Macron puts France top of ‘soft power’ rank­ings

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

France has leapfrogged the United States and Bri­tain as the world’s top so­called soft power, helped by the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron, a study of coun­tries’ non-mil­i­tary global in­flu­ence showed yes­ter­day.

While France has risen, Donald Trump’s as­cent to the White House has seen the US slip from the top last year to third place in the Soft Power 30 study, com­piled by PR com­pany Port­land Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Soft power mea­sures a coun­try’s abil­ity to se­cure in­ter­na­tional al­liances and in­flu­ence oth­ers through its at­trac­tion and ap­peal.

The study uses polling in 25 coun­tries and dig­i­tal data to mea­sure a coun­try’s in­flu­ence. It takes into ac­count fac­tors such as the abil­ity of coun­tries to at­tract for­eign stu­dents to its uni­ver­si­ties and tourists, as well as its cul­tural al­lure. France’s rapid rise from fifth place last year, when it was in the dol­drums un­der un­pop­u­lar ex-pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, is partly due to the cen­trist Macron’s elec­tion in May. But the coun­try’s diplo­matic reach also played a key role.

“France’s great­est strength lies in its vast diplo­matic net­work,” the study says. “It is un­ri­valled in terms of mem­ber­ship to mul­ti­lat­eral and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, as well as in its diplo­matic cul­tural mis­sions. “With Macron hav­ing long cam­paigned for co­op­er­a­tion and in­te­gra­tion, it is not un­rea­son­able to ex­pect France’s global en­gage­ment and in­flu­ence to grow.”

France also re­mains the world’s top tourist des­ti­na­tion, the re­port said. The ter­ror at­tacks that have cost the lives of more than 230 peo­ple since 2015 “have not stopped tourists flock­ing to France and en­joy­ing its rich cul­tural of­fer­ing, cui­sine, and life­style,” the re­port says. The top five coun­tries by or­der are France, Bri­tain, US, Ger­many and Canada. Ja­pan has risen to sixth place from sev­enth, Switzer­land is sev­enth and Aus­tralia slips to eighth.

The sur­vey at­tributes the US de­cline-it has slipped from first last year to third-to a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of “global sen­ti­ment” as a re­sult of Trump’s “Amer­ica First” pol­icy. The US was still “un­ri­valled” in higher ed­u­ca­tion, tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion and the pro­duc­tion of film, mu­sic and TV, it pointed out.

Mean­while, the re­port’s au­thors warn that Bri­tain’s fall-it was top of the rank­ings last year-”should serve as a warn­ing of what is likely to come for post-Brexit Bri­tish in­flu­ence”. With ne­go­ti­a­tions un­der way for Bri­tain to leave the Euro­pean Union within two years, the re­port says: “It is hard to imag­ine the di­rec­tion of travel for Bri­tish soft power... will be up­wards in the fu­ture.” — AFP

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