CORONAVIRUS – In December 2019, citizens of Wuhan, China were diagnosed with an illness which later became known worldwide as coronavirus or COVID-19. The virus quickly spread to other countries, leading many governments to take drastic measures to prevent the disease from spreading even further. On March 11th, the World Health Organisation officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
BELGIAN GOVT FORMATION – The Belgian election of May 26th, 2019 still has not resulted in the formation of a federal government. On October 27th, a caretaker government, led by Belgium’s first female Prime Minister (Sophie Wilmès), was sworn in. Its job is to govern the country until the various parties manage to form a definitive government. Some say it is urgent that they do so as soon as possible, because Belgium’s budget deficit is spiralling out of control.
BREXIT – The United Kingdom exited the European Union on January 31st, 2020. The withdrawal brought an end to the saga which started in 2016, when British citizens got the chance to determine the faith of their country’s EU membership. They voted to leave, but it proved to be a difficult task to get the House of Commons to approve a withdrawal agreement. After many attempts to get such an agreement adopted by the House, Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister on July 24th, 2019. Her successor (Boris Johnson), after having obtained an overwhelming majority in the general election which took place in December, ultimately managed to convert Brexit into reality.
IMPEACHMENT – US President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on December 18th, 2019. The impeachment came after Trump decided to withhold military aid to Ukraine without offering an explanation. During a subsequent phone call with the President of Ukraine, Trump requested an investigation of Joe Biden, who had already begun seeking the Democratic nomination for President by the time of the call, and his son. Many believed that Trump had promised to give Ukraine the withheld aid in exchange for the investigation and that Trump should therefore be removed from office.
PRIMARIES AND CAUCUSES – The presidential nomination process of the Democratic Party began on February 3rd, 2020 in Iowa. The first contest was characterised by widespread irregularities but ultimately resulted in two winners: Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. The latter later dropped out of the race because of a dismal performance in South Carolina, along with other underperforming candidates. After Super Tuesday, only two candidates proved to be strong contenders: Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg and Senator Elizabeth Warren dropped out after this series of contests because it became clear that there wasn’t a plausible path to the nomination for them.
ISRAELI ELECTIONS – A general election took place in Israel on March 2nd, 2020. It was Israel’s third election in a year and was called because the parties in the Knesset were unable to form a majority coalition. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud received 36 seats and became the largest party. It however remains to be seen if Netanyahu will be able to form a government. Benny Gantz, leader of the second largest party in the Knesset and Netanyahu’s biggest rival, seems to enjoy more support in parliament and might be able to finally break Israel’s political deadlock.
COALITION TALKS IN BRABANT – Three parties (CDA, VVD and FVD) have been actively trying to form a new provincial government in North Brabant. The talks started after the Christian Democrats had left the old coalition over a disagreement about how to handle the so-called ‘nitrogen crisis’ (stikstofcrisis) in Brabant. The negotiations have attracted national media attention because a lot of Christian Democrats have been quite vocal about not wanting their party to form a government with the FVD, which some view as far-right.
ANGER IN MEXICO – In March, large groups of women took to the streets in Mexico to protest. Statistics, which show that the killings of women are on the rise in the country, sparked the outrage. Despite the anger, President Lopez Obrador indicated that he was not planning on changing the way in which his government deals with these so-called ‘femicides’.