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The leaders at this year's G7 summit look weaker than ever

Mikhaila Friel   

The leaders at this year's G7 summit look weaker than ever
  • The G7 summit is exposing a crisis of Western authority, experts say.
  • Far-right parties are gaining ground in several countries, and leadership appears to be weakened.

The G7 summit has long been a showcase of global leadership and power.

The world's seven largest "advanced" economies — the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK — gather each year to discuss issues such as the economy, security, and trade.

But 2024's group of leaders appears to be one of the weakest that has attended the summit for some time.

As Politico noted, many of the attendees are distracted by domestic issues that are threatening their authority and grip on power.

This year's cohort shows that there is a "crisis of Western authority," according to Inderjeet Parmar, a professor of international politics at City University of London.

A threat to power

Political instability and uncertainty are rampant, from the recent surge of support for the far-right at the EU Parliamentary elections to the controversies on both sides of the US presidential campaign.

Among those facing challenges to his authority is France's president, Emmanuel Macron. He is just days away from a snap election, which many think could end his current coalition.

Macron called the election after a big win for his rival Marine Le Pen's National Rally party at the European parliamentary elections. Macron's centrist alliance secured a 14.6% vote compared to the far-right National Rally's staggering 31.4%.

Similarly, German chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats party recently suffered an embarrassing blow after the center-right party, Christian Democrats, rallied enough seats to sweep past the Social Democrats at the European elections.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, appears to be on course for a heavy election loss next month.

Andrew Payne, a City University of London lecturer in foreign policy, told Business Insider that it would be difficult for some leaders to make "credible commitments on trade, sanctions, or any other issue of international significance" at this year's summit.

"When you're not sure if the person across the table is still going to be in office next month, or next year, you might think twice about striking a long-term agreement," Payne said.

Meanwhile, the US' global reputation has suffered in recent months. Donald Trump and Hunter Biden's respective criminal convictions have undermined the country's brand, regardless of who wins the Oval Office in the upcoming election, according to Payne and Parmar.

"The USA, as the world's pivotal state, at the heart of the G7 and its liberal international order, has candidates for the White House in November who are unpopular, and one of them is a convicted felon leading what is a far-right political party that threatens to wreak vengeance on its political opponents," Parmar said.

'Brittle at best'

Payne argued that some of the G7 leaders aren't outright weak; rather, they face circumstances that threaten their authority.

"This is largely the same group of leaders that initiated or maintained an unprecedentedly strong response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine, for example," Payne said.

"But in a democracy, leaders are only as strong as their domestic foundations allow them to be, however bold their foreign policy visions may be. And right now, the domestic foundations of most of the G7 leaders are brittle at best," he added.