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12/31/16

Global Political Outlook: The world in 2017: Trump's long shadow and other events to watch

USA: The main thing to watch in 2017 in the US and in the world is the Von Trump family presidency, as dad and the kids likely won't even wrestle with policy issues, because of their supreme confidence in their own grasp of issues like the Middle East and nuclear arms.

It would be great if the shock of the Trump presidency sparked genuine grassroots interest in fixing American's dysfunctional democracy -  only about 55 per cent of eligible voters bothered to go to the polls in 2016 and democracy is retarded by serial maladies, from gerrymandered electorates to state-driven voter suppression to the role of lobbyists to big political donations.

As for US-Russian relations, the fallout from Vladimir Putin's alleged interference in the US elections will likely play out in the first months of the Trump administration, as Trump himself encounters resistance from his own Republican camp on sweeping it under the carpet.

China: One thing to watch in 2017 will be the political jostling and manoeuvring that will heat up ahead of a key Chinese leadership reshuffle at the 19th Party Congress to be held towards the end of the year. All eyes will be on any signalling of a potential future successor to President Xi Jinping, though speculation continues to firm that Xi plans to defy party convention and remain in power beyond the end of his second five-year term in 2022.

Taiwan looks set to pass a marriage equality bill allowing same-sex couples to wed, a move overwhelmingly backed by popular sentiment. Despite a stagnating economy and strained cross-strait relations, becoming the first Asian jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage will reinforce its reputation as one of the region's most progressive, vibrant and confident democracies.​

The South China Sea will remain the region's flashpoint with growing concern about the potential for conflict. Incoming US President Donald Trump has already raised questions about the "One China" policy after making a telephone call to Taiwan's leader. What happens in the strategic waters of the South China Sea, where most of Australia's trade passes, will depend on how Trump sets the parameters with China's thin-skinned communist rulers in 2017

Europe: Worst-case scenarios seem to have popped up quite a lot recently, which is a worry, because the worst-case scenario for Europe in 2017 is the effective collapse of the European Union. Under the continuing threat of terrorist attacks and the pressure of incoming refugees from Africa and the Middle East, politics is turning insular. Nationalism is on the rise.

On the eastern front, European states will continue to openly flirt with Russia, or bristle with worry about Donald Trump's commitment to NATO and their security.

Key elections will test whether the mood is merely grim or actually apocalyptic. Geert Wilders' anti-Islam, anti-immigration party will threaten to seize a share of power in the Netherlands, and the National Front's Marine Le Pen is likely to go head-to-head with social and economic conservative Francois Fillon in the French presidential race.

Italy may also go to the polls, with the anti-euro Five Star party in rude electoral health.

Then later in the year, Angela Merkel faces a tough fight to prove Germany's political centre can still command a majority.

Meanwhile, Britain will continue to tie itself in knots over what Brexit is going to involve, and how on earth it can actually be turned from a radical idea into a not-complete-debacle.

Oh, and, Eurovision is in Kiev this year. That's going to be weird..

The world in 2017: Trump's long shadow and other events to watch

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