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Fresh elections in the UK: Holiday gift or lump of coal?

Fresh elections in the UK: Holiday gift or lump of coal?

In a breakthrough that will give the British people one more chance to weigh in on the tortured question of Brexit, the UK Parliament – after a series of baroque machinations – agreed late yesterday to hold a general election on December 12.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pushed for this vote (four times now!) because he's gambling that his Conservative Party can win the majority he needs to push through his Brexit deal before the newly-extended deadline to leave the EU hits on January 31. Although his party leads in the polls (some even show the Conservatives up by double digits), there is no shortage of risks for him—the polls could just be wrong (as they were when his predecessor Theresa May tried to cushion her own parliamentary majority by calling a snap election in 2017, only to actually lose seats), or voters could hold Johnson, and his entire Conservative party by extension, responsible for the endless anguish of Brexit. Some Britons will even treat this as a de facto second Brexit referendum instead of a national election since there are no guarantees they will have another chance to make their voices heard.


That's exactly what certain parties are counting on. The Liberal Democrats, for their part, will campaign for votes among those who favor remaining in the EU, as will the Scottish National Party, while the upstart far-right Brexit Party will try to poach Brexit supporters who think Johnson hasn't been hardline enough.

One of the big questions is how the opposition Labour Party will fare. Labour, which held out until the last moment on supporting a fresh election, is badly divided over whether to leave the EU or not. They will campaign on renegotiating the Brexit agreement and then putting their new deal to a vote to the British people. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a better campaigner than he is an opposition leader, but asking Brexit-fatigued folks to extend the political chaos so Labour can have a turn negotiating with Brussels is a tough message to win an election on.

What's certain is that this will be the most bitter and tumultuous British election campaign in recent memory. What is not as certain is whether it will in fact yield a clear majority for any of these parties. If not, the hell of Brexit will roll right through snowball season…

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

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Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

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In the fall of 2019, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world, Ian Bremmer asked Dr. Fauci what kept him up at night and he described a "a pandemic-like respiratory infection." Fast-forward to late February 2021 and Dr. Fauci tells Ian, "I think we are living through much of that worst nightmare." Dr. Fauci returns to GZERO World to take stock of the nightmare year and to paint a picture of what the end of the pandemic could look like—and when it could finally arrive.

Catch the full episode of GZERO World, where Dr. Fauci discusses the latest in vaccine roll out, schools re-openings, and plenty more, on US public television stations nationwide, beginning Friday, February 26. Check local listings.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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