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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wields the gavel as she presides over the first impeachment of President Donald Trump.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

What We’re Watching: Pelosi’s farewell, #RIPTwitter, Malaysian vote, Iranian rage, UK austerity

Pelosi takes a final bow

Nancy Pelosi is standing down as leader of the Democratic Party in the US House, but she’ll remain in Congress as a representative of San Francisco. She was both the first woman to serve in the ultra-powerful role of House Speaker and a hate figure for many on the right. Pelosi’s personal toughness, Herculean fundraising prowess, and ability to hold together the typically fractious Democratic Party in the House will remain her legacy for Democrats. For Republicans, seeing her pass the gavel to one of their own in January will mark a moment of triumph in an otherwise disappointing midterm performance. In announcing her plans, Pelosi noted that “the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.” At a moment when both parties are led by politicians of advancing age, that’s a big step – and a trend we’ll be watching closely as a new Congress takes shape and the next race for the White House begins. Eurasia Group US Managing Director Jon Lieber says his bet is on 52-year-old Hakeem Jeffries taking the Democratic reins. If Jeffries gets the job, he'll make history as the first Black politician to lead a party in Congress.

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Annie Gugliotta

Can the nuclear deal with Iran still be salvaged?

US President Joe Biden entered office pledging to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, provided Iran did the same. His predecessor Donald Trump walked away in 2018 from the deal, which placed limits on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. But Biden's goal of resurrecting it now seems to be slipping out of reach. We spoke with Henry Rome, a director at Eurasia Group focusing on Iran, about what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

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Supporters of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi hold posters of him during an election rally in Tehran.

Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Who will change Iran?

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a campaign rally in Tehran.

Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

This man will be Iran’s next president. Who is he?

Iranians will go to the polls on Friday to vote for president. While surprises are possible, it's very likely that Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi will win, succeeding current President Hassan Rouhani, who is stepping down because of term limits.

Raisi is a true hardliner, and while Iranian presidents have a constrained role, he will leave an important mark on both foreign and domestic policy. Eurasia Group senior analyst Henry Rome explains who Raisi is, how he became the frontrunner, and what his election would mean for Iran.

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Will these world leaders keep their resolutions?

Let's be honest, who knows if 2021 will really be a better year than 2020.

On the one hand, you might say, "how could next year possibly be worse than this one?" On the other, 2020 has taught us that things can always — always — get worse.

But either way, YOU can always be a better YOU, and world leaders are, in principle, no different. Here's a look at the pledges that several world leaders are already making for the new year.

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The US swing states world leaders are (really) watching

As American political news junkies get ready for what is expected to be a very long US election night, around the world a select group of world leaders will also be refreshing the FiveThirtyEight homepage with their own interests in mind, scrutinizing incoming results from the electoral college battleground states that will determine whether President Donald Trump is reelected or Joe Biden wins the White House. Let's put you in their shoes.

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You Can Call Me Al...i Khamenei | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

You can call me Al...i Khamenei

Joe Biden gets a call from an unexpected supporter -- the Supreme Leader of Iran?

Iran hates 2020 more than you do

For Iran, 2020 opened with two loud bangs. On January 2, a US airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump killed General Qassem Soleimani, leader of an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and, some say, the second most powerful man in Iran. Fearing a broader US attack, Iran's air defenses went on high alert, and someone with an itchy trigger finger accidently brought down a commercial airliner near Tehran's airport, killing all 176 people on board, most of them Iranian nationals.

Then COVID hit. In February, Iran became the world's first COVID hotspot outside China. The unwillingness of Iran's leaders to admit they had a problem and take aggressive action to contain the virus made matters worse. A second wave of the virus began in June, and a third wave may now be under way. State officials say that some 21,000 Iranians have died. The true number is probably much higher. In August, state television admitted that COVID kills one person every seven minutes in Iran.

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