Turbulent year in politics, NZ needs to tread carefully

EDITORIAL

The year drawing to a close in world politics will probably be remembered as one of the most unpredictable and troubling ones since the end of World War 2.

It was a year of two major surprises, the second of which few people saw coming.

The first was the Brexit poll in June, when 52 percent of the UK voters chose to begin the lengthy and complicated process of leaving the European Union. The decision has created huge uncertainty in the UK with many concerned as to what the final effects will be. An awful lot will depend on what agreements Theresa May and her government can obtain in negotiations with the remaining members.

Then in November came an even bigger surprise when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States. Even allowing for the inevitable group of people who are always wise after an event, this was a shock to the great majority. Trump’s behaviour during the campaign and some of the promises he made were startling, to put it mildly. Political analysts are going to spend years wrestling with this one but one early impression is that he was carried to victory by people who feel that globalisation has failed them.

That feeling was echoed to a degree in the Brexit vote and it is gathering momentum in Europe where it is often accompanied by anti-refugee and nationalist sentiment. Upcoming elections in France and Germany will be very interesting to say the least.

Elsewhere the Syrian tragedy rolled on with its horrendous death toll and despite last week’s UN resolution the Palestinian-Israeli conflict looks no closer to a solution.

The world also looks anxiously towards North Korea where a rogue state continues to develop nuclear weapons and there are increasing tensions with Russia and China.

As a small country at the bottom of the world New Zealand will have to tread diplomatically and avoid having to take sides as much as it reasonably can. If 2016 was turbulent, sadly all the indications at present are that 2017 will be no better.

The year drawing to a close in world politics will probably be remembered as one of the most unpredictable and troubling ones since the end of World War 2.

It was a year of two major surprises, the second of which few people saw coming.

The first was the Brexit poll in June, when 52 percent of the UK voters chose to begin the lengthy and complicated process of leaving the European Union. The decision has created huge uncertainty in the UK with many concerned as to what the final effects will be. An awful lot will depend on what agreements Theresa May and her government can obtain in negotiations with the remaining members.

Then in November came an even bigger surprise when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States. Even allowing for the inevitable group of people who are always wise after an event, this was a shock to the great majority. Trump’s behaviour during the campaign and some of the promises he made were startling, to put it mildly. Political analysts are going to spend years wrestling with this one but one early impression is that he was carried to victory by people who feel that globalisation has failed them.

That feeling was echoed to a degree in the Brexit vote and it is gathering momentum in Europe where it is often accompanied by anti-refugee and nationalist sentiment. Upcoming elections in France and Germany will be very interesting to say the least.

Elsewhere the Syrian tragedy rolled on with its horrendous death toll and despite last week’s UN resolution the Palestinian-Israeli conflict looks no closer to a solution.

The world also looks anxiously towards North Korea where a rogue state continues to develop nuclear weapons and there are increasing tensions with Russia and China.

As a small country at the bottom of the world New Zealand will have to tread diplomatically and avoid having to take sides as much as it reasonably can. If 2016 was turbulent, sadly all the indications at present are that 2017 will be no better.

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