OK, I’m a bit late with this post, but I can’t go into 2017 without writing something about what’s to come. 2016 was the most eventful year for the world of politics in living memory, and although this year is unlikely to top it in terms of UK politics, for the EU this will be their biggest year ever.
Brexit and Article 50
Whether you like it or not, Article 50 will be triggered this year: most probably next month. Afterwards, Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations get under way and we’ll be en route to a hard split from the bloc. May has promised that we won’t be getting a ‘running commentary’ over the course of the 2 years, but don’t expect everything to go quiet.
Brexit will also be interesting this year for the EU. It remains to be seen which stance Europe will take towards Britain – i.e. whether or not they will offer us a reasonable trade deal. However, more notably, will the UK will encourage any other nations to head for the door? There are Eurosceptic parties in the Netherlands and France with serious chances of winning elections this year (scroll down). If they were to win, and leave the EU, I really can’t see the union surviving. Watch this space.
He was the biggest story of 2016, and will also dominate the news this year as well. We’ve heard Trump speak, but don’t really know how much of what he says will be put into practice. But then again, we never thought the wall or (at least partial) Muslim ban would happen, so I think we should now take what he says seriously.
The President’s approach to world issues, such as Russia and the Middle East, will also be worth watching. What happens if Russia ‘does a Crimea’ again, and sends troops into Eastern Europe? Will Trump respond, and if not, what will become of NATO?
Elections in Europe
For me, this is the area worth watching most closely. There are elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands this year, and in all three nations support for Populist Eurosceptic parties is on the rise. As I said earlier, another exit or two from the EU will most likely spell the end of the organisation, and Europe should be worried. Dutchman Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party faces his fight to be elected in March, and my instinct is that he will win, as will Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France. Both parties are anti-EU. The Europhile Angela Merkel will most likely hold onto power and win a fourth tenure as Chancellor of Germany, but will it be too late by then?
Over in France things are really heating up. Republican Francois Fillon was the favourite to win this summer, but following allegations of corruption his popularity has declined dramatically. He may not even make the second round of voting.
I’ve attempted to predict what might happen this year in the world of politics but after last year, who knows? In a year’s time Jeremy Corbyn could be Prime Minister after a snap general election and Donald Trump could have resigned. But probably not.