As part of our annual analysis, results from the general public survey are tallied to see which nation comes first, second, and third on the key metrics of Familiarity, Reputation, and Influence as well as on each of the 34 statements within the 7 Soft Power Pillars and under the COVID-19 Response measure.
We award the winners with gold, silver, and bronze medals just like in sports competitions. There is a total of 111 medals across 37 disciplines to be won.
After a rigorous analysis of our research – covering over 100,000 respondents across more than 100 countries, representing all continents and regions of the world – the results are in, and the soft power Olympics are more competitive than ever.
USA & Switzerland are neck-and-neck
With a total of 14 medals each, including 10 golds a piece, the United States and Switzerland cross the finish line together in a photo finish for first place. Switzerland topped the table last year, but in a similar story to the overall Global Soft Power Index ranking, the USA has regained ground this year.
Switzerland sets the standard across several measures, but it is in pole position in Governance where it grabbed the gold medal for four out of the five metrics – politically stable and well governed, high ethical standards, safe and secure, and respects law and human rights. The alpine nation also came out on top for overall reputation, trustworthiness, good relations with other countries, trustworthy media, as well as two of the three COVID-19 metrics.
The USA continues to perform well across various measures where it has historically led, including overall familiarity and influence, influential in arts and entertainment, influential in diplomatic circles, affairs I follow closely, and influential media. However, its jump up the podium this year is thanks to improved performances in leaders in sports, helpful to other countries, a leader in science, and internationally admired leaders where it now leads the pack.
Canada’s easy does it
Canada skated up into 3rd place, up one rank from last year, and secured the most medals out of any nation in the table this year at 17 in the process. Canada is a nation famed for its politeness, which is well reflected in the gold medals it won for an appealing lifestyle, easy to communicate with, and generosity.
Fourth-placed China secured an additional two gold medals this year, adding future growth potential and innovative technology to its previous success in easy to do business with. Will it make it onto the podium next year?
UK falls short of the finish line
Despite boasting 10 medals and increasing its standing in the overall Global Soft Power Index ranking to 2nd, the UK has once again failed to win enough golds to guarantee its place at the soft power Olympics podium, coming 7th in the classification. Italy pipped the UK to the post with its two gold medals securing 6th place, as it topped the friendliness metric as well as boasting the food the world loves top prize.
Germany slid down the medal table from 2nd to 5th this year, principally due to the removal of the Specialist Audiences’ input in the Global Soft Power Index – who awarded Germany four golds last year. It still has an impressive collection of 12 soft power medals, but was a victim of the USA’s success, as America usurped Germany in internationally admired leaders and helpful to other countries.
Soft power for all
Whilst the nations featured at the top will not be a surprise to those who have followed the Global Soft Power Index, the medal table highlights that there is a piece of the pie for all countries to lay claim to.
This year, the new entrant Maldives secured its first medal, and it was a gold one to boot. The nation scooped the top prize for being a great place to visit, seeing off stiff competition from Switzerland and France, which took silver and bronze respectively. Similarly, Brazil was seen to be the most fun nation in the world – perhaps less surprising given it is the carnival capital of the world. Egypt also continues to be viewed as the nation with the richest heritage in the world, fending off competition from China and Italy successfully.
All three of these countries – the Maldives, Brazil, and Egypt – have carved a clear for themselves in the soft power arena, and their gold medal success sees each of them rank higher in the medal table than such global players as France or Spain.