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If You Think 2016 Has Been Weird, Here Are 9 Political Shocks That No Longer Seem Impossible In 2017

Corbyn as PM, the rising Right across Europe, and 'draining the swamp'.

14/11/2016 17:04 | Updated 14 November 2016

Across the world 2016 has been a year of unprecedented political turmoil.

Donald Trump’s surprise victory last week represented the latest sign that the bedrock of politics is being shaken.

But Trump’s win has given new impetus to the feeling of total uncertainty in politics, which has Britain’s closest ally of the president-elect, Nigel Farage, warning 2017 may “surprise us as much as 2016”.

Farage also heralded the shock election as marking the end of a period where “big business and big politics control our lives”. 

“Today, the establishment is in deep shock. Even more so than after Brexit. What we are witnessing is the end of a period of big business and big politics controlling our lives,” Farage said.

After a weekend that also saw Marine Le Pen interviewed by Andrew Marr a day after Farage posed up with the future US president in a gold-plated elevator, here are nine potential political shocks that no longer seem impossible in 2017:

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1. Scotland Could Become Independent

Calls for a second Scottish independence referendum have grown louder since June’s EU referendum.

Brexit has given campaigners for an independent Scotland an opportunity to strengthen their case in the knowledge that the majority of Scottish voters chose to Remain in the EU.

Scotland voted in favour of the UK staying in the bloc by 62% to 38%, compared with 48% and 52% overall.

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has reportedly used Brexit negotiations to threaten a second independence poll

The Scottish government is already consulting on a second referendum bill - and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said a second poll was “highly likely”.

And just last week, Sturgeon revealed her top law officer would be intervening in the UK government’s appeal at the Supreme Court to allow Brexit to occur without the advice or consent of the Westminster Parliament.

The Scottish government’s intervention means judges will need to consider if a case can be made for the Holyrood Scottish Parliament to be consulted over Brexit too.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Theresa May (left) and Nicola Sturgeon have spoken about Brexit and its effect on Scotland

And if Sturgeon is successful in making the case for a second referendum on independence, it is not inconceivable that this might take place in tandem with the UK triggering Article 50 - the formal process to leave the EU.

If this were to happen, a second referendum could take place as early as autumn/winter 2017.

However support may need to increase before one is held. A YouGov poll published a week after the Brexit vote showed most Scots still backed remaining in the United Kingdom, by 53 to 47 percent.

Rui Vieira/PA Archive

2. There Could Be Another UK General Election

The odds of a UK general election in 2017 have been slashed by bookmakers Ladbrokes.

While Theresa May has ruled out a fresh poll before 2020, she may well change her mind if the government loses its Supreme Court bid to stop Article 50 needing Parliamentary consent.

To save months of wrangling and concessions, the prime minister could use an election as a de-facto referendum on the process.

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Will Theresa May jump early in 2017?

While pollsters aren’t exactly in favour of the month at the moment, the most recent (.xls) puts May’s Conservatives on track to secure 40% of the vote if the election were to be held tomorrow - an eight point lead over Labour.

Yet despite the odds, there are plentiful reasons why May won’t go to the polls in 2017.

As HuffPost’s Martha Gill found, a simple lack of candidates means the Conservatives don’t have the ability to fight a general election at short notice.

And upcoming boundary changes mean any election after 2018 would further favour the Tories.

Nick Ansell/PA Wire

3. Jeremy Corbyn Could Even Become PM

After Brexit and Trump pollsters have been badly damaged, with their surveys appearing unable to accurately gauge political opinion like never before.

So the latest national poll giving Theresa May’s Conservatives an eight point lead nationally mean little to supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn’s ability to draw a crowd has striking similarities to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.

Under Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has become the biggest party in terms of membership in the UK and by some measures western Europe.

There’s a sense that, after 2016 - there’s everything to play for - with many of Corbyn’s backers believing Trump’s stunning upset could be a silver lining for the Labour leader.  

4. Le Pen Could Become Le President

An appearance by Marine Le Pen on the Andrew Marr show is the latest sign France’s far-right leader is gaining mainstream acceptance.

After Trump’s unexpected win, Le Pen said she hopes French voters will vote for her in next year’s presidential election: “It shows that when the people really want something, they can get it.

“When the people want to retake their destiny in hand, they can do it, despite this ceaseless campaign of denigration and infantilization.” 

Christophe Morin/IP3 via Getty Images
Marine Le Pen at a rally in September 2016

As of November 2016, opinion polls showed Le Pen likely to win the first round of voting next April, but lose the runoff in May to whoever should be her opponent, Reuters reported.

Like Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and Germany’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), Le Pen’s National Front has a protectionist economic policies combined with a zero tolerance on law and order.

Le Pen herself has been credited with updating the language of the party, though many criticise her project as merely covering xenophobic policies.

While France’s electoral run-off system may work against her, Le Pen could be French President as soon as April next year.

REMKO DE WAAL via Getty Images
Dutch populist far-right Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders

5. The Far-Right Could Win Big In The Netherlands

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom appears on track for success at next year’s general election.

Wilders said after Trump’s shock win: “Politics will never be the same again. What happened in America can happen in Europe and the Netherlands as well.”

Some recent polls place the Party for Freedom neck-and-neck with the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). If Wilders was to replicate this success at the ballot box, his party would likely form a coalition government - as it did in 2010. 

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Sympathizers of right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders protest in 2010

According to the party’s previous policy document (PDF), it supports the prohibition of Islamic and kosher slaughter, the closure of Islamic schools and even taxes on (or the banning) of Islamic headscarves.

The Party for Freedom has also advocated leaving the EU, abandoning the Euro currency and an ending support for green technologies.

Wilders’ is currently on trial for hate speech after suggesting the country was home to too many Moroccans.

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
Frauke Petry, chairwoman of Alternative for Germany (AFD) addresses supporters during a rally

6. The Right Could Rise In Germany

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which ran on an anti-immigrant platform, has won not inconsiderable vote shares in regional elections.

It has had particular success in harnessing anti-migrant feelings among native Germans concerned by the near one million migrants who have arrived in the past few years.

In September, the AfD won 12.5 percent in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, 15 percent in Baden-Württemberg, and 24 percent in Saxony-Anhalt.

Carsten Koall via Getty Images
Supporters of the AfD march in Berlin in 2015

But the party is unlikely to secure a majority in the German parliament at next year’s election - but could come to power as part of a coalition.

Dr Carsten Koschmieder, an expert on the AfD at the Free University in Berlin, told The Local: “[Winning a majority is] not realistic due to Germany’s electoral system.

“The AfD have no chance of winning an absolute majority. That means they would have to build a coalition.”

Yet the AfD appears buoyed by the recent electoral success of Trump - with many of the president-elect’s policies touted policies chiming with those held by the AfD.

Shortly after Trump’s win, AfD leader Frauke Petry tweeted to say “this night changes the USA, Europe and the world”.

The party has echoed the messages of the controversial anti-immigration Pegida movement, presenting Islam as inherently ‘anti-German’.

The AfD is also anti-Euro, having formed in 2013 on an anti-bailout platform.

The next election is in October 2017.

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President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania walks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill in Washington last week

7. Trump’s Policies Will Become Reality

After 20 January 2017, President Donald J. Trump will unveil his priorities for the crucial first 100 days in the White House.

He has already reiterated his plans for a wall separating America and Mexico, but other policies touted on the campaign trail may come into reality next year.

These could include:

JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
Nigel Farage and Ukip donor Arron Banks

8. Arron Banks ‘Drains The Westminster Swamp’

Friend of Nigel Farage and millionaire Ukip donor Arron Banks has announced he’s planning to “drain the swap” on this side of the Atlantic by targeting and ousting “corrupt” MPs.

Echoing the slogan of billionaire Trump, Banks said he was considering ditching the party he currently funds and using the money to finance “anti-establishment” candidates being stood against hundreds of MPs. 

Banks said he wanted to harness the potential behind Brexit and Trump’s shock victory in the States to overhaul politics in his home country.

A graphic posted from the campaign’s Twitter he ran during the EU referendum depicted Remain-backers Labour MP David Lammy, former Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg and ex-Conservative minister Anna Soubry as potential targets. 

They were seen crudely cut out floating in a turquoise liquid in the House of Commons.

Banks said: “It’s a very simple agenda: to destroy the professional politician. I like the idea of clearing the place out, setting new rules, maybe reducing the number of MPs. Not a party from the left or right. Just to clear out the worst lot.”

After Trump’s success, who’s to say a millionaire on this side of the Atlantic couldn’t also succeed with his own crude form of populism. 

Ian West/PA Wire

9. Oh, And There Might Not Be A ‘Bake Off’

And while the political shocks could make for grim times in 2017, Brits might well be left bereft by a total lack of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ next year.

The BBC lost the programme to rivals Channel 4 and is still to decide whether to impose a condition which means ‘Bake Off’s’ makers Love Productions can’t air the show until 2018.

There seems little reason for the Beeb to forgo the condition - and it’s already started production on a Mary Berry spin off to make the most of the gap in the schedule.

Given everything that might happen next year, we’ll miss the distraction of soggy bottoms.

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