The year 2016 was a rough one. Among the global lowlights are Donald Trump, Brexit, the Syrian Civil War, as well as terror attacks in Istanbul, Brussels, Paris and Berlin. If that were not enough, there was the Zika virus and the Panama papers, as well as the deaths of Prince, David Bowie and Muhammed Ali.
I would love to believe that will get a whole lot better in 2017, but Trump, Brexit, and Zika are not going anywhere and elections in France, The Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic may hold surprises of their own. Still, it would be a shame to start the New Year with an entirely negative outlook, so here are some positive predictions for 2017:
Angela Merkel wins the German election, and Francois Fillon wins in France. Amid a rising populist tide, voters in the European Union’s two largest countries remain stable. Those victories do not necessarily indicate that the mass backlash against mainstream politics is over (it isn’t), but complete disaster — and the possible breakup of the EU —is averted at least another year.
The Syrian war ends. Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad are now touting their own cease fire proposal, but instead it is the general weakening of ISIS and the overall fatigue of the warring parties that really ends things. The related flow of refugees from the Middle East toward Europe also slows down.
Robert Kaliňák is forced out as interior minister. With the ruling Smer party’s approval ratings continuing to fall, Prime Minister Robert Fico will be forced to finally take action. It won’t halt the party’s decline, and the public will see it for exactly what it is: an act of political calculation rather than a moral stand against corruption. Kaliňák loses his job but keeps his 1990-style haircut.
Marian Kotleba is defeated in the regional elections. Though his party will remain a player on the national scene, especially amid the general chaos resulting from Smer’s decline, the people of Banska Bystrica decide they like when Brussels helps pay to fix roads, and improve schools. They are already tired of skinhead punks playacting as police.
Žilina’s football club reaches the Champions League. With a hefty lead over their domestic competition, the Žilinskí Šošoni will get a chance to cheer their team against some of Europe’s biggest clubs after the team winning qualifiers in late summer.
In other hair news, the truth about Donald Trump emerges. After doing a poor job calling out lies during the 2016 campaign, the Washington press exposes the biggest scandal in the history of the White House. Not only is Trump’s hair not his own but it is not even human. In fact, it is shaved badger fur died orange and woven into a wig. Worse yet, the wig is made in Mexico.
This text was originally written for the Sme daily.