Given France’s importance as a world power, a member of the UN Security Council, the world’s fifth largest economy, a nuclear power, and the most active political player in the European Union, the orientations, challenges, opportunities and possible outcomes of French foreign policy under President Hollande, now and over the next five years, are of fundamental importance to everyone. The irony is that no one mentioned foreign policy in six months of campaigning for the presidential elections (if we count the Socialist Party primaries, a year). So our answer to the question ‘Whither France in the world?’ should really be ‘Err…well we don’t know, because no one has told us’. Ignoring foreign policy is becoming the stuff of domestic campaigns everywhere. In France, the electorate is less interested in France’s overseas grandeur and rayonnement than in the price of artichokes. And so it should be. And yet this office, the presidency of the French Republic, of all offices – Charles de Gaulle’s hot seat, is quintessentially linked to grandeur and rayonnement; and if you covet the office, you’d better have some. In fact, the French presidency was almost made for foreign policy initiatives. And not just made to take foreign policy initiatives but to be à la hauteur of them; to step up onto that stage and take up arms against the dragons in the defence of that beautiful creature, France.
Read the full article here.