15 PREDICTIONS FOR 2017: Another turbulent year?

December 31, 2016

2016 has been a year like no other. 12 months ago, if anyone had said that Trump would win the electoral college or that Britain would vote for brexit, I’d have laughed. But now, in a world where the polls never seem to get things right and with the rise of right-wing populist figures such as Nigel Farage, anything seems possible. The Conservative party storming to a surprise overall majority on 7th May 2015 seems like small-fry compared to what we have seen this year but the question is, is 2017 going to be another year for the populist right or has their run of luck ended? With anti-establishment sentiment sweeping across the land and a growing displeasure with politicians and their policies, the stage is set for 2017 to be every bit as tumultuous as the year that preceded it. Here are fifteen predictions of the how the political landscape will change. At the end of the year, we’ll be able to look back and see how I did. 

1. After Donald Trump’s presidency begins, he will disappoint many of his supporters as congress works to keep him under control. There will be no ‘draining of the swamp’ and no wall. 

2. The Democratic party will appear divided after it leaves power as it searches for the reason behind its defeat. The left will blame Hillary Clinton, whilst her supporters point out her popular vote win. The divisions will quickly fade as the party prepares to take on Mr. Trump in congress. 

3. Marine Le Pen will win the first round of the French presidential election but will fall short of the required 50% to win, François Fillon will win the second round of voting and become President. 

4. In the German federal election, Angela Merkel will remain chancellor with the incumbent CDU-SPD ‘grand coalition’ holding a majority of seats in the Bundestag despite both parties suffering losses. 

5. Italy will hold a snap election and the Five Star Movement will make big gains and become the largest single party. 

6. Labour will hold on in the Copeland by-election by a wafer-thin margin and a strong Conservative performance will begin to turn some of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters against him. It will not be enough to topple him but it will significantly weaken his leadership. 

7. Theresa May will avoid a snap election despite being pressured to call one by her back benchers. ‘Snap election fever’ will continue as the government’s small parliamentary majority is wiped out and Mrs. May relies on deals with the Democratic Unionists and other parties to remain in power. 

8. In the local government elections, both the Conservative and Labour parties will lose seats and councils, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the SNP will make gains. 

9. Having won the Manchester mayoralty by a healthy margin, Andy Burnham will resign as Labour MP for Leigh. In the ensuing by-election, Paul Nuttall will stand for UKIP and will run Labour close, possibly gaining the seat.

10. In local council and parliamentary by-elections, the Liberal Democrats will continue to perform well and achieve large swings but their low opinion poll position will not change. 

11. ‘Moderate’ Labour MPs will remain relatively silent despite Labour’s polling position not improving. Mr. Corbyn will lose the support of several of his key left-wing allies but John McDonnell will remain loyal until he can guarantee that the parliamentary Labour party will allow a left-winger will be onto the ballot in the event of a leadership contest. After a tough summer, the parliamentary Labour party will agree and Mr. Corbyn’s position will become untenable. 

12. The Conservative party will struggle to hide its internal divisions over Brexit but will remain high in the opinion polls for much of the year. Mrs. May’s personal ratings will have significantly dropped by the summer. 

13. Boris Johnson will be the first member of the cabinet to leave. 

14. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will be triggered and Britain’s exit from the European Union will begin. Mrs. May has said that this will be before the end of March, but with the Supreme Court ruling still to come, it is difficult to predict exactly when this will happen. 

15. Tony Blair will return to the forefront of British Politics as he fights for the centre ground and Nigel Farage will be back to make sure that the government gets on with Brexit.

By the end of 2017, the United Kingdom will have a better idea of what Brexit means and how willing EU members are to negotiate. Although Labour may have a new leader and the Conservatives may appear more divided than they did under John Major in 1995, things will be much the same as they are now. Across Europe, right-wing populist governments will rule, but the anti-establishment feelings that they have ridden to get into power will have started to die down. 2016 has been rocky and whilst 2017 has everyone braced for turbulence, things will begin to settle down. Harold Wilson said that 'a week is a long time in politics’, so a year must be an eternity.

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