Towards a Hybrid Global Political Model
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
Created on Thursday, August 25, 2016, 16:32
Right now, at the culmination of an era, Europe feels compelled to begin discarding the political mechanisms through which it has handled all kinds of business for three and a half centuries. And at that historic moment when Germany was reunified once again, as happened almost a century ago the EU was formed. It created a common currency for the entire Europe and in 2004 designed a formal political structure, proclaiming a Europe that was full, free and able to settle its differences through peaceful means.
The unification of Germany upset the balance of Europe as it became once again the strongest European state. The use of the euro as the single currency engendered a high degree of unity not seen in Europe since the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The new European unity somehow meant the abandonment of Westphalia, but it could also be seen as Europe’s return to the international system of Westphalian states which was spread throughout the world, which defended itself and served as an example for much of the Modern Age, only this time as a regional and not a national power.
The EU reduced the sovereignty and traditional functions of the governments of its member states and tried to control their currencies and their borders, although current European politics remain basically national and in many nations objection to EU policies has become a very serious internal problem. The result has been the formation of a hybrid which, from the constitutional point of view, is in between the State government system and a Confederation model. And it operates through ministerial meetings and a bureaucracy similar to that of the Roman Empire, but unlike that Empire, it is struggling to resolve its internal tensions by finding standards and goals to guide it.
The aim of the new political model is monetary union as well as fiscal decentralization through a bureaucracy that is not all consistent with the concept of democracy. On the issue of foreign policy it upholds universal ideals, but lacks the means to achieve them. In addition, it is characterized by different east-west and north-south territorial factions and an ecumenical view of social movements for autonomy such as those in Catalonia, Bavaria and Scotland. But ultimately the current European social model depends on the dynamism of the market and EU policies promote a tolerant openness, even if chauvinistic political practices sometimes emerge that reveal a fear of all kinds of influences that do not come out of Europe.
Consequently, this is a period that is putting the popular legitimacy of the EU to the test, while nation-states are giving up important parts of what was once considered their sovereign authority. Because Europe’s political leaders are still legitimized or rejected by national democratic processes, they often seek to take advantage of this situation, so that disputes arise between different regions of Europe, especially in the economic sphere.
When intense crises occur, such as the one in 2009, the European structure tends to use emergency measures to survive. But when nations are asked to make sacrifices for the EU, the majority cannot understand it and generally political leaders are faced with the option of taking into account the will of their people or that of Brussels.
When the global political system originating from the end of the Cold War was in place, Europe represented the dominant concept of that world order, and its statistics were used to design international structures that were imposed on the rest of the world. But the abstract nature of the new world order is now under full discussion and each day the new world powers are playing a greater and greater role in defining its basic features.
In a new world where continental structures have reached a critical stage, as in the cases of the US, China, Japan, Germany and India, we still do not know how Europe will handle this transition. So far the matter has only been treated from a bureaucratic perspective and this has broadened the sphere of activity of the different European administrative bodies. History has shown that Europe has never achieved unification through administrative procedures and it is not yet known which country will play that unifying role or if the EU will have to be reconstituted.
According to the NGO ‘Political Science’, whichever path Europe chooses in order to try to achieve unity it will have three options: promote the transatlantic partnership, continue to adopt a neutral position or make a silent pact with some of the major powers outside the West or with a group of them. It is an obvious fact that the West can no longer lead the world simply through the influence of what it has been throughout modern history.
Europe’s political future will have to be decided by the Europeans, although its partners on the other side of the Atlantic still have an important role.
Addendum: The only hypothesis coming out of this brief review is that the political model of the republican democratic state that has prevailed in the West for more than three centuries is no longer working and issues of global significance, such as ecological, financial, monetary and military concerns are changing the old Western world order and are leading to a hybrid model that allows the different nations to live in peace.