatedly violated EU provisions on settlement of migrants its reaction was tempered by self-imposed limits. Its numerous warnings and threat of criminal proceedings fell on deaf ears in the Polish and Hungarian capitals. Poland was even threatened with loss of EU voting rights. The two countries understand that such proceedings take years to complete and the warnings and threats are therefore essentially empty. They understand that once a country makes it to the EU it has little to fear.
Besides, many EU countries view orders from Brussels as an attack on their sovereignty. Defying them strengthens their support base. They also want to establish their national identity no matter what its impact on the EU.
f voting patterns in recent elections in Europe are any indication, young voters prefer radical, far-right political parties. In east Europe, rising support for xenophobic nationalism comes mainly from young people. They are more concerned about the rights of “sons of the soil” even at the cost of the rule of law. They are drawn increasingly to far-right political shibboleths of common culture, racial identity and religion. The near future is thus clearly visible and not a little disturbing. As the people who will rule the continent for years to come rally behind strongman and racist populism, the EU will have a tough time maintaining liberal values. From democracy’s haven to the new refuge for radical right-wing authoritarianism is an unlikely journey, but it seems to have begun.
As democracy is exposed to authoritarian regimes and far-right myopia, the danger of disintegration becomes more obvious. Many leading political scientists have started predicting “a divided and unfree Europe”.
American political scientist Samuel Huntington in his essay
“Democracy’s Third Wave” (Journal of Democracy, 1991) predicted
that—as happened where democratic nations of the past two waves 1820s-1920s and
1945-1960 reverted to authoritarian rule—the third wave of democracy would also
see “reverse waves”. It was both prescient and chilling; the EU is gradually
moving in that direction.
In the years to come clashes between far-right governments and the EU are virtually certain. The preference of young people to return to their roots is making Europe a more medieval version of the continent than the 21st century liberal-democrat could have imagined. Nowadays EU members are blaming the system for every ill in their home country. Academics, thinkers and writers across the globe feel Brexit will ultimately be fatal to the European Union. As democracy is exposed to authoritarian regimes and far-right myopia, the danger of disintegration becomes more obvious. Many leading political scientists have started predicting “a divided and unfree Europe”.
Twentieth century Europe has been a model of the liberal open society for nascent democracies elsewhere. As authoritarian and populist governments grow in the EU it may send other countries on a similar course. India, for long a peculiar case of democracy flourishing on a flawed foundation, had been expected to yield to military rule long ago. So far it has proved the theorists wrong and there may be a lesson in that. Barring the 21 months of an internal emergency (1975-77), India remained a robustly growing democracy, with voting percentages increasing at each election. Its diversity of faiths, castes, languages and ethnicities in one vast melting pot was a strong safeguard against mono-cultural hegemony.
However, three decades of an open economy, globalisation and social media have changed the character of Indian democracy. The infiltration of news in real time and the reach of social media into the farthest recesses of the subcontinent have made a big difference. As there is a consolidation of strongman governments across the world, India too is led by its strongman, Narendra Modi. In the event of more European nations consolidating on the basis of radical far-right policies, India may not remain immune.
Probably taking a leaf from east Europe, it has started influencing the functioning of the judiciary in right earnest through appointments. A new law mandated the government’s role to appoint judges to the apex court and other courts (it was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court). Even the opposition Congress Party demanded that the Chief Justice of India be impeached in April 2018 when he did not deliver a favourable judgment in a particular case. That prompted constitutional jurist Fali Nariman to call the demand a dangerous trend. If parties started politicising judicial decisions and if a judgment was not liked by the party they may change the bench.
The EU won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for transforming Europe “to a continent of peace”. It may find it challenging to keep deserving the prize as the forces of nationalism become dominant.
On June 18, President Ramnath Kovind addressed a gathering
in Greece on the governing principles of India’s Europe policy. But
developments in Europe are indirectly influencing the functioning of Indian
democracy. For example, despite the presence of a much touted free media, the
Prime Minister Narendra Modi refuses to interact with any TV channel or print
publication except his chosen ones. Like his European and American
counterparts, he prefers social media and government-controlled channels to air
n the last two decades, the world has witnessed changes of immense proportions. Among them, the common European currency, the fading soft power of the US, which is now beset by bizarre political stagnation, the economic inefficiency of Latin American countries, the rise of strongmen in Russia, China and India, increased muscle flexing by China and social and political chaos in the Middle East and Africa are important.
Academics, journalists and thinkers from all parts of the world agree that the geography, people and institutional infrastructure of all continents including Europe will remain the same in coming decades. But considering the reverse wave of democracy, growth of population, unequal wealth distribution and migration of people, an unprecedented rise is likely in totalitarian regimes and concentration of power in all parts of the world.
Unions based on economic considerations and the trade and transit treaties signed in the past few decades are showing fatigue. As in the EU’s case beneficiaries are happy till the benefits keep coming. But when there is a sign of recession or economic austerity, unions and treaties become punching bags. Britain’s exit is a sign of the EU’s diminishing charms. The migrant crisis is the single biggest crisis; the Union may unravel over it. Nearly all eurozone members have said they are against open borders, which has been exploited by migrants. As a protective measure, sooner or later, nations will resort to end the Schengen system and that will lead to the breakdown of the common market.
The EU won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for transforming Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace”. It may find it challenging to keep deserving the prize as the forces of nationalism become dominant. Intellectuals and thinkers from both sides of the Atlantic are predicting the end of American dominance and EU collapse in the not-distant future. The rise of China and its alternative model of global dominance through land and marine connectivity will dominate the new world order. A resurgent Russia with Vladimir Putin and his iron-fisted style would act as catalysts in the de-legitimisation of the US and EU.
t the 44th G7 summit on June 8-9 at La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, US President Donald J. Trump plunged the west into a fresh crisis. He announced punitive tariffs on fellow participants before the summit and lobbed social media and televised grenades at the host Justin Trudeau after leaving for Singapore. Trump refused to be part of the common communique in a showdown over his steel and aluminium tariffs, which not only isolated America but also hardened the stand of other western powers like France, Germany and Canada. Trump challenged the “rules-based international order” and asked G-7 members to include Russia, forcing other participants to unleash a barrage of criticism against him.
The US President may talk of America being ripped off by unfair deals by its own allies but the US economy, according to the International Monetary Fund, was the world’s largest in 2017 with a value exceeding $20 trillion. China was second at $14 trillion and Japan third with $5.1 trillion. Unemployment in the US is low, under 4 per cent. It is a superpower with phenomenal military strength and great financial depth and a huge beneficiary of the world order it created but is now playing the victim and trying to change that order.
However, Trump’s tantrum had a surprising impact on G-7-members. His unilateral stand has united the EU members to deal with any global order Trump may try to impose. The EU now has a rallying point to maintain solidarity and democratic traditions. During the summit French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6-country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”
Unwittingly, Trump may save the union from disintegration.