What to look out for in 2017….

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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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?
  8. 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.

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  • Sergiogiorgio

    Hopefully an independent judge inquiry in to the RHI and yet another tarnished, corrupt DUP FM gets the heave ho’. Europe lurches to the right in both France and Germany causing much navel gazing as terrorist attacks escalate from uncontrolled immigration. Brexit becomes less of an issue for EU and UK gets on with it. And I can’t believe you missed Year zero of the Trump presidency…God help us all.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Brexit wasn’t a 2016 thing, it has yet to happen.
    This is the issue in NI. If May goes for a token Brexit then people may still talk about wood boilers. But if she goes for a harder Brexit and has not clearly provided for NI then the peace settlement has more important problems than wood chips. SF voters may or not not be worked up about the present issues, but they certainly will not expect SF to stand idly by while May tries to drive us back to the 1950s cheered on by the unionists. Do we still have a Secretary of State? It is notable how he has failed to make even the least plan for NI in this matter.

  • Granni Trixie

    David could you not think of any able women in SF as likely contenders to replace MMG?

    I was thinking myself that Conor Murphy was already ‘the chosen one’ based on him being largely one who gave SF response to the latest scandal. A choice which Doesn’t say a say a lot for the Party given his baggage such as an employment misdemeanour.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Seeking retribution for a misdeed when the overall calibre of the person in question can be reasonably measured as imperfect but decent is one of the greatest obstacles to socio political stability these days.

  • Granni Trixie

    I so agree – we are all imperfect – but some are more so than others.

  • Peter Doran

    David, I’d also include the SNP’s continuing attempts to build a consensus behind Independence on the back of their calibrated response to Brexit. Look out, for example, for Theresa May’s response to the SNP proposals on remaining within the European single market and Customs Union; aspects of the SNP’s proposals are locked into or contingent on arguments regarding the post-Brexit future of the border in Ireland; equally, 2017 could see an early election called in the Republic of Ireland if FF creep ahead in the polls.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    And all deserve a chance regardless of background

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Yes indeed, Scotland could be the ‘big story’ this time next year. An election in the South with new leaders in SF and FG might thwart the hopes of FF.

  • J D

    When the public find out who is benefiting from the scheme, and to which parties they are connected then it will get interesting. Also be interesting to see which parties clamour for release and which clamour for privacy.

  • Granni Trixie

    We do not all deserve a chance to run the country ability and integrity should come into it. Bear in mind that Conor Murohy being legally in the wrong over appointments he made was relatively recent so I’m not talking about a long ago dubious past. Given the history of inequality in NI surely you would agree that breaches and croneyism are hardly leadership qualities. Unless that’s the best you have. Which doesn’t say much for SF.

  • lizmcneill

    No Trump or USA bullet point? Although at this point, would Trump declaring war on China via tweet at 3am EST be actually *surprising?*?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    First of all i have no connection with Sinn Fein which straight away should suggest you need to question your own preconceptions.

    Secondly, how many transgressions is Murphy guilty of since power sharing began. I am only aware of one but you speak in the plural? Can you explain?

    The history of inequality in the North had pattern, going back decades and institionally systemic; where does Murphy fit in? Where is the pattern showing him to be untrustworthy.

    The best we have are all imperfect human beings, your rush for vengence is not unique it is common enough. Its not ‘just’ by any means. Injustice is equally as ugly.

  • AntrimGael

    I think there are going to major changes at the top of Sinn Fein very soon for various reasons. It seems that illness is going to force Martin McGuinness to stand down and they are starting to get the message that their core constituency is NOT happy at the minute at the perceived weakness of Sinn Fein within the Executive. In their drive to broaden their Southern vote they have completely taken for granted, and alienated in the process, the Northern Nationalist community.
    As for the South, while Adams remains popular in Louth he is seen as a hindrance to Sinn Fein’s wider ambitions in the 26 counties because no matter what policies the Shinners put forward the Indo and RTE will ALWAYS use individual victims to attack the old brigade especially Adams. The Southern media and political Establishments couldn’t give a monkeys about victims but when they come in handy as a political weapon they seize on to them like a blood sucking leech. I despise them intensely.

  • Granni Trixie

    I didn’t particularly want to rake over this but must as you appear in denial and seem to be saying it is not reasonable to ask if SF are so impoverished if talent that they opt for Murphy to follow MMG:
    Leaving to one side that he did time for being in the IRA and having explosives plus he refused to acknowledge the wrong of the Brighton bomb when giving a talk to Conservatives (let’s call that ‘the past’), lets turn to more recent times when an Employment tribunal awarded a candidate £150,000 damages in compensation for discrimination. Murphy evidence was found to be “implausible and lacking credibility”. There was also found in the Ministry he lead to be “a material bias against applicants coming from a Protestant background”.

    One of many grievances which fuelled the troubles originally was that there was not a level playing field for Catholics in employment,public appointments and housing etc. Strong Fair Emoloyment laws I would argue have had positive impact in improving the situation. Civil rights was not about discriminating against Protestants and as in this case, to favour people you know (which came out in the case, suggesting croneyism).
    We need something better across the board at leadership level.

  • billodrees

    Local elections in May will be interesting. In Scotland the Labour Party will finally be interred. That will release Corbyn to work tactically with the SNP in Westminster ( SNP are too canny to align strategically with him). Brexit will be a factor in local elections in England as Remainers vote for Lib Dems to send a message to Teresa May.
    A strengthening of Nicola Sturgeons mandate could send a message to Ulster unionists who understand how cataclysmic Brexit will be for Ulster. The DUP’s acceptance of Brexit could be more openly challenged.
    The stronger likelihood of an Independent Scotland remaining in the EU and leaving the UK will raise existential questions in Ulster.

  • billodrees

    2017
    Imagine Prince Charles inheriting the English throne in 2017.
    Can you imagine the people of Scotland or Northern Ireland loving that accession?
    How will it effect the various senses of identity in Ulster!
    How will it impact the Independence vote, IndyRef#2, in Scotland?

  • Lex.Butler

    2016 was the high water mark of the alt.right simply because because everyone else was sleeping, still stuck in reducing deficits without looking at the devastation this policy caused. Expect the centre left to begin to fight back in 2017. Democracy will revive itself yet again when faced with the alternatives.

  • hgreen

    I’m not expecting a UK general election. The Richmond bye election torpedoed that. Plus May is clearly an incompetent fool who is currently being managed by her party. Exposing her to the scrutiny of a GE won’t turn out well.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Democracy gave you the EU out vote. It also gave you the Scotish in vote. What’s undemocratic is the continued drip, drip of further votes. That’s not democracy, it’s something very different. As to the May comment below, there is no opposition in the UK. Labour will continue to be an irrelevance as long as the hard Left rules….silly 70’s Marxist drivel.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    I am not at all in denial. As far as republican and loyalist actions are concerned during the troubles, the GFA opened up space for those ex combatants to shift into peaceful politics and become part of the political class, that was endorsed by the overwhelming majority of people on this Island. Those who do not like it for whatever reason do not get to rewrite the terms to suit their own agenda.

    The complaint against murphy was upheld and his department was sorted out acvordingly. Since then nothing has materialised to suggest he didnt learn his lesson. Unless you know something the rest of us dont?

  • Lex.Butler

    The whole idea of of a democracy is that you can change your mind.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Guessing the vote didn’t go your way….suck it up Lex or have some lemon with your bitterness.

  • Lex.Butler

    The defining quality of the alt.right is rudeness and attempting to shut up any alternative views. QED.

  • eamoncorbett

    Maybe she will have to accept the Brexit that Angela and Francois will allow , after all they will have the biggest say .

  • Granni Trixie

    His and MMG response to the Tribunal findings was that Murphy “hadn’t a sectarian bine in his body” – hardly suggestive of lessons having been learnt, though you would think having to shell out £150,000 would bring it home.
    But maybe you know something the rest of us don’t.

  • eamoncorbett

    Hope you’re right , but there are a lot of lunatics in high office at the moment and could be there for some time.

  • J D

    I couldn’t be more delighted with Brexit. The Tories slitting the UK’s throat, independent Scotland and re-united Ireland within 10 years. What’s not to celebrate?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    All i know is that remembering everything and forgiving nothing does not tend to work out in the longterm. Bitterness, hate, resentment and vengefulness might brung succour to some, fair enough if thats your sauce.

  • Granni Trixie

    My final word on this topic is that the NIw case is not ‘the past’ but fairly recent and that you seem to be advocating that we aspire to really low standards in leaders

  • Croiteir

    In the south an election caused by pylons in Meath, the north hoo hah over RHI scheme leads to nothing, but McGuinness retires causing problems as SF politburo appoints a new leader which upsets other pretenders, FF finally announces that it is organising in the north causing the SDLP to break up, with some heading to Labour and Alliance. In Britain the weak leader that is May triggers Brexit and her own demise in insider fighting. In Scotland the SNP, after May formally initiates Art 50, call for a new independence vote and want it with two years to be able to say that they will still be in Europe.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    No i feel we should aspire to higher standards of understanding and forgiveness

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Medium term the UK will be fine. Europe is a disaster (socially, federally, financially) and the Euro is a busted flush. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the SNP shoot themselves in the foot and get in the club door just as everyone else runs for the exits. You may have a point on a UI but the south is in a very precarious position. All it has is low taxes and EU membership. Remove one or other or both and they will be running to Westminster for another handout…remember Osborne’s largesse last time around. Whatever, I don’t think it’s going to work out to your satisfaction….HNY old stick and up the socialist revolution ????

  • Ryan A

    I’d have thought the same but when I dug a bit deeper into Richmond I thought different. It has historically been a Lib Dem / Conservative toss up seat with a ~10% margin, bar 2015 when the Lib Dem’s were almost wiped out. It’s also an extremely prosperous seat in terms of the rest of the UK and had a perfect storm in that it was a huge vote for remain in June with a pro-brexit MP – won with a ground war that the Lib Dem’s could not sustain in a general. The more recent by-election in Lincolnshire showed the Conservative vote largely holding up in what is more the Tories heartland. Cumbria in January could be a game changer. If Labour hold or lose narrowly I think you could be right. If the Conservatives rip it from them by more than a few thousand votes I’d say we’re odds on for a general.

  • Kevin Breslin

    6. Outside bet … Michelle O’Neill replacing Martin McGuinness … I guess that would still be Marlene.

    I suppose if John or Connor become Deputy Leader say bye to Marlene and hellow to Jarlene or Carlene

  • Kevin Breslin

    Fianna Fáil say they won’t be entering the North until what 2019 or so didn’t they. Frankly the SDLP is doing well and is getting some new recruits in.

    But I tell you what, if they break away from their confidence and supply arrangement and have an early election, I’ll stand in Donegal as an Independent if neither the Social Democrats nor the Labour Party do.

  • J D

    So will the patient that just took a shotgun to both feet. But the quality of life will be quite reduced.

    Please, please, please advocate as hard as you can for a hard Brexit! The harder the better.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Toys and pram JD. We are where we are. Bon chance.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    The proletariat spoke Lex. Move on. Try and provide a cogent argument before you arbitrarily QED.

  • Croiteir

    No FF did not say that – MM said at an Ard Fheis in Killarney in that FF “should” note not “would” target 2019 to enter electoral politics in the north, he has made a few similar statements regarding that target. Slightly different but importantly different. That is why I say they announce something this coming year, possibly this spring at their AF. Otherwise they will have a very hard time developing their team before any election in regard to time constraints.

    As for the SDLP. I deduce from your answer that you are a member to be able to comment on new membership. So I defer to your insider knowledge but I do not see a swelling of support for them in the general public. I may well be wrong on this but I don’t see it.

    If FF do announce they will stand in the next council/assembly elections here I cannot see the SDLP surviving.

    As for you standing in Donegal That’s is very courageous.

  • Katyusha

    Europe is a disaster (socially, federally, financially) and the Euro is a busted flush.

    Ever been on the continent recently? It’s a picture of stability compared to post-Brexit UK (which is astonishing, frankly, because taken at face value, Europe should not be in good health)

    You may have a point on a UI but the south is in a very precarious position. All it has is low taxes and EU membership. Remove one or other or both and they will be running to Westminster for another handout

    Right. And how in earth do you think either of those two things are going to change in the near future?

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Yep – spend one week in four in France or Germany with work. Socialism in France has proved a disaster. Both countries are reeling from terrorist attacks so lots of military on the streets. Italy’s banking system is in ruins and getting worse and Greece is still Greece, so yes a disaster per my earlier post. Irelands tax wangle should and will be challenged and if the EU coughs then Ireland gets pneumonia. Irelands problem, unlike the U.K., will not be of its own choosing, hence “precarious”. Guessing you are another person who didn’t like the democratic vote.

  • Katyusha

    I couldn’t care less about the “democratic vote”. I live in Germany, so watched the entire farce unfold thankful that I’d skipped the country at a point when it decided to commit collective economic suicide and scapegoat others for the failings of its own government. Coupled to the hefty boost it gave my wage packet, I can’t really complain. Made me think twice about returning to the UK though, like a lot of people (including many employers in my industry) I’m going to sit out the next few years and see what happens.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Glad you benefited financially. What’s the local take to Merkel and her million refugees?

  • Katyusha

    Don’t really see many of them locally, and I live in solid SPD territory (which is also fairly mixed and has a very young population) where the only backlash has been against the AfD (there’s still a strand of radical international socialism here that is pretty much extinct in the UK). It’s more of a hot topic in the former East where immigration levels are historically very low.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Interesting to hear an “in country” opinion. I reckon Merkel has committed political suicide. The attacks will intensify and Germans are naturally conservative, so the right wing will use it as political capital. I’ll be sorry to see Merkel taking the fall as she’s been a strong/effective leader but the open door policy will prove a disaster for her.

  • Jams O’Donnell

    “hard Left” – you must be easily frightened. Corbyn is no more ‘far left’ than May is not a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.

  • Jams O’Donnell

    And amen to that too.

  • Jams O’Donnell

    “Socialism” in France – did you get that idea from your ‘hard left’ handbook? You’ll be telling us next that Trump is an anti-business communist. Hang on, you probably WILL.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Sorry Jams – your posts have completely lost me. You still on the Xmas sherry?

  • Skibo

    Should Michelle O’Neill not be considered within the contenders. She has done well in Agriculture and seems to be well liked in the Health Ministry. She also brings a youthful look and a bit of style.

  • Skibo

    I do not see an election imminent in the South. Brexit will be a serious issue to agree and FF will not want to be tarred with a failure. They will do their best to ensure Brexit will be off the table before they make their move for power. That way they can lay the blame of a bad Brexit at the door of FG or take the praise from a good Brexit, pointing out their directing from the sidelines.

  • Skibo

    If FF are going to stand in 2019, then 2017 is the year to start preparation. SDLP may not go so quietly and may seek union with the Irish Labour party. That what they can contest the issue of not being an all Ireland party.

  • Croiteir

    Agreed