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Several upcoming elections and security concerns

Oct 27, 2022

Soon, November 1, there will be parliamentary elections in Israel and concerns in abundance are aired internationally as to what these elections and their result will do to peace and stability in Israel and the region. Similarly, soon there will be mid-term elections in the US, and concerns are rising not least in European capitals as to what the outcome of these elections, at the different levels of US politics, will imply as regards prospects for the US political system, transatlantic relations and, not least, the handling of the Ukraine-Russia war, with harsh winter approaching.

In Israel, opinion polls indicate the real possibility of a next government, probably led by a returning Benjamin Netanyahu, based on “some of the most radical elements ever to populate Israeli politics”, quoting leading analyst of the Israeli scene Ben Caspit. In the US, Republicans, still dominated by Donald Trump and his MAGA movement, seem poised to retake the majority in the House and even likely to tip the balance in the Senate, in GOP favor. And Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader hopeful, has warned there should be no blank check in US support for Ukraine, not any longer.

And, still in the Americas, Brazilian president elections, second round, are also imminent, with Jair Bolsonario fighting for his political life, alongside with that of Brazilian democracy.

This all, alongside uncertain struggles in countries like Iran and turbulence in countries like the UK and Italy (with elections still withstood by the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and successfully carried out, or won, by PM Giorgia Meloni and her rightist coalition), to pick a few, indicates a global geo-political situation characterized by power consolidation in the case of authoritarian leaders, notably Xi Jinping in economic crisis-troubled China after the recent party congress, Vladimir Putin in Russia and Recep Tayiip Erdogan in Turkey, and others, and a number of other states, claiming to be democracies, struggling with potentially destabilizing elections as a necessary prerequisite for essential legitimacy, with uncertain outcomes.

So it could well be that we will shortly find ourselves in a further complicated geo-political situation with a weakened Biden administration in the US after decisive GOP/Trump gains after the mid-terms, with Netanyahu back in the driver´s seat in Israel but now backed by and dependent on rightist radical emerging forces (while the Iranian struggle for legitimacy and stability continues unabated), with Bolsonario reestablished in Brazil and many more decisive – and potentially destabilizing -elections to come, in countries that still rely on elections as the basic ingredient for both legitimacy and stability.

Boris johnson, currently outmaneuvered from any Downing Street role, once warned against listening to “doomsters and gloomsters”. That was in the aftermath of the Brexit turbulence. But one need not be a doomster or gloomster to be seriously concerned at the overall geo-political scene taking into account all the threatening complexities that arise from current trends, on top of the dominant crisis in Ukraine and all the spin-offs from that, in terms of international finance, energy security, migration, climate and what not.

It follows from this that the West (the Western world of liberal democracy and rule of law) is now faced with two really, really demanding challenges. One concerns keeping “the West” united and up to the challenges, including current threats to the spirit of liberal democracy from both established autocracies and creeping authoritarianism in countries having to struggle with potentially destabilizing elections. The other concerns how to deal with the regional crises of the world, those in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) area, in Africa, in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere, in the context of weakened multilateralism and strengthened multipolarism, i.e., a Hobbesian world where life is/was “nasty, brutish and short”.

So the imminent elections, and those further down the alley, do matter, as indicators of what we are up against, not as doomsters and/or gloomsters but as realists.

Still, what matters most is Ukraine. The world will remain in grave doubt as long as this serious crisis defies any clever answer as two how this could possibly end, without Armageddon. Come winter, with all its anticipated hardships, we  do  have to buckle up. We “the West”.

Still, elections are important, and dangerous.

Michael Sahlin