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Forecast: Senate, House hang in balance in close midterm polls, Hurricane Nicole makes landing on Florida’s coast, and Ukraine to finalize IMF deal

January 6 Committee with a video of former President Trump behind them

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.

The U.S. midterm elections didn’t bring the “red wave” some anticipated. Instead, they left overall control of Congress in question. In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editor Jimmy Lovaas and Editor Joe Veyera discuss how the narrow balance of power will likely affect the next two years and what to watch for next.

Listen now or download on your favorite platform. 

Week of Nov. 11-18
A Look Ahead

Nov. 13 – March against electoral reform in Mexico  

Major unions and opposition organizations called in 12 cities across Mexico for Monday to reject a bill seeking to reform the country’s electoral system. 

What’s happened so far 
Mexico’s opposition, trade unions and civil society associations called for protests in at least a dozen cities across the country to reject an electoral reform bill that seeks to cut political parties’ public funding, reduce seats in parliament and replace of the National Electoral Institute (INE). The main concern among those set to protest Monday is the substitution of the INE for a new regulatory body with fewer members and whose councilors and magistrates would be appointed by popular vote.

The impact 
The government has defended the reform, claiming it would save the Mexican treasury some 24 million pesos ($1.23 million) in public spending. The project, however, has been criticized as an attempt by President Andres Manuel López Obrador to limit the independence of essential democratic bodies. López Obrador has criticized the INE in the past, claiming the electoral watchdog concealed the results of a survey showing an overwhelming support for the reform from more than 90 percent of citizens. 

Nov. 13 – Slovenia presidential runoff  

Slovenian voters will choose their next president Sunday after neither of the top two candidates received an outright majority in the first round of voting.

What’s happened so far 
Conservative candidate Anže Logar and center-left choice Natasa Pirc Musar will face off in Sunday’s vote after finishing first and second respectively in the first round of Slovenia’s election, defeating multiple other candidates. Whoever wins will succeed long-serving incumbent President Borut Pahor, in office since 2012. 

The impact 
Logar, who served as foreign minister under far-right Prime Minister Janez Janša, has sought to distance himself from the hard-right politics of his Eurosceptic party and run as a unifying candidate. Musar, meanwhile, would be the first woman elected as head of state since Slovenia gained independence from Yugoslavia. Though Slovenia’s president is a largely figurehead role, the vote will serve as a referendum gauging where Slovenians stand on liberal, pro-European politics.

Nov. 13 –  Lebanon elects new head of state  

Lebanon’s parliament will hold a special session on Sunday to elect the country’s next president.

What’s happened so far 
Former President Michel Aoun resigned after his six-year term ended on Oct. 31. Despite four rounds of voting, Lebanon’s parliament repeatedly failed to elect a new head of state ahead of the resignation, which means the upcoming session will be the first time lawmakers will meet without having either a president or cabinet. Incumbent Prime Minister Najib Mikati, however, ruled that his caretaker government would be able to assume the presidential powers until a substitution is found, despite Aoun using his outgoing speech to call for lawmakers to withdraw confidence.

The impact 
According to the country’s sectarian system, the president is always a Maronite Christian elected in a secret ballot in the 128-seat parliament, but in order to reach quorum, each candidate will need to secure seats from other alliances and factions. The Hezbollah bloc’s preferred candidate appears to be pro-Syria lawmaker Sleiman Frangieh, while the anti-Hezbollah bloc has several likely candidates, including Aoun’s son-in-law, Gebran Bassil. Whoever is elected head of state will be charged with securing an IMF deal drafted earlier in May in an effort to tackle a years-long financial crisis that has driven more than 80 percent of the population into poverty.

Nov. 14 – Trump testimony to House panel  

The U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has subpoenaed former President Donald Trump to appear for a deposition as early as Monday.

What’s happened so far 
The bipartisan committee investigating the attacks on the Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists is also subpoenaing documents from Trump’s legal team relating to all of the former president’s efforts to invalidate the 2020 election. While the committee granted Trump an extension on turning over the documents, he is not expected to cooperate

The impact 
Refusal to cooperate with the committee could trigger a prolonged legal battle that could reach the Supreme Court, though this may not be necessary if Republicans gain a House majority in the elections and disband the committee. The committee could also choose to take the unprecedented steps of issuing Trump a contempt referral or even recommending him for criminal charges. 

Nov. 15 – G20 summit in Bali  

World leaders will gather in Bali on Tuesday for a G20 summit, where they are expected to discuss a number of issues ranging from inflation, the global food crisis, energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine.

What’s happened so far 
This is the first summit since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. One of the key questions is whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will show up, and if he does, what the reaction will be from other world leaders. The Kremlin is expected to confirm whether or not he will attend in coming days, though Indonesia’s leader has suggested he may not attend in person but could join virtually. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would not participate in the summit if Putin attends. 

The impact 
Coordinated global action to address issues caused or worsened by the fallout from the Ukraine conflict is high on the agenda, but there are a number of issues for world leaders to discuss, including renewed Chinese saber-rattling over Taiwan and North Korea’s recent launches. 

Nov. 15 – Japan, China plan Kishida-Xi meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to hold talks on Tuesday in what would be the first meeting between the countries’ leaders in nearly three years.

What’s happened so far 
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Xi has not held a summit with a Japanese prime minister since December 2019. While the meeting is not officially confirmed, diplomatic sources suggest the two leaders could meet on the sidelines of a summit of the G20 presidency in Indonesia on Tuesday or during a meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation countries later in the week in Bangkok. 

The impact 
The meeting would come just months after China fired ballistic missiles into waters near Japan during a military exercise following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. It also comes just weeks after China’s Xi was elected for an unprecedented third term, strengthening his political power.

Nov. 16 – NASA Artemis I moon mission launch attempt 

Following a series of delays, NASA is set to launch its Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for its historic Artemis I mission Wednesday

What’s happened so far 
According to NASA, Artemis I is the first in a series of missions “to build a long-term human presence” on the moon. The unmanned mission plans to test the capabilities of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft and ensure safety before the first flight with a crew on Artemis II, which will bring humans close to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972

The impact 
The Artemis I mission has been marred by several delays due to technical issues and severe weather. The launch, which is set to occur at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, was previously postponed at the end of September due to Hurricane Ian, with this week’s Hurricane Nicole causing yet another delay. A successful launch Wednesday will see an expected splashdown on Dec. 11, marking the first step towards landing humans back on the moon. 

Nov. 17 – Ukraine set to finalize IMF agreements  

Ukraine is expected to finalize Thursday an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a 2023 economic recovery plan after a week-long mission by the financial agency on the war-battered country.

What’s happened so far 
Last month, IMF staff met with the Ukrainian finance minister and the governor of the National Bank in Vienna, Austria, where they agreed to finalize agreements on the extended funding program during a second mission, which will start Friday and end next Thursday. Ahead of the agreement, Ukraine recently kept interest rates unchanged, while warning of high inflationary pressure. 

The impact 
Since Russia’s invasion in February, Ukraine has been hit by a decline in its gross domestic product, high inflation and severe trade disruptions. To help offset the impact on Russian aggression, IMF and Ukrainian officials discussed the possibility of a new loan program to help its state budget for 2023. The country is expected to receive $20 billion from the United States and the IMF next year, in addition to the $18 billion in aid promised by the European Union.

Nov. 17 – UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s economic statement 

Newly-appointed British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt will announce the country’s economic plan Thursday to face the ongoing economic and energy crises.

What’s happened so far 
After delaying the announcement by several weeks, the chancellor promised a full autumn statement outlining long-term plans for the country’s troubled economy. It will come just two months after former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ controversial mini-budget led to the dismissal of the then Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and Truss’ subsequent resignation days later. With a new government in place, reports suggest Hunt will announce tax rises and spending cuts totaling £60 billion ($68.7 billion).

The impact 
The last few months have been incredibly unstable in the U.K., with three prime ministers in three months, and four chancellors in four months. Markets and the population hope the autumn statement will bring some clarity on the government’s plan to restore the economy. So far, leaders have reversed key elements of the low tax and big spending plans Truss and Kwarteng outlined in September, moving instead toward a strategy of big savings and tax increases as the country faces sky-rocketing inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.

What Else Matters

Nicole strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday while making landfall on Grand Bahama Island and ahead of its landfall in Florida. (GIF: CIRA / NOAA)

Hurricane Nicole

Nicole, a rare November hurricane, moved onshore on Florida’s Atlantic coast early Thursday with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph. Prior to its U.S. landfall, the Category 1 storm hit the Bahamas on Wednesday, flooding streets and sending hundreds to government shelters. Florida grounded flights and ordered evacuations for coastal residents ahead of the storm Wednesday. With the state still recovering from September’s Hurricane Ian, which killed at least 100 people and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands, President Joe Biden preemptively activated disaster relief efforts for Nicole.

Watch for: Well ahead of landfall, tropical storm–force winds and a storm surge damaged structures on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. As of Thursday morning, approximately 122,000 people have lost power in the state. Flash flooding remains a risk for southeast and central Florida on Thursday as the storm moves across the state. By Friday, the storm will move through Georgia and South Carolina, and, though weakened, it will still bring the threat of flooding and strong winds. 

U.S. midterms

As of Wednesday evening, the day after the U.S. midterm elections, control of both the Senate and House of Representatives remains unclear with a number of key races still too close to call. Republicans were widely expected to win enough seats to take over at least the lower chamber, but a “red wave” failed to materialize at the polls, bucking historical trends that typically see the party of the incumbent president lose significant ground.

Watch for: As in 2020, Senate control will now likely hinge on the outcome of a runoff in Georgia next month between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, with races in Arizona and Nevada also still outstanding. Regardless of which party takes the House, they’ll have a narrow majority to pass legislation, potentially handing power to moderates on both sides of the aisle. In the lead-up to election day, the GOP vowed to stifle President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda and hamper efforts to confirm judicial nominees if they won control of both chambers.

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

Nov. 11-18

Nov. 11

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

Nov. 12

  • Bahraini Council of Representatives election

Nov. 13

  • Lebanon holds parliament session to elect new head of state
  • Slovenia presidential election runoff 

Nov. 14

  • EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting
  • Former President Trump expected to testify at House panel 

Nov. 15

  • Indonesia hosts G20 Summit on island of Bali 
  • Former President Trump expected to announce 2024 presidential bid

Nov. 16

  • NASA Artemis I moon mission launch attempt

Nov. 17 

  • Dutch verdict in flight MH17 trial
  • Portuguese nurses strike
  • UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt gives economic statement
  • APEC ministerial meeting

Nov. 18

  • Portuguese trade union Frente Comum national strike for public sector workers
  • Brazil’s new president visits Portugal

Nov. 19-25

Nov. 19

  • Malaysia national elections
  • Black sea grain deal expiration date
  • Francophone summit in Djerba, Tunisia

Nov. 20 

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

Nov. 21

  • ASEAN defense ministers meeting 

Nov. 22

  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits UK
  • Russia’s Putin visits Armenia 

Nov. 23

  • UK medium-term fiscal plan

Nov. 24

  • U.S. Thanksgiving

Nov. 25

  • International day for elimination of violence against women

Nov. 26-Dec. 2  

Nov. 26 

  • Taiwan holds mayoral elections

Nov. 29

  • NATO foreign ministers meet in Bucharest 
  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will visit Japan

Dec. 1

  • World AIDS Day
  • President Biden hosts French President Macron at White House

Dec. 3-9 

Dec. 5

  • Eurogroup meeting

Dec. 6

  • Runoff in Georgia Senate race
  • EU-Western Balkans summit

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