Olivier Ferrand, the founder of French think tank Terra Nova, died an untimely death on June 30, 2012 in the South of France, where he had just been elected deputy for the district of Marseilles North-East. He was 42.
Olivier founded Terra Nova in 2008 as a nonprofit organization that publishes recommendations on topical economic, social, and institutional issues on the French domestic policy agenda. In a very short period of time, Terra Nova 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 a constructive French posture in the European Union and more structural reform at home. On the whole, it has been a voice for enlightenment in 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, 2012, 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.