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Biden Democracy Club: why Europe hesitates to confront the authoritarians




Since taking office, the Biden administration has attempted to reestablish relations with Democratic allies in Europe and to form a united front against authoritarian states like Russia and China. Last month, President Joe Biden hosted a virtual summit of democracies that focused on promoting democracy and democratic values.

But polls indicate that many voters across Europe are not convinced such alliances make sense for their countries. Some prefer to focus on trade and investment with dictatorial powers like China and Russia, while others remain halfway between promoting democracy and economic interests.

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Some Europeans are wary of forming clubs of democracies to confront dictators. Their views reveal nuances in the framing favored by the United States of democracies against authoritarians.

This range of views reflects historical differences and cultural trends, as well as general skepticism about the United States’ role as a bastion of democracy amid political dysfunction in Washington and the potential for another presidency. Trump.

Europeans don’t like to think in terms of friends or enemies, and what [Bidens] summit of democracies is preparing more or less a new cold war between democracies and authoritarianism, explains RenCuperus, senior fellow at the International Clingendael Institute. I do not think that Europe wants to enter into this framework. They are part of a multilateral family.


In the fight against the authoritarians of the world, US President Joe Biden wants the help of Democratic allies. But not all of these allies fully agree with his vision.

A recent poll asked voters in 20 democracies to choose between forming alliances to stand up to countries like China and Russia and taking a softer line that protects mutual economic interests. The YouGov / Global Progress poll of more than 22,000 people then divided the countries into three groups: pro-democracy hard-line supporters, pro-engagement soft-line supporters and a middle group dubbed the hand shooters. . These torturers include Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands, and their populations show clear cracks in the weight to be given to the export of democratic values.

Respondents in France, Italy and Spain expressed fewer doubts: economic cooperation trumps democratic alliances, placing them in the camp of the soft line. In contrast, Sweden and the United Kingdom sided with the pro-democracy camp, along with the United States and Canada.

Why we wrote this

Some Europeans are wary of forming clubs of democracies to confront dictators. Their views reveal nuances in the framing favored by the United States of democracies against authoritarians.

And while these views do not necessarily prevent NATO allies from standing firm against Russia in the current standoff in Ukraine, for example, it indicates ambivalence in Europe about framing democracies against authoritarians in the United States. President Bidens.

Behind that hesitation lies the narrative that the United States lost much of its shine as a global democratic beacon in the midst of President Donald Trump’s tenure, capped by the Capitol Riots debacle at the end of his term. . There are also unique historical ties between individual countries and Russia, and support for strong economic ties with China. More than that, Europe with its multitude of languages, cultures and styles of governance does not fit so well into black and white thinking, says Ren Cuperus, political columnist and senior researcher at the Clingendael International Institute, a group of reflection in The Hague.




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