'Nothing confers such honour on the reformer of a State, as do the new laws and institutions which he devises.' This passage from the concluding chapter of Machiavelli's The Prince is well known to all students of political thought and political historians, as well as all those directly and practically involved in politics. Machiavelli's statement is both a reference point and a background element against which our thoughts on the future of Europe will most definitely be reflected. The project for a post-national democracy in Europe represents a caesura, a detachment, and probably a fracture (not too traumatic, we hope) with European political tradition, to the creation of which in fact Machiavelli himself contributed, through his theories on the post-universalist principality, founded on the clear distinction between the modern state and both the empire and the church, which had both tried, with difficulty, to coordinate the plurality of power centres in medieval Europe. Machiavelli certainly lies at the origin of a continental European political tradition that is deeply marked by both the cultural and the symbolic construction of the nation, with the involvement of large human masses, and by the centralization of the decision-making tools in the state institutions (Mann 1993; Reinhard 1999; Tilly 1990). If Europe intends to move towards a form of political unity ratified through the promulgation of a European constitution, 'new laws' and 'new institutions' are clearly required, and these will contain an element of hazard, of risk, although such margins of unfathomability will be compensated for by the strength and grandeur of the prospects that link them, as well as the economic and institutional advantages, on both the domestic and foreign political front, that a strong European unity can guarantee for the continent. For Machiavelli, this foundation of a new reality was the work of a single, vigorous and talented man, able to profit from the favourable combination of events to create a new reality.
In the conditions of representative democracy that are so typical of the post-1989 European states, this choice for the community of European citizens can consist only in the definition - in the free and public space of public opinion - of standards of behaviour shared by a qualified majority, if not by an