The big events that come to define a year, or even a decade, are rarely predicted.
No one foresaw the 9/11 attacks on the US in 2001 which later swamped the leaderships of Tony Blair and George W Bush.
This time, a year ago, most experts doubted that Russia would go ahead with the fierce attack on Ukrainewhich he then released on February 24.
Neither did finance ministers and markets anticipate the cost of living crisis that it would precipitate the attack and that it would affect us all.
That doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time to look to 2023.
It is possible to identify dates and trends that will help shape the next 12 months.
With all their economies enduring high prices, inflation, and interest rates, it will be a relief for the G7 political leaders that there are no major, potentially ruling-ending elections in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, the United States, or the UK in 2023.
The next reckoning with voters in the US and UK is set for 2024.
Next year the government parties and their main opposition will take care of positioning themselves in the best possible position for victory.
January 2024 will see the formal start of the long run for the White House.
That means 2023 will determine who the nominees will be and whether Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be the contenders, in a repeat of 2020.
Both men have indicated they intend to run, despite the fact that Trump would be 82 at the end of a second term and Biden 86.
Biden’s candidacy needs Trump to be in the running.
In the polls, he is the best-placed Democrat to defeat Trump, again, but would lose to almost any other Republican.
But Trump’s legal troubles are mounting.
Criminal charges for the insurrection of January 6, 2021 it could still be added to the fraud prosecutions of his New York City businesses and the FBI investigation into the illegal removal of White House documents.
As Trump’s re-election hopes fade, Republicans appear to be moving toward an open selection process, with Ron DeSantis, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley and Mike Pence among those expected to make their ambitions clear in the coming months. .
Biden would then come under intense pressure from Democrats to resign, in the hope that a new candidate might emerge, who looks like a likely winner.
Tightly controlled by the new 118th Congress, Republicans plan to launch investigations into the president, and especially his errant son Hunter Biden.
But both Republicans and Democrats, or both, could be torn apart by bitter internal divisions.
In the UK, after three Conservative Prime Ministers in a single year, Rishi Sunak should feel secure in his job until the election, but that’s not the way the Conservative Party has done things recently.
The Conservatives start the year behind Labor by a staggering 25 points in opinion polls.
If the Tories do poorly in the local elections on May 4, there is a chance of ousting the prime minister.
In the equivalent contests four years ago, a blow to the Tories, putting them on a par with Labor in the equivalent share of the vote nationally, was the beginning of the end for Theresa May, ousted a few months later.
Now, as in 2019, Boris Johnson is signaling his availability to take over.
Elections for councils in Northern Ireland have been postponed to two weeks later, otherwise a full recount of votes would take place on Coronation Day.
It is quite possible that there was a new series of elections for the deadlocked assembly in Stormont.
The Westminster government has set a January 19 deadline for power sharing to resume between communities.
There are no signs that it will do so because the DUP is demanding the abandonment of the deal with the EU on post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland.
In the run up to the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday deal in April, there will be intense international focus on how the Sunak government handles this difficult confrontation between the United Kingdom and the EU.
President Biden likes to celebrate his Irish roots and recently appointed Joseph Kennedy III as his special envoy to Northern Ireland.
He has feted President Emmanuel Macron of France on a state visit, while Prime Minister Sunak has yet to visit the White House.
The solidarity of the European Union will also be celebrated on January 22 when France and Germany celebrate the 60th anniversary of their Elysee treaty, which formally welded together the axis that has propelled the EU ever since.
The European project will be further deepened at the beginning of the year, when Croatia, which recently joined the EU, becomes part of the eurozone currency and the Schengen free movement area.
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In other parts of the Balkans, Tensions rise again between Kosovo and Serbia.
Elections are scheduled in both Turkey and Greece this summer.
The increasingly autocratic prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is fighting to extend his 20 years in office, against a resurgent opposition.
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Meanwhile, Kyriakos Mitsotakis is on track to remain in power, but with reduced control in parliament.
He could yet dramatically increase his popularity by ensuring the return to Athens of the Elgin Marbles, now better known as the Parthenon Statues.
Under the chairmanship of George Osborne, the British Museum is nearing a deal. That, in turn, would leave Sunak with a headache, as full restitution would require an Act of Parliament.
On January 1, Lula da Silva will take office as the new president of Brazil. The leftist has vowed to reverse the environmentally destructive policies of his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.
Presidents and prime ministers come and go, but the UK hasn’t had a change of head of state or a coronation for over 70 years.
There will be a double festive around the coronation on May 6th.
King Charles plans a “small” ceremony that will last an hour.
No one knows if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will attend.
Prince Harry must further polish his grievances with the publication of a new memoir, Spare, in early 2023.
Entertainment highlights in 2023 include the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July.
The tournament is meant to cement the huge surge in interest in women’s football, with high hopes being pinned on the England team.
Football fan Sir Keir Starmer will cheer them on, even as he and the Labor Party struggle to define what a woman is due to the trans rights controversy.
Liverpool has stepped in to host the Eurovision Song Contest in Mayinstead of this year’s winner, war-torn Ukraine.
Whatever stage the conflict has reached by then, it will inevitably be a bittersweet occasion.
The annual G7 meeting will also be a poignant reminder of the horrors of war.
The Japanese hosts are holding the summit in Hiroshima, the city where the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945.
We can’t foresee epoch-defining impacts in the future, but moving into the new year also means reflecting on the harsh lessons of the past.