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Factal Forecast: Bolivian strike turns deadly, Brazil presidential election heads to runoff, and Elon Musk’s Twitter deal closes

Two observers look at around a dozen people who are clustered around an entry.

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.

An indefinite work strike in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz region turned violent with at least one person killed amid calls for a census to be brought forward a year. In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editor Jimmy Lovaas and Editor Jaime Calle Moreno discuss the implications of the census and what the strike means for the major agriculture export hub

Listen now or download on your favorite platform. 

Week of Oct. 28-Nov. 4
A Look Ahead

Oct. 27 – ASEAN foreign ministers emergency meeting  

Southeast Asian foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday to discuss the Myanmar peace process.

What’s happened so far 
The meeting comes just a few days after opposition groups claim a military air strike killed dozens at a concert in Myanmar’s northern state of Kachin. Recommendations on next steps in the peace process are set to be discussed in the meeting, with the 10-country bloc looking specifically at the five-point plan from April 2021 that sought to end the violence in Myanmar. 

The impact 
The conflict-torn country has been plunged in violence since last year’s coup ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and led to a military crackdown that has left thousands killed so far. With little progress in the peace process, the meeting will judge whether new changes or approaches are required to address the conflict ahead the ASEAN summit next month.

Oct. 28 – Elon Musk closes Twitter deal  

After months of back-and-forth, Elon Musk is expected to officially acquire the social media platform Twitter by Friday.

What’s happened so far 
At the beginning of 2022, Musk started buying shares of Twitter without disclosing it publicly. He eventually accumulated more than 5 percent, before openly criticizing Twitter abd saying the algorithm should be open source. The next month, Twitter’s board unanimously accepted a $44 billion buyout from Musk, though he tried to pause the deal due to reports that 5 percent of Twitter’s users were spam. Twitter eventually sued Musk and, earlier this month, Musk reversed course and assured people close to him the deal would get done before Friday’s court-ordered deadline.

The impact 
Musk plans big changes for the company. He says he’ll cut 75 percent of the workforce, leading employees to circulate a letter protesting the move, calling it “reckless.” He also says he’ll reverse the ban on former President Donald Trump, who was removed from the platform for stoking violence on Jan. 6, 2021. The deal may also put Musk and his ventures in the Biden administration’s crosshairs. The United States is considering national security reviews for his companies following Musk’s threat to cut Starlink satellite service to Ukraine.

Oct. 28 – Pakistan’s PTI begins long march

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former prime minister and chairman of the PTI party, will lead his supporters on an anti-government protest march from Lahore beginning Friday to call for early elections.

What’s happened so far 
The march comes a week after the former premier was disqualified from his parliamentary seat after Pakistan’s election commission found him guilty of selling gifts received from foreign dignitaries while in office, resulting in nationwide protests. Set to begin at 11 a.m. local time the march will lead Khan and his supporters through a number of cities before its anticipated arrival in Islamabad on Nov. 4. 

The impact 
Since being ousted as prime minister through a no-confidence motion in April, Khan and his supporters have led a large number of rallies and protests across the country, often calling for snap elections. Though Khan has promised a peaceful march, concerns over security remain, resulting in the deployment of over 13,000 police officers in and around the capital city. 

Oct. 30 – Brazil presidential election runoff  

On Sunday, incumbent far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and former left-wing President Lula da Silva will face each other in the second round of one of Brazil’s most significant elections in history.

What’s happened so far 
The highly anticipated vote sees da Silva, who served as the country’s president between 2003 and 2011, making a comeback after his 12 year-sentence in a corruption case was ruled unlawful. Several polls suggested da Silva was likely to win in the first round following Bolsonaro’s failures in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and his controversial environmental policies. Da Silva, however, failed to secure a majority with 48.4 percent of the vote against Bolsonaro’s 43.2 percent.

The impact 
The tight race shows the country is deeply divided, with Bolsonaro narrowing the gap in recent weeks despite several scandals hitting his campaign just days before the runoff. Tensions are high ahead of the vote, with Roberto Jefferson, a radical ally of Bolsonaro, attacking federal police with grenades and a rifle last weekend. While the president tried to distance himself and called the violence “unfortunate,” there are fears he could reject the election results if he loses. Bolsonaro has made repeated claims that the electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud and even said “only God” could remove him from office.

Nov. 1 – Denmark general elections 

Danes will head to the polls Tuesday in a snap-general election announced by the current prime minister.

What’s happened so far 
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen survived a no-confidence vote earlier in October brought up by one of the government’s center-left allies after a parliamentary investigation criticized her decision to exterminate 15 million minks during the coronavirus pandemic. Frederiksen then announced new general elections at the start of November, with two main blocs competing for the 179 seats in parliament.

The impact 
Despite criticism over Frederiksen’s handling of the pandemic, analysts suggest the incumbent prime minister and her Social Democrat party are leading in the polls. The race remains tight, however, with the left and right-wing coalitions expected to gain similar support after the country’s Moderate party, led by former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, rising in the latest opinion polls. Regardless of the outcome, Denmark is set to keep its strict anti-immigration laws that see support from both wings of the political spectrum.

Nov. 1 – Israel general elections

On Tuesday, Israel will hold the country’s fifth national general election in less than four years.

What’s happened so far 
The upcoming election was triggered when the ruling coalition lost their majority in the Israeli Knesset after one of its religious lawmakers retracted his support. With one seat short of the 61-seat majority needed in parliament, Knesset members, currently headed by interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid, called for snap elections in November.

The impact 
Polls indicate former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading the race, with his center-right Likud party expected to gain approximately 30 seats. His party falls short of an outright majority, however, and negotiations are still underway to form a center-right coalition strong enough to reach the majority in parliament. Likely members of his coalition include Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right lawmaker who is against the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Nov. 1 – South Korea to allow visa-free travel from Japan  

Visitors from Japan and seven other regions will be allowed to enter South Korea without a visa starting Tuesday as coronavirus-related travel restrictions continue to relax. 

What’s happened so far 
South Korea has gradually lifted restrictions on travel over the past year, including PCR testing requirements for inbound travelers earlier this month and quarantine requirements for non-vaccinated arrivals in June. Visa-free travel from Japan was suspended in March 2020, but was restored temporarily in August this year to promote tourism. After Japan reintroduced visa waivers for most foreign travelers, South Korea is now reciprocating in kind.

The impact 
Increased mutual tourism between South Korea and Japan is expected, with flights between Seoul’s Gimpo Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to double from 28 to 56 flights starting Oct. 30. South Korea’s reopening trends with reopening borders across much of Asia, with the notable exception of mainland China.

Nov. 3 – Potential work stoppage for Ontario school employees  

More than 50,000 education workers in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, could walk off the job as soon as Thursday if a deal is not reached between their union and the government. 

What’s happened so far 
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the workers (including library staffers, administrators, and educational assistants, but not teachers), has not yet said whether it would engage in a full strike or participate in a less disruptive work-to-rule campaign without a contract agreement. While local chapters have hit the picket line in the past, the full union has never walked off the job over the central collective agreement.

The impact 
Union leaders appear hesitant to call a strike, instead hoping to increase pressure for a “negotiated settlement,” while Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned that the government could ban a work stoppage altogether, adding, “don’t force my hand.” The union is required to provide five-day notice of any job action. 

Nov. 4 – Unity Day in Russia

Russia will celebrate its Unity Day on Friday, a patriotic holiday to commemorate the end of the Polish-Russian war in 1618.

What’s happened so far 
While nowhere near as big and prominent as Russia’s annual celebration of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, Unity Day still represents a patriotic holiday that doubles as a celebration of diversity within Russia. This year’s will mark the first since February’s full invasion of Ukraine, which appears poised to continue to drag on throughout the forthcoming winter with Moscow escalating the war in multiple facets. 

The impact 
Unity Day’s supposed celebration of Russia’s diversity also ties into the war effort, which has witnessed Russia’s minority populations shouldering a disproportionate burden of the fighting. While evident since the beginning of the invasion, Russia’s recent actions exposed this reality for ethnic minority regions, which have been heavily impacted by mobilization measures that largely spared cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. 

What Else Matters

Rishi Sunak waves to supporters
Rishi Sunak, a former finance minister, has taken office as Britain’s 47th prime minister and the third premier in seven weeks following turmoil in the country’s government.
(Photo: Number 10 / Flickr)

Indefinite strike in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz region 

On Saturday, an indefinite and widespread work strike began in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with at least one person killed during clashes on the first day in Puerto Quijarro. Falling on the anniversary of 2019’s protests that ultimately led to former President Evo Morales’s resignation, the strike pushes for the national census to be conducted in 2023 rather than in 2024. The census in Bolivia is vital in terms of redistributing the government’s tax income to its autonomous regions, and Santa Cruz, being one of the richest and most targeted by immigration, believes the current redistribution does not account for its growth and postponing the census until 2024 is too far. 

Watch for: The clashes that erupted early Saturday are a focal point for what could occur if negotiations between civic local groups and President Luis Arce’s government continue top break down. Work stoppages can paralyze the regional economy and lead to the militarization of the region, and blockades can result in clashes between those who support the strike and individuals who continue working. The census itself is also important ahead of 2025’s presidential elections, so it’s expected that the strike continues as long as the government does not budge, with Arce calling it a “coup adventure.” 

UK government crisis

Rishi Sunak has taken office as the United Kingdom’s 47th prime minister, succeeding Liz Truss, who after less than two months in the job, quit and earned the title of Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister. Sunak has a lengthy to-do list, but nothing rates higher than dealing with the country’s economic problems that were exacerbated by a disastrous mini-budget that tanked the pound and destroyed his predecessor’s political career.

Watch for: Sunak was forced to play political defense in the first hours of his administration after he re-appointed Suella Braverman as the country’s interior minister, only a week after she dramatically resigned the post of home secretary in the wake of two data breaches. Sunak will also have to defend other appointments he’s made, which include veterans from the administrations of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, as well as decide which of their policies he supports. The first set-piece event of his premiership will be an economic statement that will be delivered by the country’s finance minister Nov. 17. The markets will be looking for signs of economic competence and the public will be hoping for support amid rising inflation. Meanwhile, the country edges toward what might be a cold winter of high prices and power cuts.

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

Oct. 28-Nov. 4 

Oct. 28

  • Elon Musk expected to close Twitter deal
  • Pakistan’s PTI begins long march

Oct. 30

  • Brazil presidential election runoff
  • EU Informal meeting of trade ministers

Oct. 31

  • Trial of 21 defendants of deadly 2018 fire in Mati, Greece
  • South Korean, U.S. militaries start large-scale joint drills

Nov. 1

  • General election in Israel
  • Denmark general election

Nov. 3

  • Pope Francis visits Bahrain 
  • G7 foreign ministers to meet in Munster, Germany
  • German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits South Korea

Nov. 4

  • Russia’s Unity Day

Nov. 5-11

Nov. 5

  • UK rail union RMT to take strike action

Nov. 6

  • COP27 in Egypt
  • UK to reverse payroll tax rise

Nov. 7

  • Eurogroup meeting
  • UK rail union RMT to take strike action

Nov. 8

  • U.S. midterm elections
  • 40th and 41st ASEAN summits in Cambodia

Nov. 9

  • UK rail union RMT to take strike action

Nov. 10

  • French trade union confederation CGT calls for strikes

Nov. 11

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to visit India

Nov. 12-18 

Nov. 13

  • Lebanon holds parliament session to elect new head of state

Nov. 15

  • NASA Artemis I moon mission launch attempt

Nov. 17 

  •     Dutch verdict in flight MH17 trial

Nov. 18

  • Portuguese trade union Frente Comum national strike for public sector workers

Nov. 19-25

Nov. 19

  • Malaysia national elections

Nov. 20 

  • Nepal general election
  • World Cup starts in Qatar
  • Kazakhstan presidential elections
  • Elections in Equatorial Guinea

Nov. 23

  • UK medium-term fiscal plan

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