Based in Paris, Books and Ideas has been featuring research from France and elsewhere for some time now. As we hit the presidential campaign, we are convinced that fostering debate is more necessary than ever. So we have asked French and international researchers we feel close to, to contribute ideas to the campaign.
Less than three months away from the French presidential election, we may think we know everything about this campaign: the nominees have been announced and the campaign has hit its stride; budgets are debated; controversies are already in full swing. This is democracy as usual. One crucial element is missing though: ideas. Presidential candidates seem unable or unwilling to formulate long-term ambitions for France and the European Union. A surprising number of questions remain unexamined. Crucial issues are being sidelined, or altogether ignored.
How can we make the crisis a thing of the past and bring back growth and employment? Where should the euro look for its future? Is there any room left for the environment in the present context? These questions are shared by all Europeans and have relevance everywhere, as do the expression of cultural diversity in a modern democracy, the right to housing, the use of nuclear energy, tax evasion, the rise of populism, the role of police forces in keeping the peace, individual freedoms and the internet.
Democracy strives on debates and feeds on ideas. Presidential elections should not boil down to smart political deals and jockeying for position. Social sciences have to keep campaigning for ideas.