Saving Democracy, One New Leader at a Time

Feb 10, 2022

Alice Barbe, a French political activist, recently shared her ideas, hopes and solutions on how politics ought to work. Do you think she is headed in the right direction?

Alice Barbe is a French social entrepreneur, mostly known for having co-founded and managed Singa, an international organization supporting refugees’ inclusion in Europe and Canada. She recently launched the Academy for Future Leaders in France, in order to support civic leaders willing to enter politics and to promote progressive values. Alice’s work has been supported by the Obama Foundation through a scholarship, Ashoka and the Global Pluralism Center. In 2021, she published a book about civic engagement, « One is not born an activist, but rather becomes one.

In many, perhaps most countries in the West, there is a wide and growing gap between citizens and their political leaders. Governments often fail to deliver on basic aspects of the social contract and voters sometimes respond by endorsing extreme solutions on the right or the left. Populists have not proven any better at delivering what voters want, so anger and frustration increase while democracy suffers. COVID made it worse. On the on hand, most governments in most places gathered extraordinary powers during the pandemic. On the other hand, few governments actually translated that power into better outcomes for their citizens.

Even as the pandemic seems to be easing, the residue remains: more inequality, more inflation, more economic and social stress. If there is a silver lining, it is that our sorry condition has caused some people to rethink how politics ought to work and try to reinvent, rather than tear down, democratic processes and institutions. Alice Barbe, a French political activist, has founded the Academy of Future Leaders to do exactly that. Alice was a finalist in last year’s Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize and recently shared her ideas, hopes and solutions.

Do you think she is headed in the right direction?

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