Friday, 9 October 2015

2016 - some momentous elections coming up

Book-ending the year will be the two presidential elections which will dominate the English media: FIFA's special congress on 26th February to designate a successor to Sepp Blatter and on 8th November a little affair across the pond.

Most dominant here of course will be the Welsh general election. Such is the overwhelming influence of the London media that Welsh Labour is bound to suffer from the attacks on the national party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. This barrage is sure to be mounted in connection with the elections in London on 5th May, the same day as the Welsh and Scottish generals. Welsh Liberal Democrats will go into the election with genuine hopes of making gains. We will be without the handicaps of being in coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster and having a national leader who was probably more reviled in Wales than in any other nation in the kingdom, handicaps which dented our chances in 2011. We will go into the election with a popular federal leader in Tim Farron and an increasingly respected national leader in Kirsty Williams. Their only problem will be achieving media exposure - but this is a difficulty facing the Conservative and Labour leaders also. More to the point, we have already seized the high ground on two policy areas which are dominant public concerns: health and housing*.

Some time during the year there will be a referendum on the UK's position in Europe. The big money is piling into the "leave" campaigns - another one was launched yesterday - and those of us who want to stay in will struggle to make our voices heard.

But after those, I will also have an eye on local and regional elections in South Africa, which will be seen as a judgment on the scandal-ridden national ANC administration. The Liberal Democratic Alliance looks to make further progress in areas where it is already strong. The latest changes to the DA's shadow cabinet may well extend its appeal beyond its heartland.

* The party has also formulated detailed proposals for the future of Welsh taxes in a paper which I am about to tackle in advance of our AGM and conference in Swansea next month. 

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