President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union reflect a political uprising in the West over economic inequities spawned by the mishandling of globalization.
“The current path of globalization demands a course correction,” Obama said in a speech in the Greek capital defending the institution of democracy.
The president pointed to his Democratic Party’s bruising defeat in last week’s election and his support for the transition of power in the White House to stress his belief in the superiority of democracy over all other types of governance.
“As you may have noticed, the next American president and I could not be more different,” Obama said. “We have very different points of view. But American democracy is bigger than any one person.”
He also suggested that he hopes voters in future elections will upend the new political order in Washington, saying democracy’s power is in its ability to “correct for mistakes,” including by those elected to office.
“Any legislation that is proven flawed can be corrected through the process of democracy,” he said.
White House officials said the speech had not been written before last week’s election.
More broadly, Obama outlined his deep concerns about the potential fracturing of Europe’s political order under populist challenges born out of anxieties over globalization.
“All institutions in Europe have to ask themselves: how can we make sure that people in individual countries feel their voices are being heard?” Obama said.
He is trying to use his last European trip as president, which takes him to Athens and Berlin this week, to make one last effort to influence European leaders’ approach to the continent’s big challenges in economics, security and immigration.
Greek leaders welcomed Obama’s public support during his stay in Athens for German-led creditors to ease the country’s debt burden.
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