Who will succeed Hélène Carrère d'Encausse as Permanent Secretary? Until now, we believed that the games were done: Amin Maalouf was the only one to stand as a candidate and seemed, not unanimously, but consensus. And behold, without it being official, there is talk of a candidacy of Jean-Christophe Rufin. It was a dramatic turn of events, because Rufin had hinted that he did not want the charge. But, no doubt, for democratic reasons, he wanted there to be a real election offering the choice between at least two candidates.
Since the death of Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, historian and specialist on Russia, on August 5 at the age of 94, the essential office of the Permanent Secretariat has been vacant, which had not happened since 1944.
An election scheduled for September 28
There is nothing in the statutes for one of the immortals to make the transition. At the end of last week, the academicians finally agreed to appoint the dean of the Society, Pierre Rosenberg, to organize an election to designate the new "Perpetual". It will take place on Thursday 28 September, in the afternoon.
The amazing thing about this succession "fight" is that it will take place between two great friends, Amin Maalouf appreciates Jean-Christophe Rufin, and vice versa. Moreover, the second had received the first at the French Academy, with a strong and moving acceptance speech, it was in June 2012.
Hélène Carrère d'Encausse's election to the post of Permanent Secretary for nearly a quarter of a century was a decisive moment for the Society. It is a heavy burden that consists of embodying France in the world, defending and valuing the French language in all territories and confronting increasingly invasive Anglicisms or inclusive writing.
At the same time, the Permanent Secretary, supported by the other immortals and the staff of the Academy, must take care of the life of the institution almost daily, and, a task that requires a lot of diplomacy: to find talents to fill the vacant chairs. Because there are still five Immortals to replace: Marc Fumaroli, Jean-Denis Bredin, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, René de Obaldia, and Hélène Carrère d'Encausse.