With the unexpected election of Donald Trump by our neighbours down south, we as Canadians seem to have turned a blind eye to the affairs of the rest of the world. So the point of this article is to provide an overview of “What’s happening in the rest of the world?”
From July to November, several key events took place that have potential to shape the political landscape for months and perhaps years to come.
United Kingdom General Election
The Brits went to the polls on July 8th to determine the roster of their 650-member House of Commons, after Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election back in November of last year.
Now at the time of this announcement, the Conservative’s opposition -the Labour party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn- was trailing them in the polls by 21 points. This most likely motivated the P.M to call the snap election, as she felt confident in her party’s ability in getting a majority in the House.
After this announcement, however, several blunders ensued; the most prominent being the Conservative’s 88-page manifesto that they published just a month before the election. Let’s just say it rubbed the voting public the wrong way and in just a month, the Conservative’s lead against Labour dropped from 16 points to just 1.4 points.
The result was a “Hung parliament”, in which no party reaches the 326 seats needed for a majority.
Catalonia Declares Independence from Spain
Catalonia has been trying to separate from Spain since 2014 and on October 1, they decided to hold a vote. The votes that were counted found that 90% of the votes were in favour of independence, though the legitimacy of these results have been questioned.
That didn’t stop them though, as Catalonia’s parliament unilaterally declared independence from Spain on October 21. Spain understandably didn’t like this and hours after the announcement invoked Article 155 to assume direct control of Catalonia, removing president Carles Puigdemont from office.
Puigdemont stated he would not return or call a snap election until Spain gave him a fair trial and turned himself in to Belgian authorities. He was granted conditional release but is not allowed to leave the country until the court comes to a decision on whether to return him to Spain.
China’s Communist Party Reshuffle
The Communist Party of China met in the National Congress from October 18– October 24. 2,280 delegates made several key changes to China’s constitution and elected new members to their Politburo, who in turn chose the leaders of their Central Committee, which once again saw the ascension of Xi Jinping, the party’s General Secretary and head of state.
Xi has long been called the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong and this year’s meeting consolidated his power even further. The meeting also resulted in a new guiding policy being adapted into the country’s constitution, Xi Jinping Thought. They also stated that China should further their role on the international stage.
ISIL loses their Capital
On the 17th of October, the infamous jihadi terrorist group ISIL lost their de-facto capital Raqqa to Turkish rebel group SDP (Syrian Democratic Forces), with aid from the U.S, France and the U.K.
This liberation comes at a time when the Islamic State lost several other cities, prime among them being Mosul, a major city in Iraq about 400 km from the capital. They went on to lose both Deir ez-Zor and Al-Qa’im just 3 weeks later.
The Paradise Papers
On November 5th, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung released 13.4 million documents detailing offshore tax havens used by heads of state and multi-billion dollar companies to shelter their wealth.
Folks named in the papers include Queen Elizabeth II, U2 singer Bono, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, U.S Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and our own former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. It also mentions Prime Minister Trudeau’s close friend and Liberal fundraiser Stephen Bronfman.
North Korea continues being North Korea
So North Korea has ICBMs now. Ain’t that a kick in the head? Seems just like yesterday their missiles would disintegrate mid-flight. Now their weird and outlandish threats towards the U.S and the rest of the world have some sort of traction. The U.S territory of Guam seems to be in their reach and its neighbouring countries are starting to pay attention.
Feeling confident, they test-launched a missile over Japan, twice. It caused a bit of a scare, but the missile simply landed in the ocean. They’ve also made quite a few outlandish threats, ranging from calling President Trump an unstable “dotard”, threatening to sink Japan and saying the U.S should be beaten to death like a rabid dog.
So yeah, that’s still going on.
There you have it. All the biggest things to have gone down in the past few months. The year’s not quite over yet, so perhaps something even bigger is on its way.
By Nikita Ivachtchenko