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Forecast: Armenian protests spark fears of mass unrest, Russia holds Victory Day parade, and leaked Supreme Court decision prompts outrage

Dozens of people stand in a street all facing towards the same speaker. Mostly in dark warm clothes the central person has a small child in a teal jacket. The child is on the shoulders of that individual and waving flags of Poland, the United States and Ukraine.

Welcome to Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories from the editors at Factal. We publish our forward-looking note each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. If you like what you see, you can subscribe for free and get the Forecast in your inbox.

With thousands of Armenians rallying in capital Yerevan and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s national security service is warning of a threat of mass unrest. In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editor Jimmy Lovaas and Editor Imana Gunawan discuss how possible concessions to Azerbaijan over the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region are fueling opposition calls for civil disobedience.

Listen now or download on your favorite platform. 

Week of May 6-13
A Look Ahead

May 5

Jill Biden travels to Romania and Slovakia

U.S. first lady Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Slovakia on Thursday to meet with Ukrainian refugees forced to flee their country following the Russian invasion.

What’s happened so far 

Biden will depart Washington on Thursday and will first visit U.S. military personnel at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base on Friday. She will then visit Bucharest and Bratislava in Slovakia over the weekend, where she will meet Ukrainian refugees and volunteers, as well as government officials of both countries. This will be Biden’s second solo foreign trip since her husband took office.

The impact 

The first lady’s trip is expected to be closely watched after she worked with her Polish counterpart to deliver medical aid to Ukraine at the start of the Russian invasion. After President Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine, during which he made a speech that many believed suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin should be removed from office, U.S. officials may hope his wife’s visit will prove to be less controversial.

May 7

Macron inauguration

French President Emmanuel Macron will be inaugurated for the second time Saturday after his re-election last month. 

What’s happened so far 

Macron won a second five-year term as France’s president in April against rising far-right, populist leader Marine Le Pen. Macron’s lead was comfortable, winning with 58.5 percent of the vote against Le Pen’s 41.5 percent. Le Pen’s electoral showing, however, was her best ever, much closer than when she last faced Macron in 2017. 

The impact

Undeterred by defeat, Le Pen and far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon have launched unlikely attempts to win parliamentary majorities in next month’s National Assembly elections. Macron also faces challenges from an ongoing cost-of-living crisis in France, along with problems with pension reform, the national health system and climate change.

May 8

Israel’s Knesset convenes

Israel’s 120-member legislature will meet Sunday for the first time since Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government lost its coalition majority, boosting Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing opposition effort to regain power.

What’s happened so far 

Bennett’s government, made up of a wide spectrum of politicians who achieved their lone-shared goal of ending Netanyahu’s 11-year rule last June, is struggling to keep its members on board due to divergent policy views. It now has just 60 seats after the resignation of coalition chairwoman Idit Silman and the decision by Ra’am, an Islamist party, to suspend its membership in protest of Israeli police violence against Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque over Ramadan.

The impact 

Without a majority, the government will be unable to pass legislation. It also faces an increased risk of collapse if Netanyahu’s bloc is able to pull together enough support for a no-confidence vote, though chances of that remain slim in the near future. Bennett’s coalition — which includes prominent figures with their own political ambitions, such as Defense Minister Benny Gantz — has reportedly ordered all its members to attend the first three weeks of the legislative session, as the group fights to stay alive and avoid deadlock that may force weary voters into the fifth election in three years.

May 9

Russia Victory Day parade 

Moscow’s annual military parade through the Red Square to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany is set to take place Monday.

What’s happened so far 

The massive military parade to commemorate the allied victory in World War II — or the Great Patriotic War as Russia calls it — will take place this year under the backdrop of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Moscow used the parade back in 2014 as a chance to flex the country’s strength and patriotism following the annexation of Crimea. This year, however, it appears as though the parade will be muted in size in the wake of the severe difficulties and losses Russia has faced in Ukraine.

The impact 

Despite speculation that Russia would prioritize victory in the Battle of the Donbas at all cost prior to the May 9 parade, Russian officials have made clear they would not let the parade impact military timelines in the war. All signs on the ground corroborate this, with Russian progress in the Donbas tepid and an increased aversion to casualties observable. Still, the parade will provide another glimpse into how far Russia has continued to descend back into a fully authoritarian state. 

May 9

Philippine elections

Decades after Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted from office, his son is poised to claim victory Sunday as president in the country’s elections as incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte’s six years in power come to an end.

What’s happened so far 

An interesting list of candidates has emerged for the presidency and vice presidency, among them: frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is the son and namesake of the country’s former dictator. President Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte is Marcos’ running mate. Marcos has maintained a wide lead in polls over his closest rival and current Vice President Leni Robredo, but observers say she might still have a shot as her “pink revolution” campaign has attracted large crowds across the country. World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso are both polling within single digits.

The impact 

Among the thousands of elected offices up for grabs, voters will choose the politicians who make up the Senate, House of Representatives and the country’s regional governors, shaping the political direction of the country for the coming years. China and the United States will both look to court whoever wins, especially on the subject of disputed islands in the South China Sea. On top of geopolitical issues, if Marcos wins, he would have the power to appoint the head of the agency seeking to reclaim the billions of dollars his father stole from the country.

May 10

Sudan national dialogue

Sudan will host a three-day national dialogue forum starting Tuesday with delegations from the African Union, the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

What’s happened so far 

Sudan has faced a political crisis since the general commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, declared a state of emergency and dissolved the government in October 2021. Since then, there have been mass anti-government protests both in capital Khartoum and elsewhere in the country, with the Sudan’s Doctors Committee documenting dozens of killings and hundreds of injuries as the military often deploys live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse demonstrations.

The impact

The upcoming dialogue is aimed at resolving the country’s current political crisis through the formation of a civilian-led government and a transitional legislative assembly, as well as by holding “proper and credible elections by the end of the transitional period,” the AU’s mediator said, which is scheduled to end in February 2023.

May 12

U.S. holds coronavirus summit

The United States will hold its second virtual global coronavirus summit Thursday.

What’s happened so far 

The meeting, announced in April by the White House, will be co-chaired by current G7 president Germany, G20 president Indonesia, African Union chair Senegal and CARICOM chair Belize. Participants are expected to address several coronavirus-related challenges, including vaccination, testing and treatment, strengthening health services and pandemic preparedness.

The impact

Discussions are expected to be centered around ways to support locally-led solutions to manage emerging coronavirus variants and future health crises globally. Other world leaders, members of civil society, NGOs and the private sector have been called to participate in the conversation and to help achieve the goals that will be discussed during the summit through financial contributions and policymaking. The White House has set a goal to reach $10 billion in new funding to help reach 70 percent vaccination worldwide.

What Else Matters

Several protesters in New York city's Foley Square. The one in the center holds a sign "My Body My Choice!" To their right is another protester with a sign "Hands Off Her Uterus!"
Protesters gathered in New York City’s Foley Square on May 3 as part of a nationwide call to rally in support of abortion rights, a day after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicated the court plans to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe V. Wade decision. (Photo: William Alatriste / NYC Council Media Unit)

SCOTUS draft overruling Roe v. Wade

On May 2, in an unprecedented breach of the U.S. Supreme Court privacy and protocol, Politico published a leaked draft opinion written by Supreme Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court plans to overturn the 1973 abortion rights landmark Roe v. Wade case. This decision would reportedly coincide with the court’s ruling on Mississippi’s attempt to ban abortions past 15 weeks. The document goes into detail on the judges deliberations, stating that the constitution is silent on abortions, and therefore abortion rights are a state matter. The draft, which is signed by four of the other Republican-appointed judges, would allow states to choose whether to uphold abortion rights or scrap them completely. A total of 26 states are likely ban it in some form, with four states likely to ban it outright. 

Watch for: While this is a leaked draft, and judges deliberations in such a controversial case could and sometimes do change, it still remains a watershed moment in dictating the United States’ deeply divided state of political and social affairs. A day after the leak, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft, though he cautioned it does not represent the final decision. It remains to be seen, however, if any of the court’s five conservative justices will be swayed to change their votes. Not only will Democratic Senate members and representatives rail against the possible decision, but more protests across the country are likely. Midterm elections, with primaries expected throughout the next few months, will undoubtedly be affected by the leak, and political rhetoric may focus more on the decision itself this summer. 

Anti-government protests in Armenia

Scores of demonstrators have reignited protests in the Armenian capital of Yerevan to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as the country moves closer to reaching a peace agreement with neighboring Azerbaijan over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. During the fall 2020 six-week war over the territory, Azerbaijan was able to take control over large areas that had previously been under Armenian control since the early 1990s. Pashinyan has faced backlash in Armenia ever since the two countries signed a Russia-brokered truce in November 2020, with critics opposing the government’s apparent willingness to compromise Armenian sovereignty in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Watch for: Anti-government protesters, including opposition lawmakers, have held daily rallies across Armenia since mid-April and are expected to continue doing so despite the arrest of hundreds of people. During a May 2 rally in Yerevan, parliament vice speaker and opposition leader Ishkhan Sagatelian announced the beginning of a “large-scale” campaign of civil disobedience and called on people to strike and block traffic in central Yerevan.

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

A calendar of events from May 5 to June 4

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