Three things to watch, four days into the new year


Photo by La Victorie on Unsplash

A narcissist US president inciting a riot to stop a legitimate election result from being certified. A giant ship blocking the Suez Canal. Supply chain snarls. New coronavirus variants. The Great Resignation. If the old year showed anything, it was the difficulty of forecasting anything very much about 2022. ‘The Economist’ calls the times we live in an “era of predictable unpredictability”. Accordingly, predictions are a mug’s game. Better perhaps to identify what to watch. Here are three developing stories to keep an eye on:

** What happens with Ukraine?

Russia’s Vladimir Putin continues to keep troops on the border with Ukraine and is demanding a reduced Nato footprint in the region. US president Joe Biden has promised an appropriate and decisive response if Ukraine is attacked, but the what ifs remain imponderable.

** Who will lead France, Brazil, Hungary and Australia?

Emmanuel Macron faces a challenger on the centre-right, the far right and the far far right. Jair Bolsonaro faces his own falling popularity and Lula. Viktor Orban faces a crunch moment in his long struggle to enshrine “illiberal democracy” once and for all. And Scott Morrison faces a campaign season that’s expected to be more local than national because states and territories experienced the pandemic very differently over the past two years.

** What happens in the US midterms?

Everyone is predicting a “shellacking” for President Biden’s Democratic Party but 10 months out is not a great moment to pronounce.