John Keiger

John Keiger

Professor John Keiger is the former research director of the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge.

Is France’s left-wing coalition more dangerous than Le Pen?

French and international media cannot break their fixation with the ‘extreme right’. They continue to target the Rassemblement National (RN) as the ultimate menace for the 7 July legislative elections. But as of Friday, a more potent threat to French political and financial stability has raised its head: the radical left-wing ‘New Popular Front’ (NPF).

France’s future looks far from certain

The much loved and quintessentially French singer, Françoise Hardy, born in 1944, died last night. French certainties are disappearing. The Fifth Republican regime could be next. President Macron’s stunning decision on Sunday night to dissolve the National Assembly in the wake of the remarkable victory of the Rassemblement National (RN) in the European elections is

The EU may struggle to find its way out of this election crisis

It is said that the EU thrives on crises. These are what spurs it on to the ultimate goal of wider and deeper integration. But yesterday’s European election results may be a crisis too far. Unlike its predecessors, this election has returned nine or so large Eurosceptic national parties intent on arresting the march towards

Macron is to blame for France’s dismal economy

Standard & Poor’s downgrading of France’s credit rating on Friday is a hammer blow to President Macron’s reputation. The ratings agency has reduced France from AA to AA-, putting it on a par with the Czech Republic and Estonia and one notch below the UK. It is the first time S&P has downgraded France’s debt

Aukus is becoming a potent alliance

Compare and contrast the frenetic, largely unwanted and unnecessary manoeuvres to create a common EU defence union, with the methodical, steadfast construction of Aukus as a formidable Indo-Pacific entente to counter the Chinese threat. Only this week, South Korea signalled its intent to join the alliance and share advanced military technology with the United States,

Why Emmanuel Macron wants to give nukes to the EU

Emmanuel Macron is thinking and saying the unthinkable for a French President of the Republic. This weekend he suggested that French nuclear weapons – the holy grail of French security, intended to ensure that France never relives 1940 – could be put at the disposal of the European Union’s defence. For Macron this is a

The plot to stop Marine Le Pen could backfire badly

At first, French elites haughtily dismissed the Rassemblement National (RN) and its voters. Then they were in denial about its rise. Now they are scrambling to block its path to victory in 2027 by all manner of subterfuge. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the RN and front-runner in the 2027 presidential election, will go

Keir Starmer should think twice before shunning Marine Le Pen

Riding high in the polls with a 20-point lead, the Labour party is preparing for government. Across the Channel with a 10-15 point poll lead in the June European elections and predicted victory in the 2027 presidentials, the Rassemblement National is making tentative preparations for government too. Two years after forming his cabinet, Sir Keir

Why is Macron suddenly pro-Ukraine? Fear of Le Pen

Its an old ruse to deploy foreign policy for domestic purposes. France has a long history in that vein. General de Gaulle was adept at using popular domestic anti-Americanism on the world stage to embarrass pro-Nato political forces at home; François Mitterrand exploited the early 1980s Euromissile crisis with the Soviet Union to humiliate and

Why France is a target for Russian spies

Last week was a good time to bury bad news in France. While French and international media were focused on president Macron’s Trump-like maverick statement of not ruling out western troops being deployed in Ukraine, a new book slipped out detailing the extent of KGB spying in France during the Cold War. Ironically this was

Britain should resist French pressure for a joint defence plan

On Friday President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Volodymyr Zelensky to the Elysée with great fanfare. The Ukrainian president was in Paris to sign a ten-year bilateral military agreement for France to supply and finance Kiev’s war effort and reconstruction, having already signed similar agreements with Britain and Germany. But behind Macron’s window dressing is France’s acute

France is tiring of Macron’s gimmicks

President Emmanuel Macron and his freshly installed Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, appointed a new French cabinet this week. It is little more than a reshuffle – and unlikely to lead to sunlit uplands for Macron’s beleaguered presidency. Of particular significance are the two centre-right ministers whose appointment testifies to the continuing rightward drift of the Macronist

Can ‘mini Macron’ rescue France’s president?

France’s Emmanuel Macron, the Fifth Republic’s youngest president, has just appointed its youngest prime minister, 34-year-old Gabriel Attal. The former socialist turned 2017 Macronista campaigner has had a meteoric rise through government ranks to education minister only six months ago. Attal’s remarkable communication skills, ability to think on his feet and interpret what voters wish to hear

The French elite have realised that Marine Le Pen might win

You can tell that French elections are in the air because legal proceedings are being taken against a leading figure of the French right. So it was with François Fillon of the Républicain party, a key contender in the 2017 presidential elections, whose hopes of winning were dashed during the campaign by legal investigation into

Could the world go to war again?

Armistice Day is an appropriate moment to reflect on why democracies triumphed in the two world wars that blighted the twentieth century. The simple answer is because – however much they hesitated – they believed in what they stood for and were able to will their victory. As the French philosopher, future Resistance member and

Why is France so fascinated by the royals?

As King Charles’ state visit to France begins, it is clear that France is not as republican as it claims. The death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 gave way to an outpouring of French national grief. Speaking for his people, President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: ‘Her death leaves us with a sense of emptiness’.

How Africa fell out of love with France

On Wednesday last week, a new Gabonese military junta installed itself, having ousted President Ali Bongo, whose family have ruled the country since 1967. Just two days earlier, the French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to his ambassadors in which he spoke of an ‘epidemic of putschs’ in what was formerly France’s greatest sphere

There is not much for Macron to celebrate on this Bastille Day

In January this year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined his five priorities for Britain against a hazy timetable. Meanwhile in France, after months of parliamentary opposition, strikes and demonstrations against his pension reforms, President Macron’s legislation gained assent by a constitutional sleight of hand. To appease the country’s heightened state of tension in May, Macron