The 2017 Soft Power Index upranked France 4 spots to first this year, just barely beating the UK and the US.
"France has emerged as the overall world leader when it comes to soft power," according to the Portland report, although it was only first in 1 of the 6 domains measured: Engagement.
Why? A rebound from a bad year in 2016 (Hollande's low popularity, big terrorist attacks, growing far-right populism); the election of a young pro-Europe Macron over the Front National and a near-future outlook of pro-business, pro-EU reforms and an energized, EU-leader France; Macron's social media engagement; and France's traditional diplomacy:
"Once again, France’s greatest strength lies in its vast diplomatic network. It is unrivalled in terms of membership to multilateral and international organisations, as well as in its diplomatic cultural missions. And with Macron having long campaigned for cooperation and integration, it is not unreasonable to expect France’s global engagement and influence to grow. Culturally, France also puts in a strong performance. The threat of terrorism has not stopped tourists flocking to France and enjoying its rich cultural offering, cuisine, and lifestyle – France’s restaurant scene is unrivalled, its film sector continues to flourish, and its museums and galleries are some of the most visited in the world."
Combine those factors with a UK losing some popularity after Brexit and a Trump US.
It should be noted that of the 6 domains, the US still took first in Education, Culture, and Digital. Singapore got Enterprise. Norway got Government.
Canada? Third in Education, fifth in Digital, ninth in Culture and Government. It didn't place in Enterprise or Engagement.