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Who’s skipping Davos – and watching the polls?

The logo of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is displayed on a window, during the 54th annual meeting of the WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2024.

The logo of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is displayed on a window, during the 54th annual meeting of the WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2024.

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

While Donald Trump was winning in Iowa and preparing for New Hampshire, economic and political elites were in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum … where they were worrying about a potential Trump 2.0.


As jets descended on Davos, there was plenty of chatter about who was and wasn’t in attendance. Five years ago, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a keynote at the confab. This year, he sat out along with most of his front bench. After chatter about the scarce Canadian contingent, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was added to the agenda, perhaps to make it seem like the Liberals weren’t working overtime to avoid hobnobbing with the jet set while Canadians struggle with affordability, housing, and healthcare crises. After all, his party is way behind in the polls, and Trudeau is taking flak – and facing a possible ethics investigation – over his winter vacation in Jamaica.

President Joe Biden also skipped Davos. His approval rating is…not great, hitting a new low this week. Like Trudeau, he may be inclined to stay close to home and focus on domestic issues as Americans face their own affordability crisis.

As worries about the large contingent from China working overtime at Davos for foreign investment circulate around Washington, Biden sent the soon-to-retire John Kerry and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose plane conked out before his trip back, to make the rounds and discuss climate change and the war in Gaza.

The American and Canadian Davos lineups remind us that foreign politics is often domestic politics abroad. Both Biden and Trudeau are in tough reelection races, with Biden likely to face Trump in November, and Trudeau set for a matchup with Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre by October 2025. And neither man will find votes in Davos.

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