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Forecast: Turkey braces for runoff election, G7 leaders meet in Japan, and possible flooding in northern Italy

The eight leaders of the G7 in June 2022 sit circling a round table. Joe Biden of the United States is the most prominent in this photo.

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.

After failing to secure a majority in round one of Turkey’s election, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has less than two weeks to fight for another term. In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Halima Mansoor discuss the drama that accompanied the first round and what to watch for as the May 28 runoff nears.

Listen now or download on your favorite platform. 

Week of May 19-26
A Look Ahead

May 19 – G7 meeting in Hiroshima

Leaders of the most influential countries will begin meeting on Friday in Japan under the specter of global economic uncertainty amid U.S. debt ceiling negotiations.

What’s happened so far 
The last G7 summit was in June 2022 in Germany, where leaders provided a united front against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the world’s economy has faced several shocks, including the failure of banks in the United States and Switzerland and a sharp increase in inflation. Now, the world is watching as President Joe Biden and Republican congressional leaders try to negotiate a deal before the June 1 deadline. Biden has already canceled the second part of his trip to Asia and plans to fly home after the G7 meetings to continue the negotiations.

The impact 
If the United States were to default on its $31.4 trillion debt, the global implications would be massive. It would mean the United States would be unable to borrow more money, thus throwing the world markets into chaos. An American default has never happened before and both sides expressed optimism that a deal would get done. 

May 20 – Further flooding threat for northern Italy  

More heavy rainfall could hit parts of Italy on Saturday, after flooding in the drought-struck Emilia-Romagna region left at least nine people dead and forced more than 10,000 others from their homes.

What’s happened so far 
In a span of 36 hours this week, some areas received around half of their average yearly rainfall, triggering at least 120 landslides and one bridge collapse, as well as widespread road damage and the suspension of rail service. The severe weather forced the cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix race in Imola, with organizers saying “it would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services.” 

The impact 
Italian Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said “nothing will ever be the same again,” as the country increasingly experiences tropical weather more commonly found in parts of Africa, where intense rainfall follows long periods of drought, leaving soil unable to absorb the deluge.

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May 21 – Timor-Leste elections  

A record number of voters will head to the polls Sunday in the young nation of Timor-Leste to elect its new parliament a year after giving President José Ramos-Horta a landslide victory.

What’s happened so far 
A total of 17 parties are competing for votes, with the largest being Revolutionary Front of Timor-Leste Independente (Fretilin), fronted by former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and the National Congress of Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), led by former Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. Last year, Ramos-Horta was elected president with CNRT backing. A recent poll showed CNRT with 49 percent of the votes, ahead of Ftetilin with 25 percent, shortly after current Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak accused the country’s president of abuse of power for ordering the dismissal of the National Intelligence head.

The impact 
With a large percentage of the electorate voting for the first time this election, the results could be somewhat unpredictable, with voters demanding better job and training opportunities. Meanwhile, pre-election coalitions have been prohibited, meaning new coalitions could form after the vote. The president has said an absolute majority would be the “best solution for the country,” while arguing the winning party should not work alone in governance. The vote will be closely monitored following reports of recent unrest, despite police claiming it is not to related.

May 21 – Greece elections  

Greeks vote Sunday for the country’s national elections after parliament was dissolved in late April.

What’s happened so far 
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the vote during a government cabinet meeting in March ahead of the end of his term in July amid pressure on his administration over the management of a train accident that killed dozens of people in February (member’s link) and a cost of living crisis due to high inflation. New parliament and government members will be designated under a new proportional representation system that eliminates the former 50-seat bonus granted to the party with more votes, increasing the likelihood that negotiations will be required to form the new executive body.

The impact 
The 300 seats of the Greek parliament and the prime minister’s office are mainly disputed by two contenders. The current ruling conservative party New Democracy led by Mitsotakis, who is running for reelection, has announced a program for the next term based on wage increases and tax cuts. Leftist former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is running with Syriza-Progressive Alliance, promising to raise salaries, reduce working hours and boost public spending by lowering the threshold for tax exemptions. The socialist Pasok-Kinal party, led by Nikos Androulakis, could be key to forming a governing coalition. If no party reaches a minimum of 45 percent of votes, a second round will be held in June.

May 21 – WHO annual meeting 

On Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet in Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly.

What’s happened so far 
At the World Health Assembly, member states’ delegates will discuss this next year’s public health strategies, priorities and budgets for the international organization. This year’s annual meeting is under the theme of “Health for All: 75 years of improving public health,” featuring topics such as post-pandemic recovery, worldwide vaccinations and collaboration between member states. 

The impact 
Whatever the public health agenda will be, the budgets will need to be approved for the WHO’s upcoming year and discussions will remain centered on health issues. Overhanging the meeting is continued omission of Taiwan, with the United States again requesting the country to be an observer in the assembly, causing tensions with China. The WHO ultimately rejected the request, as they have done in recent years, but it is yet to be seen whether this causes any significant rupture in already fraught relations. 

May 22 – India holds G-20 session in disputed Kashmir 

India is hosting a G-20 session in Indian-administered Kashmir beginning Monday in what will be the first high-level global event held in the region since New Delhi scrapped Kashmir’s special status in 2019.

What’s happened so far 
The decision to host a working group meeting on tourism at Dal Lake in the Muslim-majority valley has drawn strong condemnation from Pakistan.  India has ramped up security around the regional capital of Srinagar, with many armed bunkers visible in the city. Authorities reportedly removed the usually highly visible barbed wire from many sites in the city ahead of the arrival of foreign dignitaries and put up Indian flags. Security forces also increased crackdowns on militants suspected to be backed by Islamabad, in addition to an ongoing response to the deadly attack on soldiers in Rajouri. Military-run schools in the region will be virtual until after the G-20.

The impact 
India’s move is widely seen as part of its ongoing effort to normalize control of the disputed area while simultaneously trying to dispel the appearance of Kashmir as a heavily militarized territory with an unhappy population that demands self-determination. As a result, New Delhi is working to attract both tourism and foreign investors. While the Hindu nationalist government of India views a $60 million UAE project to build a mall and office complex in Srinagar as a win, locals see it as a a betrayal by a Muslim country.

May 24 – House panel votes on Blinken contempt charges  

Michael McCaul, chairman of the GOP-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee, is threatening to hold a vote on contempt charges for Secretary of State Antony Blinken as early as Wednesday.

What’s happened so far 
McCaul launched an investigation earlier this year into the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. As part of the probe, Republican lawmakers are seeking documents relating to the withdrawal as well as interviews with relevant officials. As part of his pressure campaign for cooperation, McCaul is now threatening Blinken with contempt charges.

The impact 
If it happens, this would mark the first-ever instance of a U.S. secretary of state being held in criminal contempt of Congress. The charges would be largely symbolic, with the Biden administration’s Department of Justice unlikely to pursue prosecution. Politically, Biden’s frenzied withdrawal presents an interesting question mark for the GOP heading into the 2024 election season given former President Donald Trump’s rapid vacillations between supporting a rapid withdrawal and extreme hawkishness over the conflict.  

May 24 – Deadline for announcement of fresh elections in Ecuador  

A new date for the fresh elections in Ecuador will have to be set by Wednesday after President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the country’s congress in an attempt to escape impeachment.

What’s happened so far 
Lasso’s controversial move to dissolve the National Assembly came just hours after the start of his impeachment trial, where he argued the allegations made against him concerning an alleged embezzlement were “politically motivated.” According to Lasso’s decree, the country’s electoral council now has seven days to set a date for new elections, which must be held within 90 days. Those elected will replace the former lawmakers for the rest of the current term, which ends in May 2025.

The impact 
While the armed forces quickly pledged support in Lasso, the leader of Ecuador’s largest indigenous union CONAIE called the move a “cowardly self-coup with the help of the police and the armed forces, without citizen support.” CONAIE, which had previously demanded Lasso leave office and impeachment proceedings be held, are likely to call for protests. On the other hand, if the impeachment had gone ahead, the opposition-controlled parliament was likely to have succeeded.

What Else Matters

This photo of a blank Turkish presidential election ballot shows all four candidates.
None of the four candidates running in the first round of Turkey’s presidential election received a majority of the votes, so the race heads to a runoff on May 28. (Photo: Kadi / Wikimedia Commons)

Senegal opposition protests

A police officer was killed and at least three people injured in Ziguinchor, Senegal, on Monday amid demonstrations over opposition leader Ousmane Sonko’s ongoing legal troubles. Sonko was handed a suspended sentence in March after a court found him guilty of defaming the country’s tourism minister. He was also due to appear in court in Dakar on Tuesday to face a rape allegation. His supporters say the charges are a political ploy by President Macky Sall to prevent Sonko from challenging Sall in the 2024 presidential election.

Watch for: Further demonstrations are likely while Sonko continues to answer ongoing legal proceedings. Following the defamation trial, Sonko said he would no longer respond to court summons, meaning Senegalese authorities would have to arrest him to force him to appear at any future trial. In Dakar, wider dissent against the government is also spreading — a coalition of political organizations named F24 has called for further demonstrations against Sall running for an “illegal and illegitimate” third term. 

Turkey runoff election

Turkey is set for a runoff election between incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, scheduled for May 28, after none of the four candidates running in the first round received a majority of the votes. Results certified by the country’s supreme election council gave Erdogan a lead of 49.51 percent to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.88 percent with all domestic ballot boxes opened. Both campaigns have accepted the result and have pivoted back into campaign mode for the final two-week stretch, where the opposition will be looking to make up a five-point gap and Erdogan will be looking to cement a win.

Watch for: Third place candidate Sinan Ogan looks like a potential kingmaker after commanding 5 percent of the vote Sunday. Though he is yet to endorse anyone, it would come as a surprise to many if the ultranationalist politician chose the center-left opposition over Erdogan. Both sides need to make up ground, but the climb is steeper for the opposition, with Erdogan’s perceived weaknesses stemming from missteps in dealing with the country’s economy and recent earthquake response criticism already priced in. Kilicdaroglu may have to broaden his coalition and appeal more to nationalists if he wants to scoop up Ogan’s vote, but that is likely to come at the cost of Kurdish support. 

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

May 19-26 

May 19

  • Summit of Arab leaders
  • Japan to host summit of G7 leaders

May 20

  • New flooding threat hits central Italy

May 21

  • Timor-Leste elections
  • Greece elections
  • WHO holds World Health Assembly

May 22

  • EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels
  • India G20 in Kashmir
  • French Open begins

May 23

  •  Switzerland holds ministerial debate on themes it will raise as non-permanent member of UN Security Council

May 24

  • U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee vote on Blinken contempt charges
  • Deadline for announcement of fresh elections in Ecuador

May 25

  • APEC ministers responsible for trade meet in Detroit

May 27-June 2 

May 28

  • Indianapolis 500

May 29

  • Alberta provincial general election
  • Korea-Pacific Islands Summit

May 30

  • Miami Beach International Fashion Week begins

May 31

  • Norway hosts meeting of NATO foreign ministers
  • Latvia’s parliament elects president

June 1

  • U.S. debt ceiling deadline
  • European Political Community meets in Moldova
  • NBA Finals begin

June 2

  • Shangri-La Dialogue Asia security summit in Singapore

June 3-9 

June 4

  • OPEC+ meeting
  • India monsoon rains expected to hit Kerala

June 5

  • Commission measures preventing Ukrainian grain exports to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia Romania and Bulgaria set to expire

June 6

  • European Parliament election
  • French unions plan fresh protests against pension law

June 10-16 

June 10

  • 2023 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul

June 11

  • Montenegro parliamentary elections

June 15

  • U.S. Open for golf begins

June 16

  • Special Olympics World Summer Games begin

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Top photo: G7 leaders, pictured here, last met in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in June 2022. The leaders will gather again this week in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa via AP)

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