Such was the doom and gloom associated with 2020, that when 2021 dawned only a few short days ago many would have had you believe we were going to be magically transported to a new world where people were free to roam and do as they pleased. However, the more things change the more they stay the same, as many countries across Europe are once again in the grip of a further wave of the global pandemic. While the societal impacts are obvious for all to see, the lasting political impacts are not as obvious.
🇬🇧 UK - National Affairs
With a last-ditch Brexit deal secured at the eleventh-hour before Christmas, I’m sure Boris Johnson was looking forward to a few weeks where he could catch his breath and take stock. That is not a luxury afforded to any world leader in the current climate and the UK Prime Minster is most definitely no different. While things are looking up for his YouGov Approval Rating in January, ‘36% or Higher’ at 8/13 (62% chances) with Paddy Power, it must be remembered you’re starting at a very low base. One so low that the same firm only make it 7/4 (36%) he’s replaced as Prime Minister in 2021. There are also prices available about who's becoming PM before the end of the year, with Rishi Sunak at 8/1 (11%) and Michael Gove at 16/1 (6%). However, this Political Joe would prefer to speculate at 14/1 (7%) with Betfair that there would be a 2021 General Election rather than get into the specifics of trying to name a successor.
For any of the above to happen it would pretty much require mutiny on the proverbial Conservative bounty! Step forward the Next Cabinet Minister to Leave market. Current Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson heads the betting where nobody really wants to be favourite at 3/1 (25%) with Paddy Power. Another high-profile name in the mix is the much-maligned Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel; things are looking far from pretty over when she is as short as 8/1 (11%). Two other names worth an honorary mention not too far from the front of the market are Matt Hancock (Health) at 12/1 (8%) and the Prime Minister himself at a similar price.
🗳️ UK - Local Elections
One UK election that will most definitely take place this year is the London Mayoral Election which appears to have a pretty limited field of contenders. At 1/6 (85%) with William Hill it looks unlikely incumbent Labour Sadiq Khan will be troubled by either independent Brian Rose, at 7/1 (13%), or Conservative Shaun Bailey, as short as 17/1 (6%) with Betfair.
🇩🇪 German Election
Looking further afield within Europe, much focus will be on Germany where citizens will head to the polls in 6 of the countries' 16 states. By far the most important vote will take place in September, the federal election, when the era of Angela Merkel is set to comes to a close. After 16 years and four terms in Government many believe it is time, and the race to replace her is heating up despite the Covid challenges. CSU’s Markus Soder is the favourite in both opinion polls and the betting, where he is at 13/8 (38%) with Betfair. Also prevalent in the market is longstanding Merkel critic Friedrich Merz at 3/1 (25%). There will be many twists and turns in the road before September so watch this space along with the earlier votes, which could offer a window into possible September voting tendencies.
🇪🇺 EU Exits
Having just about waded our collective way through Brexit a quick mention in closing for the Next Country to leave the European Union market with Paddy Power & Betfair. While not something this Political Joe could see happening for some time to come (if at all), the one thing that the global pandemic has reinforced is that countries are sometimes forced to make their own decisions no matter what the union! The illustrious honour of favouritism sits with economically challenged Italy at 3/1 (25%), closely followed by Greece at 6/1 (14%). First of what people might consider the European superpowers sees France at 8/1 (11%). Despite all the challenges of a shared land border with the UK, and seeing their near neighbours bid adieu, the Irish at a long shot at 25/1 (4%) to follow.
2020 was year dominated by US Politics that has somewhat, hopefully only briefly, spilled over into 2021. While this Political Joe hopes there will be plenty of political surprises in this coming 12 months, preference would be they might be ballot box driven rather than take any other guise.