Soft power shifts to France
France is now the world’s most influential and respected superpower, having overtaken the US and UK in the annual ‘soft power’ rankings.
The list assesses countries on their global standing and impact aside from military might or economic status.
Factors such as foreign policy, global engagement, education, enterprise, lifestyle and culture are considered in the annual rankings, called the Soft Power 30.
Last year, the United States topped the list and Britain was cream of the crop the year before. However, President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy and withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement appear to have played poorly abroad while the Brexit vote has dented Britain’s reputation in other EU countries, says the report. France has rocketed up the rankings from fifth place, a move attributed in part to its pro-europe, probusiness new leader Emmanuel Macron as well as its unrivalled diplomatic ties – it’s a member of more multilateral organisations than any other country.
French cinema and cuisine – including the country’s many Michelin-starred restaurants – were also cited among the reasons it enjoys unparalleled powers of influence, persuasion and goodwill.
“This result may come as a shock given the French landscape just a year ago,” says the PR firm Portland Communications which compiles the annual index in conjunction with the University of Southern California school of public diplomacy. “President Hollande’s popularity rating was at a record low, the nation was reeling from the devastating effects of a series of terror attacks, and the wave of farright populism was gaining ground. France’s soft power has no doubt seen a boost with the defeat of the Front National and election of its youngest ever president, Emmanuel Macron. Elected on a pro-europe platform of reform, the president is riding a wave of both domestic and international popularity.”
Trevor Leggett, founder of Leggett Immobilier, said the results confirmed research by his agency which found that the quality of life was the top factor that drew British buyers to France.
“Political and economic factors trail in behind the world-class wines and sandy beaches,” he said.
Rob Longley, director of Beaux Villages Immobilier, agreed. “We hope this independent affirmation will provide the final extra nudge to anyone considering the move into property ownership in France,” he said. “There is space and a friendly welcome for you yet. Vive la France!”
The term ‘soft power’ was coined by the Harvard academic Joseph Nye to describe a nation’s ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction rather than through force and money.
Now in its third year, the Soft Power 30 is based on statistics and opinion polls carried out in 25 countries.
The UK maintained its second place in the rankings for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, the US has slipped to third place and Germany down one place to fourth while Canada completes the top five.