The 7 biggest political shifts of 2017

This past year has seen some major shifts in direction from the inauguration of Donald Trump to the triggering of Article 50.

1. The rise of Trump

Last November, Trump shocked the world – and possibly himself – by defeating Hillary Clinton to win the United States’ presidency. At the very start of 2017, his victory was made official when he was inaugurated, ending eight years of Democratic executive-rule. However, Trump’s ascension to the presidency is a much bigger shift than a mere change in party. Trump’s social media use, his recent move on recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his open feuds with Kim Jong-un mark a dramatic shift in direction for the US. American politics has been blown wide open.

2. Article 50

After months of limbo and political debate, the UK took the plunge and triggered Article 50. As each day goes by, the country gets one step closer to leaving the EU. The past week has been a turbulent one, but culminated in success on Friday, with the two sides agreeing to move on to the next stage following disagreements and agreements about Northern Ireland, as reported by the BBC.

Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said on Twitter:

“Another year of chaos & confusion [is] not acceptable.”

3. Turkey’s referendum

Turkey’s April referendum is probably not the first major political event from 2017 that springs to mind, but the constitutional vote marks a substantial shift in direction for the country. On Sunday 16th April, the majority of Turkey’s voters backed an AKP-supported motion to transform Turkey’s political system. The razor-thin majority ends the office of prime minister and gives the Turkey’s president substantial new powers, according to the BBC.

4. The French elections

In April, France’s party-system was transformed beyond recognition. Centrist Emmanuel Macron won the first round and went on to face the far-right’s Marine Le Pen two weeks later. In the first round, the Republicans and the Socialists were pushed into third and fifth place respectively. One month later, Macron’s En Marche! secured a stunning majority in parliament, compounding the major change.

The question is: can Macron’s momentum be sustained?

5. The (almost) end of Theresa May

In June, the UK held its second election in little over two years – its fourth nation-wide vote in four years – and to almost everyone’s surprise, Theresa May, who had been hoping to significantly increase her majority, faced the prospect, of being ousted from power. Instead of making progress, the party lost seats while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour made gains, as well as securing over 40% of the vote. The election marked a substantial shift in direction at a critical moment, as it forced Tories to rely on the DUP and saw a return to a two-party system.

6. Merkel clings on (for now)

In September, German post-war politics was blown-wide open in one of the most competitive elections of recent times. The FDP made a political comeback, the far-right AfD came from nowhere to win the third highest number of seats, and both coalition partners, Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance and Martin Schulz’ SPD, lost a significant number of seats. Following months of attempts for a “Jamaica” coalition to be formed between the CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens, talks collapsed, thus prompting the CDU/CSU and SPD to enter discussions about a possible renewal of their grand coalition – in some form or another.

If no agreement is reached, Germany can expect to go back to the polls in the new year.

7. The end of Robert Mugabe

After 37 long years in power, first as Zimbabwe’s prime minister then its president, Robert Mugabe stepped down aged 93. Following an expected resignation speech in which he did not resign, as well as threats of impeachment, the dictator stepped down at the end of November.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s former VP, took over the country’s top job.

Robert Mugabe

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