John Keiger

John Keiger

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

The French riots threaten the state’s very existence

How dangerous are riots to the very existence of the French state? Most commentators avoid the question and concentrate on causes. The more whimsical attribute cause to that clichéd French historical reflex of insurrection; the sociologists to poverty and discrimination in the banlieues (suburbs); the far-left to French institutional racism and right-wing policies; conservative politicians to

Will Macron be forced to break his pledge and raise taxes?

The inevitable is at last beginning to dawn on Emmanuel Macron. The extravagant spending spree initiated after the violent and year-long 2018 ‘gilets jaunes’ protests will have to be reversed. With the coffers empty, France is not only at the mercy of international finance, she is now highly vulnerable to the next social or political

Did France invent cricket?

As the First Ashes Test begins at Edgbaston it is fitting to recall England’s oldest cricket adversary: France. The Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) first ever international tour was scheduled for France in the summer of 1789. Owing to local difficulties the tour did not go ahead. The match was eventually rescheduled for the bicentennial of

How Keir Starmer could walk into the EU’s trap

Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour front bench are increasingly candid about their plans to ‘recalibrate’ Britain’s relationship with the EU within 18 months of entering Downing Street. Trade barriers with the EU would be lowered, regular EU-UK summits would be held at permanent official and ministerial level, a return to the Dublin Agreement on

Macron’s muddled foreign policy

Even the French reports of President Macron’s state visit to China last week were unflattering. The highly choreographed ceremonies with Xi Jinping – redolent of foreign emissaries paying homage to Chinese emperors – produced nothing on Ukraine, nothing on Taiwan. The only tangible outcome was Beijing graciously extending for another four years the loan of two

Macron’s France is at a turning point

France is confronted by a serious social crisis, morphing into a grave political crisis, which could become a regime crisis.   To be fair, political instability did not begin with Emmanuel Macron. It has been growing since 2000 when the presidential mandate was cut from seven to five years, rendering it coterminous with parliamentary elections and reducing

Could the markets force Macron to back down on pension reforms?

Is Emmanuel Macron reaching his Liz Truss moment when financial markets finally determine his future? On 20 March Moody’s ratings agency strode into France’s explosive pensions reform turmoil. While keeping France’s rating at Aa2 ‘stable’ it nevertheless warned that President Macron’s constitutional sleight of hand denying the National Assembly a vote on the bill risked undermining

Is Macron dreaming of Aukus becoming Fraukus?

When silhouetted against the symbolism – as French media proudly insist – of King Charles choosing France for his first state visit at month’s end, this weekend is very much an Anglo-French affair. On Friday, Rishi Sunak and seven ministers visited Paris – a first for five frosty years – for a Franco-British summit with

Macron’s France is a tinderbox

On 22 March 1968 the slow burn that would eventually flare into France’s ‘May ‘68’ began. The radical student movement known as ‘22 March’, with Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Dany le Rouge) at its heart, was unaware its actions on this day would lead to riots and the eventual paralysis of the French state after workers joined

Is Macron really saying the France-Afrique is finished?

On 2 March in Gabon, West Africa, President Macron declared that ‘the days of France-Afrique are over’.  Since the early nineteenth century the African continent has emblazoned France’s aspiration to international power status. Like any empire it provided natural resources. It also provided manpower. Unlike other imperial powers with surplus domestic populations to deploy, France’s demography was stagnant

Europe’s centre of gravity is shifting towards Poland

The President of the United States of America flies into Poland this month. Not to Germany or France or even the UK. There is great symbolism in this gesture, which goes further than Washington merely showing solidarity to the front-line states in Russia’s war against Ukraine. It is emblematic of a trend which has seen

What Germany can learn from Japan about the new world order

The end of the second world war saw the defeated aggressors Germany and Japan accept moral capitulation and begin new international lives as liberal democratic and largely pacifist states bent on cooperation not coercion. But over the last few years an increasingly unsettled international order has emerged to test the pacifism of the fourth and

Britain’s Ukraine strategy could reap dividends for Brexit

Ever since at least the French revolution it has been in Britain’s strategic interest to ensure no single power or group of powers dominates the continent of Europe. Britain’s motives were always military and, as an international trading nation, commercial. Today the Russian invasion of Ukraine presents the UK with a strategic opportunity to stymie

All is not well in Macron’s France

The relationship entertained by French elites to their homeland is very different from their English counterparts. ‘England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality’, wrote George Orwell in 1945. That derisory sentiment continues today among Britain’s urban elites. French elites by contrast – though they can be highly

Macron’s humiliating climbdown over Aukus

Guess who turned up in Bangkok this week at the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting? The forum, which includes the US, China, Australia, Japan, Russia, but not France, was visited by none other than President Macron. ‘You must be asking yourself what a French president is doing here’, he charmed in English.  Macron claimed to

Is Macron trying to lasso London?

Some supporters of the EU might struggle with the concept, but Europe is about much more than just what unfolds in Brussels. The EU’s 27 states may be a large part of Europe, but the two are not coterminous. Nor, more importantly, do they all have the same interests. The newly created European Political Community

France and Britain are brothers in despair

Since Brexit, Britain and France appear to have drifted apart. Leaders from both countries have engaged in an on-off war of words. But despite these political fractures, Britain and France have actually come to resemble each other more closely than ever. It is now difficult to differentiate the economic, financial, social and political conditions that exist on both sides of

France loved the Queen

The tribute paid by France to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been heartfelt, fulsome and moving. French media across the board have paid generous homage, as though to one of their finest, to Britain’s longest serving monarch – surpassed in world history only by Louis XIV acceding as a babe-in-arms. This vicarious Panthéonisation was

The French buy-out that explains Macron’s strategy

It’s a platitude that France and Britain are rivals and have been for centuries. But, since the 1904 Entente Cordiale, the rivalry is more a question of competition than conflict. Always, in the darkest hour, each sided with the other, even if post-war they didn’t fully recognise the other’s contribution. Britain congratulated itself over the