2017 could be the biggest year for geopolitical risk since WWII. Elections in key countries could see a major reshuffling of power and transformation of the current world order.
With last year’s unexpected outcomes in the UK Brexit vote and US presidential election casting doubt over the effectiveness of conventional polls, it will be more important than ever for businesses to leverage cutting edge models of risk intelligence, including AI solutions, to gain as much foresight as possible into potential political upheavals.
Here are the 5 elections that could have the biggest impact on geopolitical risk in 2017 that Polecat will be following closely.
1. The Netherlands General Election (15 March)
While the Netherlands is a relatively small country, its status as a founding member of the European Union means that the outcome of the election could further weaken the bloc. Geert Wilders, the nativist euro-sceptic leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom is running for Prime Minister. He was convicted last month of inciting racial discrimination. Surprisingly, this boosted his standing in polls, which indicates more sympathy among voters for his cause than previously thought. There’s no telling how much more his support will grow in the coming weeks.
2. France General Election (23 April & 7 May)
The French election in the spring may have the highest stakes. Currently, Francois Fillon is the front runner and is likely to go head to head with Marine Le Pen in May. While Fillon is more moderate than the far-right, anti-EU Le Pen, both are pro-Moscow and anti-America. So while a victory for Fillon may prevent a Brexit style referendum, either result will fundamentally change the bloc’s relationship with east and west.
3. German Federal Election (Autumn)
The fate of the EU could teeter on the outcome of the German federal election depending on the outcome of the French and Dutch elections. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has long been a champion of liberal western values. While she’s currently favoured to win re-election, lots could change between now and then.
4. Iranian Presidential Election (19 May)
Although not getting as much attention, the Iranian presidential election will play a crucial role in future geo-politics. The current president, Hassan Rouhani, will be running for re-election. During his time in office he has thawed relationships with the west, struck an agreement on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and lifted tough sanctions imposed on the country. There are concerns that a new hardliner president could reverse course, jeopardising regional stability and relations with world powers.
5. China’s 19th Communist Party Congress
Every five years members of China’s ruling communist party gather in Beijing to determine who will make up the party’s leadership. This year the turnover in the leadership is expected to be huge- akin to changing half the members of the US House of Representatives. Rumours are circulating that China’s current premier, Xi Jin Ping, is looking to consolidate power at the event. This could have a major impact on the rising world power’s influence on world affairs.