2016 was a fascinating year in politics with an election, Brexit and the US Presidential race.
Now we are near the end of the year, I thought I would take a look ahead to see what else could surprise us in 2017.
(This list is by no means definitive, if I have missed anything put it in the comments section below).
- Article 50- The Prime Minister has said she will activate Article 50 by the end of March 2017. Look out for the parties who will try to amend the bill that will be presented to the House of Commons and how the government responds to it.
- This leads me very nicely onto my second point which is a possible early General Election. If the polls remain strong for the Conservative party and members of the opposition won’t play ball over Article 50, this would allow May the chance to seek her own mandate.
- French Presidential Election- France heads to the polls this year with the Far right candidate Marine Le Pen polling strongly in most of the polling being done right now. Watch out for how many former Socialist heartlands that she performs well in, which will give you some indication about how she will do in the second round in May.
- German Parliamentary Elections-Germany heads to the polls next year, whilst Angela Merkel’s CDU is set to be the largest party it is not sure how well the far right and left will do in the elections. Both of these sides are Euro-sceptic and could influence how strong she is going into her fourth term.
- RHI Scheme- Interesting to see how this plays out after the Christmas break. In January, Sinn Fein need some important concessions from the DUP and to be seen to halt the excesses of the scheme.
- 10 years of devolution- In May, Northern Ireland will celebrate 10 years of continuous devolved government under the DUP/Sinn Fein. Expect to hear noises about the possible departure of Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister and speculation about his replacement (Conor Murphy, John O’Dowd and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir).
- Dynamics within the Executive-If there is change within Sinn Fein, watch the dynamics within the Executive as a new head of the Sinn Fein Ministerial team attempts to press the reset button on relations with the DUP. Nationalism ends 2016 in a weaker position than it started the year, which will make Sinn Fein in particular do some new thinking/new approaches if the opportunity arises. Changes in the Executive will also have consequences for the opposition and how they work together. Will we see Mike Nesbitt at the SDLP conference in early 2017?
- Ireland-Watch what happens in the Republic next year, Enda Kenny’s government is far from stable and his leadership is under pressure. Expect TDs in Fine Gael to begin more openly speculating about a post Kenny future after he passes the six year mark as Taoiseach in March.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs