Emmanuel Macron's France has overtaken the US and UK to become the world's top "soft power", it was announced on 18 July. The list, which is compiled by Portland Communications, ranks nations on their ability to influence other countries through favourability rather than forms of "hard power", such as coercion.
The report, published in partnership with the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, found that France's "impressive" move up the rankings – from fifth to first in a year – has been driven by a combination of "strong fundamental soft power resources".
"Despite major terrorist attacks and the rise of far-right nationalist populism, the internationalist, business-friendly party of Emmanuel Macron has been handed a large mandate to lead France forwards after a period of political and social unrest," the report said.
"France's improved soft power performance is thanks to long-standing assets like its world-leading diplomatic network, the reach of its digital diplomacy channels, influence in multilateral organisations and global appeal of its cultural offering.
"Concerns of security have failed to dampen its tourism industry. France leads the world in international tourist arrivals, who come to enjoy the cuisine, museums and vibrant cities. Cultural production including film and music continue to flourish."
The UK, meanwhile, maintained its second place in the rankings. But the nation's score slipped slightly to 75.72, just below France's 75.75. Despite the two-year-long Brexit negotiations with the EU, the researchers found that the UK's soft power assets, such as the BBC World Service and British Council, remained "strong".
"Yet there are reasons for concern about the future of British soft power," the report warned. "Last year we anticipated some movement in the polls in the event of a vote to leave the European Union.
"This has proved to be the case, as the UK has fallen three places in the international polling rankings. It is important to note, however, that the fall was driven by European respondents. Outside of the EU, perceptions of the UK have not really changed."
Elsewhere, Donald Trump's US slipped from first to third in the soft power rankings. "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 report said.
"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, thereby limiting America's obligations and contribution to international public goods, while diminishing the country's ability to set the global agenda."