They say a week is a long time in politics but I daresay we thought that 2016 would be such an arduous, and uncertain year where the course of history has changed significantly and populism and anti-establishment politics has its day. There is no doubt the forefront of the political activity going forward for 2017 and beyond will continue to be Brexit or Trump related.
2017 will bring many further elections across the globe and we will see further anti-establishment results with a possible uprooting of Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond by-election as this issues goes to print.
Italy will add further concerns and woes to the Eurozone with the Referendum on 4th December. PM Mario Renzi has indicated that a “No” vote will result in his resignation. Italians will be voting to either approve or reject a major constitutional reform. The two chambers currently have bicameral or equal powers which slow down their law-making process and the question is whether to change the constitutional make up of the Senate, the Upper chamber of the Italian parliament and reduce the number of Senators from 315 to 100, whereby senators would no longer be directly elected. The reformed Senate would be comprised of regional assemblies and those appointed by the President for special merits. In effect Renzi’s political future is on the line.
Italy’s problems are certainly Europe’s problems. Italian lenders have not coped well with the 13-year low growth environment, whereby loans have slowly deteriorated. Nearly one fifth of all loans in the Italian banking system are classified as troubled, which is roughly 360 billion Euros. That accounts to 40 percent of all the bad loans of the countries within the Euro. Unemployment is over 11 percent and the ageing population with few women working don’t help the economy combined with generations of family run businesses that are struggling to survive against low cost global competition.
Trade will be a continued focus for the UK Government. In early March we will see a Summit of Trade Ministers of the 53 members of the Commonwealth descend to London as a follow up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in 2015.
Many political pundits are making it odds-on that the UK can’t trigger Article 50 before the March deadline, and a 35 percent chance of a General Election whereby the Lib Dems could beat the Labour party to second place with predictions of 22 percent of the vote (especially if they continue the Anti-Brexit stance and offer of a second referendum). Party leadership odds show Boris is still favourite to be the next Conservative leader with Keir Starmer looking a longer term bet for Labour leadership. Tony Blair is on his way back with a new venture (and much anti-brexit talk) and ways to continue his Middle East and philanthropic work.
Europe will see continued uncertainty politically through most of next year with the outcome of the French Election – the first round will be held on 23rd April between Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen.
In the UK local elections will be held outside London on 4th May whereby 35 councils in England will vote, There will be 12 directly elected Mayors to be voted for the newly created English Regional Mayors.