The Struggle for Europe

The Struggle for Europe

The crisis of Europe and the French left

Constitutions are often born out of tumultuous moments—after a war or in a moment of collective reconciliation. By contrast, the European Constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters last spring sought to translate half a century of peace into a formal political settlement. Although proponents of the constitution, especially within the European left, were dismayed by the No votes, some of them believe that it is possible to turn the rejection into an opportunity both for the left and for the European Union project as a whole.

The EU went through several transitions in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Its elites advanced vigorously a project of expanding links among member states across the continent. It seems clear now that they were unable to persuade a substantial majority of their own citizens to embrace their vision. Opposition by the political extremes—both far left and far right—is not surprising. However, the No votes in May and June demonstrate t...

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