Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Crystal Ball Gazing, 2013 Edition, Part 6: International Affairs

This is the final part of my Crystal Ball Gazing, 2013 Edition blogpost series. In earlier posts, I looked at municipal, provincial, and federal predictions, along with some global trends which will impact 2013. I also assessed what this year has in store for Canada’s national political parties. In this post, I’ll be turning my attention to international affairs.

The United Kingdom

Could this be the year that Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition breaksdown, and the British return to the polls? Growing concerns amongst Conservatives regarding Britain’s role in the European Union may be the straw that breaks the Lib-Dem coalition partner’s backs. The EU has been taking a lot of abuse lately, despite winning a Nobel Peace Prize! Prime Minister David Cameron will be walking a fine line, trying to keep the pro-European Lib-Dems happy in the coalition government, while appeasing anti-Unionist forces in his own Party. The rise of the anti-Europe UK Independence Party (UKIP) in polling will also be a concern to Conservatives. While UKIP might not threaten to elect any MP’s, they will almost certainly siphon votes away from a Euro-waffling Conservative Party.

Look for Liberal-Democratic Leader Nick Clegg to pull his Party from the Coalition on a matter of principle (it would have to be, because the Lib-Dems polling is pathetic right now), and the government to fall before the end of 2013. The election will return the Conservatives to a minority government, and with the other parties unable to form a coalition, the Conservatives will attempt to govern without a majority (which will be an interesting experiment in Britain, where coalition partners are almost always sought in “hung parliaments”).


Italy will be going to the polls in early 2013. Look for a return of Mario Monti, Italy’s technocratic PM, as Italians opt for continuing the relative stability which Monti and his cadre have brought to the political scene. As a result, Italy may weather the storm of the coming economic recession better than most European nations. However, Italy’s long-term prospects continue to look bleak.


Expect protests to continue in Greece and Spain, as national governments continue to be prodded by Eurobankers to implement unpopular austerity agendas. I expect protests to widen, and Portugal and Ireland may be engulfed by the end of 2013. Even France’s socialist government might take a beating from citizens concerned about a downward shift in their quality of life expectations.


Will this be the year that Australians go to the polls? I think it might be, as the global recession is sure to negatively impact Australia. Concerns will be raised with the policies of PM Julia Gillard, and with her grip on power tenuous, all it will take will be one or two backbench defections or retiring MP’s to trigger the need for a national election. Look for Gillard to be returned, with a minority government.


Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party-led coalition will return to power in Israel after elections in early 2013. Netanyahu will interpret this as a green-light to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations and plunge the world into a pretty serious crisis. More on that below.


2013 will bring a period of peace to Egypt, now that a referendum on a new Constitution has been held, and the votes have been counted. Look for Mohammed Morsi to continue to consolidate his position as Prime Minister, and build the necessary power structures around him so that he can’t be ousted by non-democratic forces.

But Egypt’s relative peace will be shattered by international events, as Egyptians will once again take to the streets demanding action from Morsi. This time, though, the action will be to support the Palestinians in Gaza against a more aggressive Israel.


Will the civil war in Syria come to an end in 2013, with the fall of the Assad regime? No, although Assad will lose control of Syria and be forced to flee the country part way through the year. The war, however, will continue its factional violence. Turkey, which was almost drawn into the war this year, will stay the course and not be drawn in. Largely, Syria will continue to be left to figure out its own fate, and will be unable to do so in 2013.

The United States of America

This isn’t going to be a good year for the U.S.A. on several fronts. First, that little matter of the fiscal cliff and the incomprehensible deficit and debt situation of the American government. While it looks like legislators will punt the heavy lifting of decision-making back a few months (which the markets will view as favourable, until the next crisis), no satisfactory solution for Democrats or Republicans will be found. Indeed, the Republican Party is already at threat of splintering as a result of Tea-Party fundamentalists having seized control of the Party. Moderate Republicans may finally decide that it’s time to split (this would be the time to do it, too, giving enough advance room to create a new Party prior to the 2014 mid-term elections). Having said that, I don’t believe that the Republican Party will splinter, even though moderate Republicans really ought to divorce themselves from the Tea Partiers.

The global recession is going to take a toll on the U.S., and unemployment numbers will continue to rise. The recession itself may be sparked by U.S. action – or inaction if you prefer, on getting its economic act together. Equally possible (and in my opinion, likely), the U.S. will be drawn into a short, sharp conflict with Iran, thanks to Iranian retaliation against Israel as a result of Israeli air-strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

War with Iran, even a short war, is sure to send global markets plunging, and may be the ultimate cause of recession. Wanting to minimize U.S. involvement, look for President Obama to actively enter into negotiations with the Iranians to end the conflict. For his efforts, Obama will see his popularity plunge at the polls, as Republicans and the right-wing mainstream media portray him as a weak leader, and declare his negotiations as being “treasonous”.

Sounds a little nutsy, doesn’t it? But that’s the level of political discourse in the U.S. today. And the right-wingers will have some more ammunition at their disposal: Obama has already said that something must be done to curb the gun violence which for far too long has swept his nation. Calls for reforming gun laws will be met with stiff opposition and anti-American rhetoric from Republicans. Ultimately, Obama’s gun reform efforts are doomed to fail, although this might not be immediately apparent in 2013 (remember: the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 and again in 2010, and the almost unfettered right to bear arms appears to be a fact of life for Americans).

And Finally...

Every year I predict which NHL team will win the Stanley Cup, and every year, I’ve been wrong. This year, I hope that my prediction doesn’t come true, but nonetheless, here it is: The Stanley Cup will not be awarded in 2013, thanks to the NHL lockout. Should this labour situation ever resolve itself, the NHL is going to have to figure out some way to win back fans like me before the year is out. Moving the Phoneix Coyotes to Markham or Kitchener, the Florida Panthers to Halifax and the Tampa Bay Lightning to Quebec City might be a good start, and something which Gary Bettman and other team owners might want to think about.

(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Party of Canada)

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