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Forecast: UK under extreme heat warning, former Japanese PM Abe killed, and Sri Lankan parliament votes for new president

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in front of #10 Downing Street

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.

Japan was left reeling after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a political event last week. In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editor Jimmy Lovaas and Editor Vivian Wang discuss reports of the alleged shooter’s motive and how Abe’s death may impact Japan’s future.

Listen now or download on your favorite platform.

Week of July 15-22
A Look Ahead

July 15

Russian parliament to hold extraordinary meeting

The lower house of the Russian Duma will meet Friday in an extraordinary session.

What’s happened so far 
The Duma chairman announced the emergency meeting earlier this week, calling lawmakers back from summer vacation to discuss more than 60 different urgent measures. While the exact topics of consideration are unknown, it is reported they will involve competition and information policy.

The impact 
Coming just days after the Duma further moved Russia toward full war mobilization by allowing authorities to force companies to produce war goods, the emergency session has sparked fears of additional mobilization measures. Russia’s grinding war in Ukraine has led to such heavy losses among personnel that they have adopted every measure up to full mobilization to augment manpower. Making matters worse is Russia’s inability to meaningfully interdict western weapon shipments into Ukraine, such as the newly deployed U.S.-built rocket systems

July 15

Algeria to reopen land borders with Tunisia

On a visit to mark the 60th anniversary of Algerian independence, Tunisian President Kais Saied announced authorities will reopen the Tunisian-Algerian border on Friday.

What’s happened so far 
Authorities from Tunisia and Algeria held a bilateral meeting earlier this month to discuss reopening the border that was closed more than two years ago to combat the spread of coronavirus at the onset of the pandemic. The travel ban excluded the export and import of goods.

The impact 
Tunisia’s tourism sector has greatly suffered from the Algerian border closure, as more than 3 million Algerians used to travel into the neighboring country for holidays, particularly during the summer months. Tunisia’s interior minister expressed readiness to open all land border crossings with Algeria, saying Algerians “will find all facilities for their comfort in their second country.”

July 17

First TV debate with UK Conservative Party leadership candidates

British TV channels ITV and Sky News will host the first Conservative leadership debates starting Sunday as the party looks to replace Boris Johnson by Sept. 5.

What’s happened so far 
Johnson was forced to step down July 7 after several senior cabinet ministers resigned over his alleged mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against his former deputy chief whip. So far, a total of 11 Tory MPs have announced their candidacy, including former and current Chancellors Rishi Sunak and Nadhim Zahawi and former Health Minister Sajid Javid.

The impact 
It is not yet clear how many of the 11 candidates will participate in the debates, with the rules and timeframe of the programs unconfirmed. The number of hopefuls is also expected to fall by the first debate as MPs will be balloted ahead of Sunday to determine who secured the required number of nominations. Meanwhile, the government blocked the main opposition party Labour’s attempt to remove Johnson from office earlier than September through a no confidence vote.

July 17

Extreme heat warning in U.K.

England will be dealing with another wave of record-breaking temperatures starting Sunday.

What’s happened so far 
The Met Office issued a rare extreme heat warning for a large part of England and Wales this week. Meteorologists say that the country’s record-high temperature is at risk of being broken as soon as this weekend, possibly reaching 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for the first time in recorded history.

The impact 
High temperatures pose many risks for countries not used to them. The Met Office warned that effects of the heat will be felt population-wide and “substantial changes” will be required for daily life those two days. Experts warned travel delays are likely because it may be too hot for trains and planes to operate with some roads possibly melting.

July 19

Putin-Erdoğan-Raisi meeting in Iran

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will travel to Tehran Tuesday to meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

What’s happened so far 
Officially, the three leaders will discuss the conflict in Syria, where they all have troops on the ground. The United States claims the visit may advance a possible sale of Iranian drones to Russia for its war effort in Ukraine. Russia, Iran and Turkey have been competing for control in Syria amid a civil war that’s stretched for more than a decade, with the first two backing Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Turkey backing Islamists and some Kurdish groups in the north. Still, the three countries maintain warm relations due to the alignment of their political and economic interests in other parts of the region and confrontations with the West.

The impact 
Putin’s trip, the second abroad since his invasion of Ukraine in February, follows U.S. President Joe Biden’s first to the Middle East on July 16. If the allegation by the United States proves accurate, Russia’s military may receive hundreds of Iranian-made drones that could boost its advance into Ukraine. The sale could also help Iran’s struggling economy amid increasing U.S. sanctions. On the Syrian front, the war remains a stalemate, and little is expected from the talks to change the status quo.

July 20

U.K. Royal Mail strike

British postal workers will begin three days of strike action on Wednesday over plans to cut up to 700 jobs and reduce annual pay by up to £7,000 ($8,300) for some staff. 

What’s happened so far 
At least 2,400 managerial staff at Royal Mail will carry out four days of work-to-rule industrial action from July 15, ahead of the full strike beginning July 20, the Unite union said. Disruption to all postal services is expected during this time as managers will not be processing packages as normal.  

The impact 
U.K. postal workers represented by another union already engaged in strike action this year over below-inflation pay offers. Royal Mail has put in place contingency plans to minimize disruption and said there are no grounds for industrial action.

July 20

Sri Lanka to hold parliament vote for new president

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s parliament will vote to elect a new president after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation.

What’s happened so far 
Sri Lanka has lived through the worst economic crisis in its history with severe shortages of food and fuel, depleted foreign reserves, and inflation reaching all-time highs. Violent protests followed, and on Saturday, Sri Lankans unprecedentedly occupied the president’s residence, which led to him escaping the country and giving presidential powers to the current prime minister. The 255-seat parliament will choose candidates by Friday. 

The impact 
Many countries are watching the transition of power closely amid the political turmoil. Talks with the IMF continue over a needed loan program to pay for imports, but the political uncertainty puts this on the line. While there are concerns of military intervention, opposition leader Sajith Premadasa is a front runner for president and has promised to lead the country to stability, but Sri Lanka’s economic woes will undoubtedly take years to fully fix. 

What Else Matters

Shinzo Abe, former Primer Minister of Japan, stands at a lectern delivering a speech. He is in a suit and tie.
Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was shot and killed while giving a campaign speech in Nara on July 8. (Photo: Japanese Prime Minister’s Office)

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assassination

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and an enduring political force even after his time in office, was shot and killed while giving a campaign speech in Nara on July 8. Gun violence is rare in Japan as gun use is heavily restricted, exemplified by the suspected assailant’s use of a homemade firearm, but assassinations and assassination attempts are not without precedent in the country. Abe leaves behind an extensive but controversial legacy, with supporters praising his statesmanship and support for liberal democracy, and critics denouncing his nationalism, revisionism and military hawkishness. 

Watch for: 
Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida resolved to take responsibility for policy goals previously pursued by Abe, including amending the country’s pacifist constitution to allow for a military. That seems increasingly likely after his ruling coalition, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, won a supermajority of seats in the country’s upper house just two days after the assassination. Meanwhile, Japanese authorities are focused on investigating the motive of the suspect, who told police he held a grudge against a “particular group” he felt Abe had close ties with. Police have not officially named the group yet, but unnamed sources have told several media outlets the suspect is referring to the Unification Church.

Panama national strike

Panamanian trade unions began an indefinite strike July 7 to protest against the cost of living crisis in the country (members’ link). With emphasis on demands such as freezing fuel prices, raising salaries and lowering the cost of food, protesters have staged marches and hours-long road blockades. Education centers across all levels remain closed since last week after an overwhelming majority of teachers in the country joined the protests. President Laurentino Cortizo announced fuel prices for private vehicles will be frozen at $3.95 and prices of 10 basic food items will be lowered on July 11, a measure deemed insufficient by protest leaders.

Watch for: Unions say protests will continue until comprehensive measures are taken to alleviate the crisis. Government and protest leaders have so far held unsuccessful negotiations in Veraguas as tensions continue to rise and more unions announce indefinite or intermittent strikes to join the national movement. On the other hand, discontent is growing among employers’ associations that have urged the government to guarantee the continuity of commercial activity, claiming millions of losses since the strike started.

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

July 14-22

July 14

  • Bastille Day in France
  • EU affairs ministers meet in Prague

July 15

  • Algeria reopens land borders with Tunisia
  • Russian parliament holds extraordinary session
  • New Finland border guard act comes into force
  • Spain’s PM Sanchez meets Catalonian President Aragones

July 17

  • South Ossetia referendum
  • First U.K. Conservative Party leadership debate
  • Extreme heat warning in place for U.K.

July 18

  • E.U. Foreign Affairs Council meeting
  • Israel’s Labor party holds primary
  • WHO plans emergency meeting on monkeypox

July 19

  • MLB All-Star Game
  • Tunisia’s Rached Ghannouch faces money laundering charges
  • Turkey, Iran and Russia hold summit in Iran

July 20

  • U.K. Royal Mail strike
  • Sri Lanka holds parliament vote for new president

July 21

  • San Diego Comic-Con begins

July 23-29

July 23

  • 11th ASEAN Para Games in Indonesia
  • Pride street party in Berlin

July 24

  • Pope Francis visits Canada

July 25

  • Tunisia constitution referendum

July 27

  • French President Macron visits Benin

July 30-Aug. 5

July 31

  • Second round of Congolese National Assembly elections
  • Senegalese National Assembly elections

Aug. 2

  • Primaries in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington

Aug. 4

  • Primaries in Tennessee
  • Hungarian President Viktor Orban gives opening address at CPAC

Aug. 6-12 

Aug. 6

  • Brighton Pride in England
  • Amsterdam Pride in the Netherlands
  • Hamburg Pride in Germany

Aug. 9

  • Kenya general election
  • Primaries in Connecticut, Vermont, Minnesota and Wisconsin

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