World News

France tops US in global 'soft power' rankings as Trump factor blamed

Posted July 18

France has been declared the new world leader in "soft power" according to a new report published Tuesday.

According to The Soft Power 30, which is published by PR firm Portland Communications, France ranked top ahead of the United Kingdom and last year's leader, the United States.

Soft power, a term first used by the American political scientist Joseph Nye, combines the use of political values, culture, and foreign policy rather than coercion to influence the world stage.

The report says France's rise from fifth to first is explained by Macron's overwhelming election victory as well as the country's "unrivaled" vast diplomatic network, as well how the country is perceived abroad.

"Macron has now been handed the mandate to help lead France through a period of pro-business and pro-EU reforms," wrote the authors of the report.

"What emerges from these reforms will likely be a more dynamic and energized France that plays a leading role in the EU and perhaps shows greater global leadership overall."

The report examines polling in 25 countries across the world and covers areas such as government, culture, foreign policy, enterprise, education and digital engagement.

Read: Macron, the 39-year-old strongman Europe needs

According to the results, Macron's success is down to both him and his party, La Republique En Marche, "riding a wave of both domestic and international popularity."

The report also notes that the threat of terrorism has not deterred tourists from visiting France, which also won marks for its cuisine and art scene.

Read: Macron to end France's state of emergency

UK and US drop

France's ascent pushes the UK down to second after its decision to leave the European Union, while the US slumped to third after the election of President Donald Trump.

According to the report, which took polling before Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord: "Trump's 'America First' doctrine has played poorly abroad, alienating allies, and damaging links with the rest of the world."

"The rise of Trump could be viewed as a threat to American soft power, not least because his kind of populist rhetoric is known for devaluing international alliances," the authors of the report wrote.

Read: World leaders condemn Trump's decision to quit Paris climate deal

"The President has indicated his preference for hard over soft power, perhaps without properly understanding the need for a combination of both. Only time will tell if Trump will withdraw further from the international community."

The US finished ahead of Germany, which came fourth, Canada fifth and Japan moved up to sixth.

Russia finished in the bottom five, ahead of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Brazil and Turkey.

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