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Forecast: Republicans pick new U.S. House speaker, Pakistan orders “illegal immigrants” to leave country, and Biden hosts summit on migration

The flag of Turkey flies in the breeze.

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.

U.S. House Republicans elected Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana on Wednesday, ending a three-week vacancy. In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editor Jimmy Lovaas and Editor Joe Veyera discuss how filling the seat may end the GOP infighting, but not be an instant solution to the looming budget crisis. 

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Week of October 27-November 3
A Look Ahead

Oct. 29 – Turkey turns 100

Turkey is set to hold a series of events starting Sunday to mark 100 years since its founding. It will be a subdued affair compared to what was promised at the onset of preparations three years ago. This toning down is attributed to the war in the Gaza Strip.

What’s happened so far 
Public broadcaster TRT postponed its “entertainment programmes,” opting for more history-oriented shows and live transmissions of ceremonies in Ankara and other cities. The education department reframed its events as commemorations instead of celebrations. The centennial remains a large affair, including an indigenous drone show over the Bosphorus, but with thin attendance by foreign dignitaries.

The impact 
While the government framed the 100th anniversary as the “beginning of a century,” signaling a new more conservative constitution, it’s now marred with harsh losses in the Istanbul bourse amid an ongoing struggle with soaring inflation. The stock market tumble followed Erdogan’s criticism of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, triggering fears of souring regional ties. The opposition has also accused the government of downplaying the importance of founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in its events, stirring a usually still sacred front on the domestic side.

Oct. 29 – China hosts 10th Xiangshan security forum  

China will hold an international security forum in Beijing starting Sundayfeaturing delegations from more than 90 countries including the United States and Australia. 

What’s happened so far 
This year’s Xiangshan Forum will be China’s first since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020. The event comes amid both increased regional tensions and shifting relations for China and its diplomatic partners, including recent flares between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea, and thawing relations with Australia.

The impact 
Analysts will be watching the forum for signs of who China has chosen to replace the country’s very recently ousted defense minister

Oct. 30 – Local elections in the Philippines  

Monday has been declared a federal holiday as Filipinos turn out to decide the leaders and councils for the more than 42,000 barangays – the country’s smallest administrative unit.

What’s happened so far 
While the vast majority of races are expected to be peaceful, the 2018 local elections saw at least 33 people killed. Already, at least eight people have been killed across the country, including two incumbents, leading to the town of Libon, Albay, consisting of 47 barangays, being placed under federal control.

The impact 
The country is bracing for further election-related violence, with 242 precincts declared under Red Alert and another 1,200 under Orange Alert. As part of preparations for violence, the police have established checkpoints near polling stations in which it is illegal to carry firearms. Violence that impacts local elections could have further effects on the 2025 general election, as barangay captains sometimes act as political operatives for national parties, despite legal restrictions on doing so.

Oct. 30 – Walgreens pharmacy staff plan walkout  

Walgreens pharmacy staff are expected to stage a walkout beginning Monday in protest of unsatisfactory working conditions. 

What’s happened so far 
Workers at Walgreens say that the company has not done enough to provide adequate resources and staffing to deal with increased work responsibilities, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout October, workers staged a string of walkouts scattered across multiple cities, and the organizers say they have been in talks with staff from other pharmacy chains about participating in the upcoming action as well. 

The impact 
There is growing concern and discontent among the overworked and understaffed pharmacy workers culminating in the walkout planned for Monday. Demands for better working conditions going unmet will likely spark nationwide walkouts, with retail pharmacy workers from other  companies prepared to join the industrial action.

Oct. 31 – Court order to block suspension of Guatemalan president-elect’s party ends  

Guatemala’s electoral process is scheduled to end on Tuesday, which could bring even more chaos to the ongoing presidential transition.

What’s happened so far 
In June, anti-corruption candidate Bernardo Arévalo scored a major upset when he finished second in the first round of the country’s presidential election, despite polling around 3 percent. His party, Movimiento Semilla, also did surprisingly well. But the certification of the election was delayed several weeks because several right-wing parties, including the leading party, filed an appeal to the Constitutional Court, citing “irregularities” and “electoral fraud.” The results were eventually certified after no such fraud was found. At the same time as the certification, the Attorney General’s office announced the suspension of Semilla due to allegations they used fake signatures when creating the party in 2017. The country’s top court then annulled that suspension, saying no party could be suspended as long as the general election period is in effect, which is through the end of October. Arévalo then went on to win the election. Since then, the country has seen protests that have turned deadly over the ongoing transition and efforts to stop Arévalo from becoming president.

The impact 
Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal may try to extend the general election period until Arévalo and the rest of his party take office. If that doesn’t come to pass, the suspension of Semilla comes back into force and the future of the transition could be in murky waters. Guatemala’s attorney general is said to be “determined to block” Arévalo from taking office and may even try to arrest him when the court order is over.

Nov. 1 – Pakistan tells “illegal immigrants” to leave the country or get deported 

Pakistan’s government has ordered all “illegal immigrants” to leave the country voluntarily by Wednesday or face deportation. 

What’s happened so far 
The order is largely believed to be targeting some 1.7 million Afghans and comes after the government’s claim that 14 out of 24 suicide bombings in the country this year were carried out by Afghan nationals. After Wednesday, Afghans will no longer be allowed entry into Pakistan with their national identity cards, leading to concerns that many workers that use the land borders for trade will lose their primary source of income. 

The impact 
The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated over the past few months over a series of border skirmishes as well as Pakistan’s accusation that Afghanistan allows Pakistani militant outfits to train on its soil. Pakistan has received a steady influx of Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Kabul in 1979, and the upcoming deadline is seen by analysts as the latest among the measures utilized to crack down on Afghans in the country.

Nov. 3 – Biden to host summit on migration  

On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden will host an inaugural Americas summit on migration, economic partnership and regional growth. 

What’s happened so far 
Following larger attempts of illegal migration, Biden has issued some policies to allow larger legal migration flows from Latin American and Caribbean countries. Safe mobility offices have been recently set up in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador. The cap for migrants from the Western Hemisphere has increased and, with many migrants coming from Venezuela, the United States has announced it would release sanctions on relief and oil production coming from the country. The latest summit was overshadowed by Mexico’s unwillingness to participate after Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba were excluded from the summit. 

The impact 
The summit will focus and centralize on creating joint statements to increase regional growth and partnerships to tackle the rise of illegal migration, but Biden’s recent policies, attempting to disincentivize long journeys to the U.S. southern border, will need time before they can be deemed successful. With the U.S. presidential elections in 2024 looming, migration will remain one of the key points of his Republican opposition, which heavily criticizes the recent increases in migration. 

What Else Matters

House Speaker Mike Johnson stands at the formal podium in the House of Representatives. Behind him are the stripes from a large American flag.
Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, won enough votes Wednesday to be elected speaker of the U.S. House, ending a three-week vacancy after Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the chair. (Photo: CSPAN)

U.S. House speaker fight 

More than three weeks after eight hard-right Republicans joined Democrats in ousting Kevin McCarthy, the U.S. House has a new speaker, voting along party lines Wednesday to hand the gavel to four-term Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana. Johnson was the fourth member of the GOP caucus to become speaker-nominee over the past three weeks, following failed bids from Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan and Tom Emmer. Scalise was the first to earn the backing of a majority of Republican House members, winning 113 votes in an Oct. 11 conference vote to become the nominee, but withdrew a day later after it became clear he would not win a vote on the House floor. Jordan won the next conference vote on Oct. 13 and took his nomination to the floor, losing three times before his nomination was pulled. Emmer became the third speaker nominee on Tuesday, only to pull his bid hours later after determining he could not garner the requisite 217 votes. 

Watch for: A Nov. 17 deadline looms for the House to pass a deal to fund the government and avoid a shutdown, while aid for both Ukraine and Israel, the passage of a farm bill and the National Defense Authorization Act, and the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration all must be addressed in the coming weeks. In his first remarks as speaker, Johnson said the first bill he would bring to the floor is a resolution in support of Israel

Israeli hostages in Gaza 

Palestinian militant group Hamas continues to detain about 200 Israelis in the Gaza Strip following more than two weeks of heavy Israeli bombardment of the territory that has left about 6,000 Palestinians dead. Several hostages have been released over the past week, coinciding with a trickle of humanitarian aid entering the Rafah border crossing from Egypt, though no side has claimed a connection between the two.

Watch for: With Israeli ground forces amassed along the Gaza Strip border, the United States is reportedly pushing for a delay to the invasion Israeli authorities have vowed to undertake to “wipe out” Hamas. The action would pose greater danger to the hostages and risk expanding the war to a possible new front with Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group and its backer Iran. Talks about the possible release of a bigger group of hostages are reportedly stalled over Israel’s unwillingness to agree to a Hamas demand to restore fuel supplies to the territory.

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

Oct. 27-Nov. 3 

Oct. 29 

  • Turkey centennial
  • Regional elections in Valle del Cauca, Colombia
  • China hosts Xiangshan security forum

Oct. 30

  • Philippines local elections
  • Walgreens pharmacy staff plan walkouts

Nov. 1

  • Court order to block suspension of Guatemalan president-elect’s party ends
  • Pakistan tells “illegal immigrants” to leave the country or get deported

Nov. 3

  • Biden hosts summit on migration

Nov. 4-10 

Nov. 4

  • Mexico City’s Day of the Dead Parade

Nov. 6 

  • Iraq provincial election

Nov. 7

  • Gubernatorial elections in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi

Nov. 9

  • First round of Madagascar presidential election

Nov. 11-17 

Nov. 14 

  • Provincial election in Northwest Territories, Canada
  • APEC Ministerial Meeting

Nov. 18-24 

Nov. 19

  • Argentina presidential runoff
  • 110th Grey Cup in Hamilton, Ontario
  • 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands

Nov. 22

  • Netherlands elections
  • UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivers autumn statement

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