The French institutional organisation reinforces the idea that in a non-cohabitation context, foreign policy is the “domaine reservé” (reserved domain) of the President. Therefore, subordinates to the President for foreign affairs, chiefly the PM and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, must adopt the same viewpoint and must implement his decisions. Even if the members of parliament have the right to wage wars and can influence treaty ratifications, history shows that the President is rarely being challenged on international affairs. Moreover, the President can take decisions individually in European and foreign policies.
It must be acknowledged that personality is not momentous in every political circumstance. According to Fred Greenstein’s notion of “action dispensability”, the significance of personality in the political sphere depends on the decision-making process and on the institutional structure. (Fred I. Greenstein, Personality and Politics. Problems of Evidence, Inference, and Conceptualization, Chicago, Markham Publishing Company, 1969). Therefore, personality and idiosacry is most relevant when ” a single individual has the power to make the choice concerning how a state is going to respond to a foreign policy problem” (Margaret G. Hermann, Thomas Preston, Baghat Korany, et Timothy M. Shaw, « Who Leads Matters: The Effects of Powerful Individuals », International Studies Review, 2001, vol. 3, no 2, p. 83?131).
2.2. When personality matters
Original perspectives based on political psychology can be applied to three specific areas. Firstly, Robert Jervis demonstrated that perception or misperception of international politics can have an effect on actions decided by foreign policy executives (Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1976). Secondly, “groupthink” can trigger suboptimal decisions in foreign policy according to Irving Janis (Irving L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink. A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes, New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1972). Lastly, individual actions can be explained through a triadic reciprocal causation between the personality, the behaviour and the environment. Albert Bandura’s work on social cognitive theory is efficient in determining the impact of personality in politics. Individuals tend to be guided by their capabilities and most predominantly by their self-efficacy, which refers to “(…) people’s beliefs in their capabilities to perform in ways that give them some control over events that affect their lives” (Albert Bandura, « A social cognitive theory of personality », in Lawrence A. Pervin et Oliver P. John (dir.), Handbook of Personality, 2e éd., New York, Guilford Publications, 1999, p. 154? 196).
Nonetheless, individualist and holist academics tend to adopt opposing viewpoints regarding the use of personality as an instrument for FPA. According to holists, politicians only represent the final product of environmental and social forces. Thus, personality is not a significant factor since the social structure prevails over individuals. However, individualists consider politicians to be active agents of the policy decision process. Indeed, these leaders continuously interact with the social structure and have the ability to reorient it and even transform it. For this reason, it can be argued that personality is a key analysis element to analysing foreign policies. Bureaucratic politics and systematic approaches traditionally dominated the field of FPA (Graham T. Allison et Philip Zelikow, Essence of Decision. Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2e éd., New York, Longman, 1999). Nevertheless, academics now tend to adopt a more individual-oriented approach (Valerie M. Hudson, Foreign Policy Analysis. Classic and Contemporary Theory, Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007 ; Marijke Breuning, Foreign Policy Analysis: A Comparative Introduction, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
Personality refers to a psychological concept of “habitual and distinct patterns of physical and mental activity that distinguish one individual from another” (Gian Vittorio Caprara et Michele Vecchione, « Personality Approaches to Political Behavior », in Leonie Huddy, David O. Sears et Jack S. Levy (dir.), Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, 2e éd., Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 23) Furthermore, Allport holds that personality is “the dynamic organisation within the individual of those psychological systems that determine his characteristic behaviour and thought” (Gordon W. Allport, Structure et développement de la personnalité, Neuchâtel, Delachaux et Niestlé, 1970).