More Voter Revolt in 2017?

Voter revolt against incumbents is likely to continue internationally in 2017.

Elections will be held this year in four of the six founding members of the European Union (EU). Populist, Eurosceptic and nationalist forces appear to be growing in each.

These same factors doubtless prevailed narrowly in the U.K. Brexit referendum. Before the end of March, Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, notifying the EU of the UK’s intention to withdraw. 

Her government will then have two difficult years to negotiate its Brexit with the other 27 members. An additional complication was added in November when Britain’s High Court ruled that members of Parliament must give their approval before negotiations can begin. A majority of them as of now appear likely to vote ‘no’.

The Netherlands election is on March 15, where the Eurosceptic, anti-migration, and anti-Islam candidate Geert Wilders now leads in opinion polls. If Wilders wins, most other political parties will likely refuse to support him, but he is already influencing Dutch policies.

Its House of Representatives recently voted for a partial ban on the burqa. Wilders’ public support probably means as well that no Dutch government of any stripe will be willing to agree to the fiscal transfers necessary to allow the Eurozone to function effectively as a currency union.

France’s presidential election on April 23 will be next. EU support appears to be waning across France partly due to effective campaigning by far-right nationalist leader Marine Le Pen. She will probably reach the run-off election against François Fillon, a former prime minister. She will also campaign against ‘Islamification’ and immigration.

In Germany, which must hold its election before Oct. 22, the globally-respected defender of liberal democracy and the EU, Angela Merkel, will compete for a fourth term as chancellor against the ultra-nationalist Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party.

Similar to Donald Trump and others, the AfD is anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. Fortunately, all opinion surveys to date indicate that Merkel will be re-elected handily. She currently has a 57 per cent approval rating and is overwhelming favoured to win re-election.

Another important but deeply-flawed election is the presidential race in Iran on May 19. Current president Hassan Rouhani is seeking a second term. Under him, Iran signed the 2015 nuclear deal with several Western powers. However, the deal’s future is uncertain, given major tensions over sanctions, a widespread lack of confidence that the regime will honor its provisions and the fact that president-elect Trump has said he will scrap it. 

The Italian election—if it occurs this year—is potentially the most existentially dangerous for the E.U. Matteo Renzi’s defeat in the recent constitutional reform referendum illustrates the anger of many Italians.

As commentator James Forsyth recently noted, “By some measures, southern Italy is now poorer than Poland, while manufacturing in northern Italy is struggling to compete because the euro has inflated its costs. Across the country as a whole, economic growth has been flat for 15 years… In these circumstances, one can see why voters there might regard a leap into the unknown as preferable to the status quo”.

Next July, the Group of Twenty (G20) will meet in Hamburg. The issue of how to increase global economic growth will be central. Some predict that with a Trump administration, there could be more investment in the United States, which could provide impetus for other G20 countries to increase their own investments.

Trump has indicated that the United States may reverse its positionson some of the issues on which it has been leading internationally. The most critical need is to address issues related to economic growth and those related to social inclusion—making globalization work for all. 

In November, the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) will be held in Bonn. The question of the United States’ commitment to the Paris agreement is predominant, but nations should have some clarity by then on the direction of Trump’s environmental policies. 

Canada’s intention to host the UN peacekeeping conference sometime in 2017 will ensure continued dialogue on issues related to security and defense in a world where threats are multi-faceted and peace is increasingly harder to keep—not at all unlike the tumultuous, war-plagued world of 1917.

On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Because Americans are so deeply polarized, there is major apprehension about what he will do once president.

Will he carry out his numerous campaign pronouncements to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, leave NATO, repeal Obamacare, reform NAFTA and pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP)? What about his country’s climate commitment and its relationships with Russia, China and others? The world will be watching anxiously.

David Kilgour, a lawyer by profession, served in Canada’s House of Commons for almost 27 years. In Jean Chretien’s Cabinet, he was secretary of state (Africa and Latin America) and secretary of state (Asia-Pacific). He is the author of several books and co-author with David Matas of “Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs.”


Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.