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2024 is the ‘Voldemort’ of election years, says Ian Bremmer
2024 is the ‘Voldemort’ of election years, says Ian Bremmer | Global Stage

2024 is the ‘Voldemort’ of election years, says Ian Bremmer

Critical elections are occurring across the globe this year, with a record number of people — roughly half the global population — set to head to the polls in dozens of countries.

During a Global Stage panel at the Munich Security Conference, Eurasia Group Founder and President Ian Bremmer described 2024 as the “Voldemort of election years.”

“Voldemort is the name that should not be spoken in the ‘Harry Potter’ series … This is the year that people have been very concerned about but have kind of hoped that they could push off,” says Bremmer. This is not just because there are so many elections occurring amid historic levels of distrust in key institutions, but also because the United States — the most powerful country in the world — is also “one of the most politically dysfunctional,” he explains.

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Tom Suozzi speaks at an election rally in Floral Park.

SOPA Images

Why New York’s special election is getting special attention

Long Islanders are heading to the polls on Tuesday to replace disgraced Republican Rep. George Santos.

The special election between Republican Mazi Pilip and Democrat Tom Suozzi is a test run for upcoming state and national elections. Both parties want to show they can win on issues like immigration and abortion in the battleground district.

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Paramilitary soldiers stand guard along a road, ahead of the general elections in Karachi, Pakistan February 7, 2024.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Pakistanis vote but don’t decide who’s in charge

On Thursday, Pakistan is holding what should be one of the largest elections this year – but with the country’s most popular leader locked up, the military tilting the scales, and over two dozen killed this week in terrorist bombings, can it be called “democracy?”

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Senegal’s democracy at risk as president calls off election

On Saturday, President Macky Sall called off the election for his replacement without naming a new date, which means he will remain in power extralegally, thrusting the former rock of West African stability into crisis. On Monday, Sall called a special session of Parliament to consider a bill endorsing his decision and allowing a delay of up to six months.

What happened? Karim Wade, son of Sall’s predecessor and a political rival, was running for president but a constitutional court blocked his candidacy last month, alleging he held dual French and Senegalese citizenship. Wade claims he had renounced his French citizenship, and his party launched an investigation into two of the court’s justices last week. Then, in a masterstroke of political judo, Sall backed the investigation – and used it as the excuse to call off the elections.

Will Sall get away with it? The opposition parties rejected the cancellation, and police used tear gas on scattered groups of protesters in Dakar on Sunday, but the mass of civil society did not take to the streets. If elections do go forward – there’s no guarantee – the constitution requires 80 days' notice, and who knows how long the inquiry will take.

On the international stage, the Economic Community of West African States expressed concern but did not condemn the cancellation. ECOWAS has struggled to maintain democratic unity, with military juntas seizing control of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years, all of which announced their withdrawal last week.

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

Who’s skipping Davos – and watching the polls?

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.

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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to supporters after filing the paperwork to put his name on the ballot for the primary election in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., October 23, 2023.

Annie Gugliotta

Young, Angry, and Trumpy

Happy Top Risk Thursday, where we and our partner company Eurasia Group dive into the much-anticipated forecast of the biggest threats we all face this year. You can download the full report here and let us know if you agree or not (or if you now need a drink).

But let’s start with the Top Risk of the year, the US vs. itself. There was a small skirmish last night in the B-league, silver-medal debate between Republican candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis on CNN that was high on personal insult and low on political consequence. Meanwhile on Fox … he was back for Season 2! Donald Trump held a live town hall, ignoring the other candidates who stand little chance against him. It is Trump’s show now, and Fox is back on board. Here we go!

The Iowa caucus on Jan. 15 formally lights the election fuse on what could be the US electoral version of the film “Oppenheimer.” Bidenheimer? Trumpenheimer? Pick your potential destroyer of worlds, as per your partisan pallor. The rest of the globe is watching because what happens in the US impacts everything from trade to conflicts.

The US is at its most divisive point in generations, but the real story might be, well, generational.

GZERO Media has exclusive access to new polling from Abacus Data, which asked Canadians about the 2024 US presidential election, and the results are telling. Who wants Donald Trump to win? Apparently, young people do.

Overall, 34% of Canadians want Trump to win, and 66% want Biden, which is not a shocker. Neither is the party line breakdown. Preferences for Trump vs. Biden by political choice in Canada are as follows:

Conservatives: Trump 57%, Biden 43%
Liberals: Biden 86%, Trump 14%
New Democrats: Biden 83%, Trump 17%

But check out the breakdown by age: Canadians under 45 are much more likely to prefer Trump to Biden than those over the age of 45. Here’s how it breaks down:

Ages 18-29: 40% want Trump
Ages 30-44: 41% want Trump
45-59: 34% want Trump
60+: Only 23% want Trump

More than any other demographic, young people really want Trump to win. "The strength of Trump in Canada, especially among younger Canadians, reflects a shift in voting behavior and preferences among younger people as they react to a world they feel is deeply broken,” David Coletto, president of Abacus Data, told me (see his Substack here). “In Canada, 49% of men under 45 would prefer to see Trump win the presidency. But even one in three younger women would prefer Trump.”

By the way, this also reflects polling done in the US. A new Gallup survey shows that 42% of Americans between ages 18 and 34 are Trump supporters, and 44% of those aged 35-54 also favor the former president. Biden is losing support among young people and, interestingly, with people of color.

This upends all sorts of assumptions about how younger people vote and how Biden’s economic and social record is not resonating. In the Age vs Rage election, Rage is winning so far, and it’s starting to steal the younger demographic. It also likely reflects where younger people get their information, like TikTok, which recycles a lot of pissed-off voices shouting about why everything sucks (despite many facts to the contrary) and turns it into news.

What does this mean for elections outside of the United States? The conventional wisdom is that Trump might hurt the chances of other conservative or right-wing parties and boost the Left’s prospects, but that might not be the case. “For politicians in Canada who think they will be able to use the US election to their own political advantage – like the Liberals – these results suggest that may not be possible,” Coletto says.

This is consequential. We’ve seen the same story in polling around Israel and Hamas, where older people support Israel’s fight against Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist group by both the US and Canadian governments. But many younger people feel very differently about the situation, and their support for the Hamas-led fight in Gaza is revealing. It’s not a stretch to forecast that political support for Israel from places like Canada and the US, as the next generation comes to power, might look different than it does today. “The shift in youth preferences may become the story of 2024 with big political implications in the US and in Canada,” Coletto says.

It is still very early in the US election cycle, but the biggest surprise so far? Trump connects with the kids. Everywhere.

________

As I finished writing my column today, news broke that former federal New Democrat leader Ed Broadbent has died at age 87. Broadbent was the very definition of a true public servant and embodied the best of what people expect from political leaders. He transformed and modernized the NDP from the left-wing political conscience of Parliament to a viable power player in government.

Broadbent, as my colleague Graeme Thompson, a senior analyst with Eurasia Group's Global Macro-Geopolitics practice, put it, “distinguished himself as a political thinker, a champion of working-class Canadians, and a politician who earned the respect of his peers across the House of Commons and of people throughout Canada."

- Evan Solomon, Publisher


Turkish citizens voted in historic presidential and parliamentary elections in Diyarbakir, Turkey

Diego Cupolo/NurPhoto

The 10 biggest elections in 2024

Buckle up for the most intense year of democracy the world has ever seen.

With at least 65 countries holding elections, 4.2 billion people – about half of the world's adult population – will have the chance to vote in 2024. To say that the world could shift on its axis this year would be an understatement.

We are going to break down the 10 most consequential elections in 2024, but first, let’s zoom out and look at the connections coursing through elections around the world.

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Luisa Vieira

Canadian Liberals cry “Trump”… at their peril

Less than a year out from the US presidential election, concerns about Donald Trump’s potential return to the White House now include warnings of a possible slip into dictatorship. Last weekend, in the Washington Post, Robert Kagan wrote of a “clear path to dictatorship in the United States,” one that is “getting shorter every day.” Liz Cheney, a former Republican member of Congress and potential 2024 third-party presidential contender, echoed the concern, warning that the country is “sleepwalking into dictatorship.”

Meanwhile, north of the border, a desperate Liberal Party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, way down in the polls, are doing their best to paint their main rival, Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre, as a MAGA North incarnation of Trump, with everything that implies. As Politico reports, Trump’s influence over Canadian politics is significant, a potential “wild card” for Trudeau and a force that will shape the country’s next election, which is due by the fall of 2025 – but could come sooner.

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