Before I sat down to write these predictions, I was not too excited about what 2020 had to offer in terms of political events and potential outcomes.
Thankfully, when quickly I began to realise that there is a lot to look forward to and the twelve months ahead could be a watershed year in many ways. I realise that my projections can often be a little bit biased towards the Left but I think I have managed to avoid doing so here, with the exception of Bernie Sanders as my pick for the Democratic Presidential Candidate.
In general, I actually see a relatively calm year and my previous fears of a massive global downturn have substantially subsided, particularly for 2020. There are certainly serious structural deficits in the global economy but they seem to be further from many minds than they even were this time last year.
Finally, I do see a further increase in “Green” politics across the planet. With the exception of a firm prediction for the Irish Green Party, I have not quantified this in any 2020 outcome as I see it more as a guiding theme that will impact and aid certain parties and figures in the contests discussed below.
Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic Presidential Nomination
I predicted that Bernie Sanders will be the next American President for almost two years now. I am not going to change it as this late juncture.
Objectively, looking at all the polling evidence, he is only the second favourite as things stand behind Joe Biden. However, I believe he has consolidated second place and is best positioned to challenge Biden while also capturing the hearts minds of both Democratic voters and the wider American electorate. That said, he probably does need to win at least two of the early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) to win so there should be further clarity on this prediction quite early in the year.
Democrats to Win the American Presidential Election
This is not an easy call to make at all. In fact, without knowing the Democratic nominee it may be a pointless endeavour. However, I still believe that Donald Trump will not be able to hold enough of the swing states required to repeat his 2016 victory.
I can see the Democrats taking back at least three of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana while Florida and Arizona could also become competitive.
Fine Gael to win Most Seats in next Irish General Election
The first of two Irish General Election predictions that are slightly hedged. Just like in the US Presidential Election, it is a toss-up between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail for who will finish with the Most Seats and lead the next Government.
I have gone with Fine Gael for Most Seats as I believe on the day enough people will decide that they are happy enough with the status quo to return Fine Gael with the most seats.
Michael Martin Next Taoiseach after next Irish General Election
However, on the other side of this hedge, there is a lot of discontent with the Fine Gael leadership and they will have very few options for coalition partners if the results are as tight as the current polls suggest.
Martin is a very shrewd political operator and may be able to cobble together a coalition involving the Greens, Labour and a smattering of Independents if the numbers are there to lead.
The Irish Greens to (at least) Double Seats to 6
The Greens are certainly a party on the rise again in Ireland. They only won two seats in the 2016 election but their ranks have been bolstered after Joe O’Brien’s by-election win in Dublin Fingal.
Further seat gains will not be easily come by but I can still see them double their current number to at least six as I believe they will be relatively transfer-friendly across the political spectrum.
Sinn Fein to (buck national trend?) Hold Two Seats in Louth
Sinn Fein currently holds 22 seats in the Dail having lost two TDs in Peader Toibin and Carol Nolan before Mark Ward won the Dublin Mid-West by-election in November 2019. It will be extremely difficult for Sinn Fein to make gains or even hold their current numbers given their recent electoral performances and current national polling.
However, I can see Louth being a rare bright spot as I think even with a first preference vote share drop, they still have a better chance of holding on to two seats than Fine Gael do, given the local political dynamics at play. As my home constituency, I will be following it closely as we approach the 2020 Irish General Election.
A Ministry of all Ireland/Island Affairs to be Created
Probably my most speculative call for 2020. Irrespective of whether Fine Gael or Fianna Fail lead the next government, I think there is a decent chance a new ministry is created that has a further all-island element. It may not explicitly mention Irish Unity, but the intention will be clear.
No Comprehensive Trade Deal Reached Between Britain and EU
Boris Johnson has 364 days to strike a trade deal with the European Union before the transition period ends on January 1st, 2021. I don’t believe he’ll manage to do so and there will almost certainly be a further extension or a contingency plan put in place to avoid Britain and the EU trading on WTO terms from that date forward.
Keir Starmer next Labour Leader
I don’t think Keir Starmer is the preferred candidate for any major faction of the British Labour Party. More importantly, though, I don’t think there are many groups that he has really isolated.
I think he has the ability to unsettle Boris Johnson at the dispatch box and he may just be able to unite the party in a coherent opposition.
Sadiq Khan to be next London Mayor
Sadiq Khan winning the 2020 London Mayoral Election may be a rare electoral bright spot for the Labour Party in recent times. He will face some opposition from the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Rory Stewart but I expect him to hold on and win a second term.
No Second Scottish Independence Referendum in 2020
If I was Scottish it would make my blood boil but there simply won't be a second Scottish Independence Referendum this year because the English, specifically the English Conservatives, won't allow it. When Westminster refuses to grant a Section 30 to Holyrood Parliament then what options will the Scottish Government have?
They may have some further leverage and legitimacy if the SNP win a majority in 2021, but until then I simply can't see Boris and Cummings allowing a risky distraction (in their eyes) like another referendum.
DUP to Win Most Seats if Stormont Election Held
We should know relatively early in the New Year if there will indeed be a 2020 Stormont Election. If an election does come to pass I expect the DUP to win the Most Seats, though they will return with a reduced number of MLAs. This will partly be down to the large number of vulnerable Sinn Fein MLAs who scraped in on the last seat in the 2017 Assembly Election.
Benjamin Netanyahu Resigns or is Forced Out as Likud Leader
My final prediction for 2020 is that Benjamin Netanyahu resigns or is forced out as Likud leader and steps away from frontline Israeli politics. Between corruption cases, a third General Election in a year and internal party challengers, surely his time at the top will come to an end in 2020.