2011 will undoubtedly be seen as a year of change – historic change even. Europe has plunged into a massive economic crisis, with Portugal, Italy, the UK and Greece struggling. 2011 has also been the year of mass uprisings in the Middle East. The youth of the Arab world rose up with the help of social media and changed regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. In New Zealand 2011 has been the year of the natural disaster as it has in Chile, the Philippines, Thailand, and Japan.
So what will 2012 herald? Fareed Zakaria has offered the label, the ‘year of the election’. This is because 59 countries will be undertaking elections at the local, state and national level that accounts for a third of the world’s nations.
More importantly, 26 of these countries may change their national leadership. Of an even greater impact is that these countries represent 53% of the world’s population and half of the world’s GDP.
As this indicates, many of the world’s most powerful nations may find themselves changing leaders and possibly even their national direction. These countries include: the USA, Russia, France, China, Mexico, Egypt and Taiwan among many others – that’s four of the five countries that make up the UN Security Council.
From a completely self-centred point of view that’s great news. Why you say? Well, it means that there will be more than enough stories, changes, surprises and events to cover over the next 12 months in world politics.
On a more global scale, these elections could result in a shift that may lead to a drastically different Europe, American, Middle East or even China (although as China’s elections are anything but democratic, that is highly unlikely).
Another story on the horizon which has been highlighted in the last month during the Republican Presidential Debates, is the issue of ‘Iran’. Iran is becoming increasingly aggressive as seen by their intent to block the strait of Hormuz, the continuation of their nuclear program, and their Presidents recent tour of South America, which includes the increasingly like-minded Venezuela, who under Chavez has become undoubtedly anti-American.
So if you were one of those people who were surprised by the volatility of 2011, politically at least, it’s safe to say that you haven’t seen anything yet.