Will 2012 be the year of real change?

Graham Murray

This year has sparked global revolution, but will 2012 follow suit to ensure real change? 2012, on top of the Olympics, the Queen’s diamond jubilee and predictions of an apocalypse by the Mayans amongst other things, is set to be a year of important global elections that will decide the way in which the world’s superpowers are governed.

The most important of all the elections taking place in 2012 is undoubtedly the US election, in which Obama will take on a Republican challenger to earn himself a second term in office. However, the French Election is also significant, as according to the polls, Sarkozy is going to be defeated the election significantly. The Russian election is set to put Vladimir Putin back into power. London’s mayoral elections are going to be a test to the incumbent Conservative government and Boris Johnson. London itself will be swamped with tourists and athletes as it hosts the prestigious Olympic Games.

In addition, the Eurozone is going to be tested more this year than any year before it, as the crisis likely reaches its climax. The aftermath of the Eurozone crisis is likely to have an effect for years to come. The “PIGS”- Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, all countries who had been running deficits and have secured bailout packages are all set for slow economic recoveries. Greece, now governed by a temporary interim government, are due to hold elections early next year.

The Eurozone crisis and whether the new technocratic Italian government is able to tackle the debt is going to one of the main features of international politics in 2012. If the Eurozone were to collapse, the effects would be catastrophic. The rules of the EU must be properly followed in 2012 and beyond if; a crisis like this is to be avoided.

The US election campaign is already in full stride, with several Republicans putting their names forward to challenge Obama. The significance of this election is whether America is going to continue on a more liberal path, or whether it will return to the conservatism of the Bush era. In addition to this, the fate of congress is also going to be significant. If the Democrats regain majorities in the House and Senate, it will give Obama the ability to be far more radical in his second term. The 2012 election will be the means of the Democrats achieving electoral hegemony for a time, after years of Republican hegemony.

Putin’s re-election is almost guaranteed in the upcoming Russian elections, given that United Russia has won every the end of the Soviet Union with impressive majorities, and that Putin’s approval ratings in Russia are very high. Putin has often been critical of US foreign policy and his return to the Russia presidency is unlikely to be well received internationally, however well received it will be domestically.

The impact of the French election is being understated, given that polls predict François Hollande will defeat Nicolas Sarkosy in a landslide. In Europe, elections in different countries frequently mimic one another. In the late 90’s, most European countries, UK included, elected social democratic parties, in the mid to late 2000’s right of centre parties became more dominant. If this trend continues, then the result of the French could start a new era of European social democratic party domination. On top of this, given the French’s important role in the EU, and their good credit rating, Hollande’s election is likely to have an effect on the entire Eurozone, and the EU.

Closer to home, the coalition will continue to be tested, especially regarding their economic plans and austerity measures, as what has been dubbed as the “winter of discontent” continues into early next year. For MMU, 2012 marks the year when the towering new Business School will be open as the students from the faculties of Accounting, Economics and Finance move closer to the All Saints Campus. A pivotal moment for students will take shape in the form of a hefty £9,000: the new tuition fee rate for 2012-13 undergraduates.

It is clear that politically, 2012 is set to be a pivotal year in history with global elections and the trebling of tuition fees taking place.

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