Update (July 10): the same post was published by the Peterson Institute.
Olivier Ferrand, the founder of French think tank Terra Nova, died of an untimely death on June 30 in the South of France, where he had just been elected deputy for the district of Marseilles North-East. He was 42.
Terra Nova, founded in 2008, owed its very existence to Olivier’s extraordinary drive. In a very short period of time it has already made multiple impacts – not least nudging France’s center-left Socialist Party into accepting the principle of open primaries to select their Presidential election candidate, as well as advocating for a constructive French posture in the EU and more structural reform at home. On the whole, Terra Nova has been a voice for enlightenment of the domestic policy debate, of which there are far too few in France. One can only hope that Olivier’s legacy will prosper in this promising institution.
As a prominent member of the new generation of deputies who were elected on June 17, he was also an inspiration for the entire French public and looked forward to promoting bold reform initiatives in the National Assembly. As such, his passing away is a sad loss for the cause of reform in France. My home country has a glaring need for assertive political entrepreneurship and willingness for risk-taking in policymaking, qualities that Olivier had in spades.
On a personal level, I had known Olivier since the late 1980s, and like all his friends I will severely miss his humanity, optimism, and boundless energy. All my thoughts are to his wife and daughter.