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LIBERATION
Libération is a French left-leaning daily. Co-founded by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973, it later moved away from its original far-left and anti-advertising stance to embrace a social-democrat view. It was acquired by Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi in 2014.
Macron, Part Deux: France And The World React In 22 Front Pages
Geopolitics

Macron, Part Deux: France And The World React In 22 Front Pages

Newspapers in France and around the world are devoting their Monday front pages to Emmanuel Macron's reelection as French president.

Emmanuel Macron won a second term as president of France, beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen by a wide 58.5-41.5% margin ... oui, mais.

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Vladimir Putin greets Marine Le Pen for an meeting at the Kremlin
Russia
Lisa Berdet

Marine Le Pen’s Russian Ties: What To Know Before France's Presidential Election

What exactly are French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s past and present positions on Putin and Russia?

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has spent five years preparing for a possible rematch against Emmanuel Macron. Her dream, after losing to Macron in a 2017 runoff, was no doubt to hammer away on domestic issues like immigration and economic opportunity against a sitting president criticized for being out of touch with voters.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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But then, the war in Ukraine happened.

Le Pen, who is in striking distance from Macron ahead of Sunday’s election, has been forced to answer questions about her pro-Russia stance that dates back at least a decade.

The leader of the Rassemblement National party insists her views are being mischaracterized by Macron and other critics. But Le Pen also appears to be doubling down on her sympathetic views towards Russia and Vladimir Putin in a country that has largely rallied around the Ukrainian cause and a united Western front against Moscow.

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How Courts Around The World Are Stripping No-Vaxxers Of Parental Rights
Coronavirus
Irene Caselli

How Courts Around The World Are Stripping No-Vaxxers Of Parental Rights

The question of who gets to decide questions around a child's health when vaccines are at play is complicated, and keeps popping up from Italy to Costa Rica to France and the U.S.

It is a parent’s worst nightmare to find out their child needs heart surgery. When it happened to the parents of a two-year-old child in the central Italian city of Modena, there was something extra to worry about: The blood transfusion required for the operation could include traces of the COVID-19 vaccine, which they opposed for religious reasons.

The parents asked the Sant'Orsola clinic in Bologna if they could vet the blood for the transfusion to make sure it hadn’t come from vaccinated donors. When the hospital refused, the parents took it to court, putting their child’s surgery on hold.

The court objected to their decision and temporarily stripped the couple of their parental rights, allowing doctors to go ahead with the transfusion and with the surgery, which took place in early February and was successful.

The court motivated its decision by saying that a parent’s religious belief does not come before a child’s health, reports La Gazzetta di Modena daily. Moreover, there is no scientific proof that the donor’s vaccination status can affect the health of the person receiving the transfusion, added the judge.

Between private rights and public health

The case in Italy is the latest in a series of complicated court decisions regarding parents who are opposed to COVID-19 vaccinations. It is, in some ways, the most complicated anti-vax battle, involving questions over who gets to decide what is in the best interest of a child, who is bound by the law to a parent or legal guardian and cannot decide for themselves.

We’ve seen repeatedly how the pandemic has blurred the sphere between private and public, with courts and medical experts intervening to tell parents the state knows best about a child’s wellbeing. While it is not unprecedented for states and courts to scrutinize what parents do, polarized views about vaccines have been playing out in several court cases involving children.

Several cases have come up of divorced couples who disagreed about the vaccine and ended up in court to decide who should have the final say.

Parents are trying to do what they think is best for their kids

Last year, a judge in Illinois took away a mother’s custody rights because she was unvaccinated, but rescinded the ruling a few weeks later, according to The Chicago Tribune. A New York City judge suspended parental visits for an unvaccinated father unless he got vaccinated or got tested each time he wanted to spend time with his 3-year-old child. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a judge ordered a father to get vaccinated or provide a medical statement explaining why he couldn't.

Visiting rights for the unvaccinated

Attorney Patrick Baghdaserians, who represents the mother in the Los Angeles case, said he was surprised by how far the judge had gone. “I’ve never seen a judge take the next step, which is ... if one of the parents is not vaccinated, that potentially exposes the child to harm,” Baghdaserians told The Los Angeles Times.

In two different cases in Canada, unvaccinated fathers have lost their visitation rights or their custody altogether — in the latter case the child in question is immunocompromised and at risk. A court in British Columbia, Canada, asked an unvaccinated father not to discuss or share anti-vax social media posts with his 11-year-old child.

Family courts in Australia and in Spain are also siding with vaccinated parents in divorce cases — except for a couple of exceptions, including one in Tenerife, Canary Islands, where the judge agreed that the low COVID risk among the youngest family members did not outweigh the unknown long-term effects of the vaccines on children, as reports La Vanguardia.

Studies around the world have concluded that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children, with the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommending them for children ages 5 and older, while trials for children up until the age of five are still ongoing.

Protest against vaccine and mask mandates in Tucson, Arizona

Christopher Brown/ZUMA

A terrible position

"Parents are in this terrible position, trying to do what they think is best for their kids, and then fighting with their estranged spouse to try to do what's best for their kids," Ric Roane, a family law attorney in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told CNN.

In several other countries provisions have been put in place to avoid this kind of legal trouble to arise.

For example, in France, the authorization from one parent is enough for children to be vaccinated from the age of five onwards. Initially it was only possible for the age group 12 to 15, but then the parliament approved a law that covers every child, using the health emergency to ground the decision, as the Paris-based daily Libération explains.

Costa Rica became the first country in the world to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all minors

Moreover, France allows young people to go ahead and get the vaccine without parental approval from the age of 16 onwards. This is in stark contrast to countries like Italy, where several underage teenagers are trying to get their families to allow them to get the vaccine, and even contacting lawyers and medical personnel to get their help.

Bioethical questions

Italy’s state-run National Committee for Bioethics also addressed the issue, siding with adolescents. “If the minor's desire to be vaccinated were to conflict with that of the parents, the Committee believes that the adolescent should be heard by medical personnel with pediatric expertise and that his or her wishes should prevail, as they coincide with the best interests of his or her mental and physical health and public health,” it said in a statement.

Last November, Costa Rica became the first country in the world to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all minors from the age of five onwards, except in the case of medical exemptions. If parents refuse, health authorities have the right to allow the vaccination, reports La Nación newspaper. Earlier, in February, a conversation between a father and a doctor resulted in a heated argument and then a fist fight among several people, with the arrest of seven people, reports CNN.

While more than 90% of people between 12 and 19 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the numbers are much lower for children aged 5-12. Some lawmakers in Costa Rica are calling the mandate a “health dictatorship,” but public health expert Roman Macaya Hayes, who heads the Costa Rican Social Security Institute, declared that "the collective good supersedes the rights of the individual.” For any parent, it’s the hardest pill to swallow.

COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World
Coronavirus
Irene Caselli and Carl-Johan Karlsson

COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World

Teachers, students, parents and society as a whole have suffered through the various attempts at educating through the pandemic. Here’s how it looks now: from teacher strikes in France to rising drop-out rates in Argentina to Uganda finally ending the world’s longest shutdown.

School, they say, is where the future is built. The next generation’s classroom learning is crucial, but schools also represent an opportunity for children to socialize, get help for special needs … and in some villages and neighborhoods, get their one decent meal a day.

COVID-19 has of course put all of that at risk. At the peak of the pandemic, classrooms were closed for 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide, with the crisis forcing many to experiment on the fly for the first time in remote learning, and shutting down learning completely for many millions more — exacerbating worldwide inequality in education.

The decisions to close schools have been some of the toughest choices made during the pandemic. It’s universally acknowledged that children most succeed with in-person classes, but the question still remains whether the health risk to students and those around them is worth it.

The Omicron wave has only caused this debate to heighten, with teacher strikes in France, rising drop-out rates in Argentina and staff shortages in South Africa. But there are signs of hope: Uganda has finally reopened schools this week, ending the world’s longest shutdown nearly 20 months later. Elsewhere, countries struggle in myriad ways to face the challenge of educating and caring for our youth through COVID:

ARGENTINA — Drop-outs and long hair

Argentina had one of the longest disruptions to school activities, according to data by Unicef, with 79 weeks of closure. Officials blame the lockdown for many of the more than 600,000 students who dropped out permanently from classes — a number six times higher than the year before the pandemic, reports La Nación newspaper.

Even for those who did go back to class, the pandemic created huge disruption. In this photo essay, photographer Irina Werning documented the life of a girl in the province of Buenos Aires, and her decision to cut her hair only when she got back to school after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

UGANDA — The world’s longest shutdown

Uganda reopened its schools on Monday after the longest pandemic-prompted shutdown in the world started in March 2020. Child rights groups had criticized Uganda’s decision to keep schools fully or partially shuttered for 83 weeks, leaving 15 million students without education amid mostly failed attempts at switching to a remote learning model.

Barred from school, many boys entered work in mining, street vending and sugarcane planting. According to the National Planning Authority, up to one-third of students are not expected to return to the classroom due to teen pregnancy, early marriage and child labor.

SOUTH AFRICA — Teacher shortages

In South Africa, one of the African countries hardest hit by the pandemic, 70% of students starting third grade this year haven’t learned to read, having missed out on 50% schooling during the last two years. As such, the Department of Basic Education plans a return to a normal school timetable in 2022, despite the country battling a fourth wave of infections driven by the Omicron variant.

But as five inland provinces — the Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West — started their academic year on January 12, the country’s schools still struggle to work around the persistent shortage of teachers, the Mail & Guardian reports. In April 2021, there were 24,000 vacancies spread across schools in all provinces and according to TimesLIVE, some educators are already teaching classes of more than 50 children.

Taking a child's temperature before going to school in Madrid, Spain

Isabel Infantes/Contacto via ZUMA

PHILIPPINES — Learning online with bad Internet

The Philippines also recorded one of the world’s longest education lockdowns. Schools closed completely in March 2020, and only reopened face-to-face classes in December for an experimental two-month trial that involved 287 public and private schools, according to the newssite Rappler.

But as Omicron cases surged, on Jan. 2, the Department of Education put a halt to the expansion phase of face-to-face classes and announced the suspension of in-person classes in areas under a higher infection level, including the metropolitan area of Manila. Online classes have only been accessible to a small portion of the population, because Internet access is not widespread, especially in rural areas that account for more than half of the school population, creating a further gap in education.

UNITED STATES — Homeschooling boom

With waves of school closures around the United States during COVID-19 surges, many parents have taken their children's education into their own hands. The national homeschooling rate increased from 3.3% before the pandemic to 11.1%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some parents wanted to better cater to students with special needs or provide religious-based education, while others felt local schooling options were inadequate.

The boom has particularly striking in the state of Virginia, where home-schooled students are up by 40% compared to 2019, according to the Virginia Department of Education data, now making up to 5% of the total public school enrollment.

Home-schoolers are especially concentrated in conservative rural areas, where they represent up to 20% of students in some counties. Many families opted for homeschooling as a result of the COVID-19 school restrictions and classes going online, with parents fighting against mask mandates, but also to the decision by schools to teach critical race theory.

ITALY — Government flip-flops

Prime Minister Mario Draghi made it a priority to keep schools open despite an upsurge of COVID-19 cases in Italy, with updated restrictions to help contain the spread of the virus. But Vincenzo De Luca, the outspoken governor of the southern region of Campania, issued a decree to delay school opening after the Christmas break. The central government successfully challenged De Luca’s decision in court this week, creating last-minute chaos among school personnel and families. Still, in some towns around the region, mayors decided to keep the structures closed.

This precarious situation has led commentators, like sociologist Chiara Saraceno in this editorial for La Stampa daily to lament not only the missed lessons of the two years, but the last-minute nature of decisions that leave no time to families to get organized. The pandemic has taught us the benefits of flexibility rather than constant crisis mode. Saraceno writes: “We need to break the tabu of the untouchable school calendar.”

SWEDEN — Always open

As the pandemic struck and countries around the world went into lockdown, Sweden became one of the last outposts for refusing curfews and instead relying on health agency recommendations for how to curb the spread — and primary schools were no exception.

But while Swedish kids may have missed out on less hours in class, a 2021 study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology shows that Swedish high school students experienced more frustration and anger than their Norwegian counterparts. The researchers suggest that while social interactions have been more frequent for Swedish students, the higher levels of national contagion may have resulted in an overall greater strain on their mental health, Skolvärlden newspaper reports.

At the peak of the pandemic, classrooms were closed for 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide

Rober Solsona/Contacto via ZUMA

SPAIN — Where are the tests?

As Spanish students returned to classes after the Christmas break, a debate has flared up between the government and teachers, who have demanded routine testing, El Pais reports.

With the number of students expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, the Education Ministry has nonetheless decided that in classes with children under 12 years old, only more than four infections — or 20% — will demand a group quarantine. Teachers have lashed out against the decision on social media, pointing to Germany where frequent rapid tests are carried out on all students, as well as Italy, where the army has been deployed to carry out mass testing on students.

FRANCE — Mass teachers strike

Keeping French classrooms open has been a priority during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases for President Emmanuel Macron, who faces a reelection campaign this spring. But there was backlash from teachers who shut down many of the nation’s schools Thursday with a mass strike in protest against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, reports Libération daily.

Teachers cited confusing and constantly changing COVID rules that have left them exhausted and frustrated. As coronavirus infections have surged since the beginning of January, the government this week eased rules on COVID checks for students to reduce the massive pressure on testing capacity. But the relaxation has caused safety concerns for teachers as France reported a record 332,476 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday — with teachers protesting that the government's lack of communication, frequent changes to testing, and insufficient protection against COVID has left them unable to do their job.

AUSTRALIA — Last to close

Thirty-five of Australia's top academics, doctors and community leaders have made a call for the country’s authorities to allow schools to fully open for face-to-face learning. The open letter, published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday, urges governments to follow WHO and UN advice that "schools must be the last to close and the first to open."

The signatories make three main arguments for full school reopenings. First, that a delay to returning to in-person learning ignores the obligation to deliver the best education possible to children; second, that it puts children’s mental health at risk; and third, that there’s no medical case for face-to-face learning to be suspended awaiting the vaccination of 5 to 11-year-old children, as COVID-19 is a "mild disease" for children with an overwhelming majority recovering without any adverse effect.

Migrants on a dinghy on the English Channel
Migrant Lives
Michel Agier*

English Channel To The Mediterranean: Borders That Kill

The deaths of 27 migrants off the French coast of Calais is one more tragedy on a long list in the European Union. After the initial shock, however, we tend to forget, get used to it and in the end, become indifferent.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The wreckage of a small boat that led to 27 people to die in the English Channel is added to the list of endless death along Europe’s borders.

Unfortunately, there is nothing fundamentally new about this tragedy. Since 1993, at least 50,000 people have died trying to cross the external borders of the European Union, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1999, more than 300 people have died off the northern French coast of Calais while trying to cross the border into the UK, which has been "externalized" on French soil by the 2004 Le Touquet Treaty. The years 2000 and 2010 were marked by reports of casualties at the borders, some horrifying like the two successive shipwrecks on April 12 and 19, 2015 that left thousands dead.

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Namibia Holds inaugural Gay Pride Parade, June 4, 2016
Geopolitics
Genevieve Mansfield

African LGBTQ Activists Fight To Undo Colonial Legacy

Both north and south of the Sahara, Africa's gay, lesbian and trans activists are fighting for their rights … and for many, that means returning to a much earlier history.

Ten years after Tunisia's pro-democracy revolution, activists are continuing to fight for the rights of all … and that increasingly also includes members of the LGBTQ community. Like Tunisia, other African countries are confronting the challenge of overcoming conservative attitudes and the legacy of colonialism that too often still stands in the way of providing equal protection and dignity to gay, lesbian and transgender citizens.

History might surprise you

Back in 19th-century Tunisia, it would not be surprising to overhear a popular song referencing same-sex love or stumble upon a book with an LGBTQ love scene — or even hear gossip about the sexually diverse makeup of the Prince's court. Abdelhamid Larguèche wrote in his historical novel, Les ombres de Tunis, that pre-colonial society in Tunisia was "less repressive," as Ottoman penal codes did not mention homosexuality or sodomy. Today, however, even after the 2011 "Jasmine Revolution," homosexuality is a punishable crime.

Homosexual sex became illegal in Tunisia in 1913, with the passing of Article 230 while the country was under French proctorate. Since then, LGBTQ people have been subject to invasive anal probes used for ‘evidence" for arrests and eventual imprisonment. Yet several civil societies have emerged since the revolution to push for LGBTQ rights in the country. Their first goal: getting rid of the colonial era law, Article 230.

Tunisia

The organization Mawjoudin - We Exist, which began in 2014 is among the leaders in the battle. Ali Bousselmi, their co-founder and executive director, told French newspaper Le Monde that since the revolution, "there have been fewer arrests and the use of anal probes. But with article 230, we remain threatened."

Along with awareness campaigns aimed at repealing Article 230, Mawjoudin works to create a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community. Since 2018, the organization has successfully put on an annual queer film festival. After being canceled last year due to coronavirus, the festival will be back on from July 16-19.

For activist Rania Arfaoui, also a member of Mawjoudin, these measures are crucial for showing that activists are on the ground and leading the charge in their own communities. She told another French daily Liberation that "It is essential to make our struggle visible and to show that the movement for queer rights and feminism is not just the prerogative of Western activists. There are communities in the Global South who are fighting!"

National Women's Day in Tunis, Tunisia, 2016 — Photo: Chedly Ben Ibrahim

Angola

Tunisian activists are not alone in their fight to repeal colonial-era legislation and show how African communities are reclaiming their histories. Some 3,000 miles south of Tunisia, LGBTQ activists in Angola celebrated earlier this year when the portion of the 1886 Penal Code that outlawed "vices against nature" was officially repealed.

Though it was not frequently enforced, the colonial-era law effectively banned homosexual conduct in the country and allowed for greater harrassment and discrimination against LGBTQ people. Like Tunisia, Angola also has a prior history of acceptance toward the LGBTQ community, as its Ovimbundu tribe was known for having had traditions which involved homosexuality and cross-dressing.

Carlos Fernandes, an LGBTQ activist, told Híbrida magazine that the decision this year "removed barriers," and has given their organization a greater ability to dialogue with the government. Now, Fernandes is focusing on creating community spaces for mental health and well-being, as well as addressing the spread of HIV.

Botswana

Another country with a history of LGBTQ acceptance prior to colonization is Botswana, which has also seen the repeal of discriminatory legislation. The country's high court overturned anti-sodomy laws in 2017. The presiding judge, Michael Leburu, later told the The New York Times that the laws were a "British import," and that they had been developed "without consultation of local peoples."

Activists were excited to see the overturn: Anna Chalmers, the CEO for Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana told France 24 that the decision "goes a long way towards giving us our freedom."

Phransisko Kumedzro in Accra, Ghana, for British Vogue — Photo: Stephen Tayo

Ghana

Activists in Ghana, another former British colony, are still struggling to see homosexuality decriminalized. Same-sex relations have been outlawed since the colonial era, and the current criminal law uses similar wording to that which was enacted during the 19th century. LGBTQ activists in Ghana have made international news multiple times this past year, notably when law enforcement shut down the office of a rights group in February, and when 21 activists were arrested in June for "unlawful gathering."

Yet, despite these setbacks, activists have not given up. VOA Afrique reported that the organization, LGBT+ Rights Ghana, launched a fundraiser to "help them get out of prison." The hashtag #ReleaseThe21 has also been trending on social media. But the rise in homophobia, coupled with the President's outspoken opposition to decriminalizing homosexuality, has forced activists to be less vocal in their calls for complete legal decriminalization. Efforts instead have focused on education and legal challenges in the court system.

Like others, Ghana's activists are increasingly using the internet to create an safe spaces for the queer community. In reflecting on ways progress has been achieved in her country in recent years, Tunisian activist Ali Bousselmi said that "talking about it broke a taboo in society, and this has allowed the community to gain allies." Activists across the continent are following a similar path, one step at a time, even though they are rightfully ever impatient for change.

El Pibe de Oro on the world's front pages
CLARIN
Bertrand Hauger

Adios Maradona: 22 World Front Pages On The Death Of Soccer God

El Pibe de Oro, Barrilete, El Dios, Cósmico, D10S, Dieguito, El 10, El Diez ...

The quantity of nicknames is just one more sign that fútbol legend Diego Armando Maradona was in a category of his own. His death Wednesday from a heart attack at the age of 60 was a bonafide global event.

Here are the front pages of 22 newspapers dedicated to the passing of the soccer legend: from dailies in his native Buenos Aires to the cities of his beloved club teams, Naples, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, but also California, France, India and beyond celebrated arguably the greatest artist that the beautiful game has ever seen.

ARGENTINA

Cronica, a daily newspaper in Maradona

Cronica

Clarin

La Nacion

Pagina/12

Portada de La Prensa (Argentina)

La Prensa

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Paris on Oct. 17
Sources
Sandrine Rousseau*

Crisis After Crisis, Freedom Is Disappearing Drip By Drip

Concurrent emergencies have given rise to 'exceptional' measures that then have a tendency of being institutionalized.

-OpEd-

PARIS — We are running from crisis to crisis, from the public safety crisis that began with terrorist attacks and led to a permanent state of emergency, to a health crisis that restricts our freedoms in the name of preventing illness. Then comes the economic crisis and its conjoined twin sister, the social crisis. And of course, brewing in the background of all this is another, massive-scale crisis that will leave many other crises in its wake: the climate crisis.

The French Republic and its democracy are repeatedly put to the test by these events. The pattern is the same: political decision-making is centralized, with action coming from war councils or from rulers, ministers and presidents. And the people, for their part, are required to obey — in the name of a higher interest.

They do so without second thought. Who, after all, would go against protection when there is imminent danger? French men and women are understanding, and necessarily so, because otherwise the pandemic would have taken another turn.

The problem is not so much in the management of the emergency but rather the time that follows. These supposedly "exceptional" measures are gradually becoming commonplace, and then they become institutionalized. Engraved in common law, they become the norm.

A regime of exception was put in place following the attacks of Nov. 13, 2015. It became common law in 2017, allowing for allocations to a given area, simplified searches and the creation of "protected zones' where law enforcement has exceptional powers. UN reports have even expressed concern that freedom of expression, assembly and association are being infringed upon.

The state of emergency declared for the COVID-19 crisis came to an end on July 10. It was replaced by a four-month "transitional regime." But now the pandemic is resurging, and the way it's being managed is leading us to a new legal arsenal aimed at controlling private life. We can already hear the arguments: To slow the spread of the virus and the saturation of hospitals, it is necessary to protect people against their will. Allowing drones to fly over cities, limiting gatherings, preventing people from meeting in bars or on the street, postponing family meals... What will remain of the freedom of assembly and association after this attack?

What will remain of the freedom of assembly and association after this attack?

What is known is that anxiety-provoking climates are conducive to the enactment of laws, restrictions and regulations. Sometimes they have little to do with the crisis. COVID-19 serves as a starting point for the enactment of laws, restrictions, and regulations. Sometimes they have little to do with the crisis, for example, this new policing regime that limits journalists from freely practicing their profession during demonstrations.

None of this, however, is inevitable. While emergencies can require immediate measures that deviate from the law, there are two safeguards to preserve the essential: freedom.

First, respect for democracy. Even in times of crisis — especially in times of crisis — democracy is not only exercised from lawmakers in the capital, but also from municipal, departmental and regional assemblies. While they only have partial sovereign powers, the elected representatives are the foundation of our territorial cohesion and the protection against abuse of power in Paris. Marseille must alert us to this. The absence of consultation with local elected officials is a serious attack on democracy.

Strict new measures return to Paris — Photo: Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto/ZUMA

Whether this order is with good or bad intentions is not the issue. The Fifth Republic and its presidential omnipotence are conducive to this sort of subjugation, but should it be used in this way? No federal republic, no parliamentary regime can take such measures without going through, or at least consulting, the territories and decentralized management.

The second safeguard is to never institutionalize exceptional rules afterwards. Otherwise, each crisis will reduce our liberties, and with them, the very foundations of our republic. If we do not rebuild freedom after this one, then little by little, without even realizing it, we are paving the way for totalitarian management.

If we do not maintain our democratic model, which makes France a country of human rights — and women's rights — then we won't have the strength to defend it later on. This is what a free country is known for: its ability not to renounce its great principles in times of crisis. And this challenge is only just beginning, because the coming climate crisis will put even more strain on our democracies and our ways of sharing life.

We should learn from what is happening now so that we can perfect our democracy, guarantee our freedoms and develop our sense of collective responsibility. Let us seize this moment to reexamine who we are and what our values are, and what makes our French society so dear and so free. Let's use local democracy to form a consensus: decentralize decisions, strengthen the role of Parliament, develop the democratic tools that allow us to fight our own fears, and guarantee independent checks and balances.

If we can do that, these crises will not have been for nothing. They will have helped us affirm what is most essential: our values. To ensure that the future does not push us into darkness, let us reaffirm the values of the enlightenment and safeguard our freedom as citizens.

*Sandrine Rousseau is an economist.


**This article was translated with permission from the author.