Democracy in Jeopardy: French Regional and Departmental Elections

What follows here is my first commentary on electoral politics in France for this series on “Democracy in Jeopardy”. It is part of an ongoing series of commentaries to explore a number of specific settings – I have chosen France, India and the US.  I write these commentaries from my personal perspective as someone who has lived in all three countries but also as an interested observer who has studied and written about electoral politics academically. All three have long been identified as strong democracies that are all, nonetheless, being confronted with particularly serious challenges today.  I started this series with a general commentary on democracy in jeopardy (available here), and I will be linking these specific case studies to this overall perspective from time to time.  Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: French Regional and Departmental Elections”

Democracy in Jeopardy: A Running Series of Commentaries on the US, France and India

The shock of Trump lingers among those of us – of which I am one – who had not fully understood that democratic societies are not permanent fixtures in the political scheme of things. In an effort to record my own appreciation of the fluidity of democracy, I have decided to start a running series of commentaries on “Democracy in Jeopardy”. They will include three case studies of how democracies are being challenged today – case studies in which I am personally interested – the Bengali elections in India, the PACA regional elections in France, and the statewide elections in the American state of Virginia. They all involve “sub-national” elections that are occurring this year (2021), with significant national implications for the future of democracy in each country.  But first, I start the series here with some personal reflections on why I am inspired to write about the overall issue of democracy in jeopardy. Continue reading “Democracy in Jeopardy: A Running Series of Commentaries on the US, France and India”

Further Reflections on the US Return to Global Health

Following the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on 20 January 2021, we have been treated to a lively first 10 days – announcing new directions on COVID-19, climate, racial equity, the economy, health care, immigration, and restoring America’s global standing.  While all these initiatives are very welcome, my focus here has been on the Biden Administration’s top domestic priority of controlling the pandemic – but from my usual global and multi-stakeholder perspective. And the good news on that score is that the US has returned to linking that domestic priority to active engagement in global health.  I shared my preliminary reflections on this good news last week (21 January 2021 and available here), and I have appreciated the lively reader comments and questions. Here is an update at the 10-day mark for the unfolding of the Biden Administration’s busy agenda on pandemic and health issues, along with my responses to the points raised by readers about the nature of US engagement globally and the prospects for a global response to the pandemic. Continue reading “Further Reflections on the US Return to Global Health”

Municipal Elections in France from the Perspective of an American Observer

This is an essay on the municipal elections in France, not on the COVID-19 hysteria that has taken over our thoughts and deeds for the uncertain future.  My focus is on the similarities and differences between municipal elections in France and in the US. I draw on my personal experiences with municipal elections in the US and my personal observations of the municipal campaigns in the town of Grasse.  While there are many paths to a political career,  and many levels of civic activism, whether in the US or France, the politics at the municipal level highlights the significance of the adage “All politics is local”.

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Reflections on RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at a time when her loss to the US Supreme Court — and to America – promises to wreak havoc on the American political scene. Rest in peace, dear “notorious” RBG. And deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues,  law clerks and admirers. She is someone who reached out to and embraced a wide audience. “Fight for the things that you care about,” she said.  “But do it in a way,” she emphasized, “that will lead others to join you.”  I am among those who benefited and learned from this commitment  of hers to both action and inclusiveness.

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Rest in Peace, John Lewis

It was an impromptu afternoon in April. The US Representative John Lewis and the French President Emmanuel Macron caught everyone by surprise as they showed up unannounced at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, walking leisurely together and chatting over the inscriptions on the walls there. That was in 2018, when the two had instantly warmed to each other on the occasion of President Macron’s address to a joint session of Congress. The spontaneity in their new friendship had led the President to ask Representative Lewis for a tour of the Memorial on that warm springtime afternoon. No wonder, then, that President Macron was so personal in expressing his condolences over the passing of this civil rights icon on July 17. As I reflect on my own memories of John Lewis’ legacy, I am heartened by this connection to President Macron. Continue reading “Rest in Peace, John Lewis”