W&D's 2017 election predictions
W&D has explored the entrails, read the runes, gazed the crystal ball and interpreted the star signs. His predictions for the various 2017 elections follow. He hastens to add that no liability will attach to any prediction; the following is not personal financial advice, etc, etc. And if the facts change, he will change his mind, Sir.
Two key themes have emerged.
In Europe: how far will countries swing to the right? The 'right' is not, in this instance, a descriptor of economic policy, but one of nationalism. The nationalism cloaks, in many cases, anti- or much reduced, immigration.
Elsewhere: how far will democracy be allowed to push? In Hong Kong, the outcome will probably be a continuation of Beijing's anti-democratic policies. In Iran, it will be two steps forward and one step back. Any push to sever the rapprochement with the West (e.g at Tsar Trump's instruction) will re-insert hardliners in the opaque government structure. W&D's wish: aside from any anti-Israel activity, gently encourage Iran and allow the rising middle class to help lift the gaze of the masses to look over the clerical parapet to a more democratic world.
General election. The right-wing Party for Freedom now leads in the polls. Its ideology is Dutch nationalism, anti-Islam, anti-immigration, anti-EU. It's is in favour of economic liberalism, de-centralisation. The incumbent government (but in coalition) party, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy is struggling in the polls, but is still second behind the Party for Freedom. W&D says: Party for Freedom.
Hong Kong: 26-Mar
Chief Executive election. This will be most interesting, to see if Beijing increases the pressure of its boot on the throat of democracy in Hong Kong. 601 votes of the 1,200 Election Committee are required. Independent Woo Kwok-hing will probably run against pro-Beijing Regina Ip. Former Financial Secretary, John Tsang may also run. W&D says: If Tsang runs, he should win.
Local elections. The interest here is that local elections, which are generally party-based, are a barometer for sentiment for the leaders of the major parties. By election date the Prime Minister's Brexit strategy will be clearer. And Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor Leader, will have had time to re-establish his leadership. So the local elections will effectively be a poll on each. W&D says: Labour Party wipe-out, but Conservatives don't pick up all of the gains.
France: 23-Apr & 7-May
Presidential election. This was going to be a two horse-race, with each horse having only far-side legs. The run-off was predicted to be between the Republican Party's economically dry François Fillon (who has a Welsh wife) against the National Front's Marine Le Pen.
The Socialists have chosen Benoit Hamon, a far-left candidate with much in common with the hapless UK Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. M Hamon has promised to bring in universal basic income - a state handout to all adults regardless of income. That will cost a mere €480 billion. That confirms the irrelevance of the main-stream Socialists.
But a smokey has emerged: M. Emmanuel Macron. M Macron, the former economy minister and investment banker, quit the Socialist Party last year. He is young and energetic. He will capture the sensible rump of the Socialists and the more liberal (i.e. centrist) of the Republican Party.
However, the swing to the right remains. M Fillon should be one of the final two, but there are rumours of political corruption. The other is likely to be Le Pen, but M Macron might surprise. A win for Le Pen would be disastrous for the EU, France's economy and for Jews, Muslims, Asians, Romish, etc. W&D says: Fillon, if he makes it to the final two.
Presidential. The President is the highest directly elected official and is second only to the Supreme Leader (currently Ali Khamenei) in authority. The latter controls the key government organisations of the armed forces, judiciary and state television. The former, more-or-less the rest. The incumbent, and moderate, Hassan Rouhani is likely to run for a second term. The former President, and conservative strongman, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was advised by the Supreme Leader not to again run for election. W&D says: Rouhani.
Germany: Between 27-Aug and 22-Oct
General election. Angela Merkel's centre-left CDU should be returned, but will be up against the emerging right wing party: Alternative for Germany, with the telegenic Frauke Petry as its leader. This might simply be a referendum on immigration. W&D says: Merkel.
General election. Yawn. The coalition of moderate right-wing parties will probably continue, but a coalition of left wing parties currently narrowly leads the polls. W&D says: Another yawn.