John Keiger

John Keiger

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

Is France heading towards its Sixth Republic?

Against a backdrop of considerable tension – barricaded city centre shop-fronts and 30,000 police on standby – a radically divided France has voted in the second round of the legislative elections. To general amazement, the largest party in the National Assembly is the left-wing Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) – but none of the major political

Labour should be wary of Macron’s cooing

French president Emmanuel Macron has phoned Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his appointment as prime minister. Macron’s Twitter account records that he was ‘pleased with our first discussion’, adding: ‘We will continue the work begun with the UK for our bilateral cooperation, for peace and security in Europe, for the climate and for

The plot to stop Marine Le Pen’s National Rally

This week France has drifted from surprise to confusion and panic as Sunday’s second round vote approaches. The bien-pensant centre-left weekly Nouvel Obs’ cover says it all. Black lettering on a red background menacingly warns: ‘Avoiding the Worst’; ‘The National Rally at the gates of power’. Yet the National Rally is an officially recognised legitimate mainstream party. France

John Keiger

What the National Rally means for France’s foreign policy

The electoral turmoil in France threatens its status as a world power. Friendly nations are despairing; rivals and enemies are gloating, even circling. France is the world’s seventh-largest economic power, a prominent Nato member, a member of the UN Security Council and the EU’s leader on foreign and defence issues. It has the fifth largest

National Rally brings a political earthquake to France

There is one big winner from the first round of the French legislative elections – and several big losers. The winner is the Rassemblement National (National Rally) with 33 per cent of voters backing its candidates or their allies – on a turnout of 67 per cent, the highest in decades. The RN now has

Macron’s power in Europe is draining

In Brussels over the last two days EU heads of state and government have been carving up the ‘top jobs’. France is represented by President Emmanuel Macron, whose party took a lashing in the European elections, diminishing further his international standing. By contrast, Marine Le Pen’s victorious Rassemblement National, now on track to win the

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