2017 was another big year in the world of politics, technological advancement and major global events. The year ahead promises to bring more of the same, with major elections across the world, greater progress in healthcare and big global sporting events. Here are just ten stories to watch out for in 2018.
TRUMP VISITS UK
Donald Trump is expected to visit the UK in February for the first time since becoming President of the United States. Trump will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and open the new US embassy in London. Although the United States and the UK share a ‘special relationship’, don’t expect Brits to welcome President Trump with open arms. Hundreds of thousands of people are anticipated to take to the streets of the capital to protest Trump’s visit, in scenes that could rival the Iraq War protest march in February 2003.
ANOTHER GENERAL ELECTION?
After last year’s UK general election resulted in the Conservatives losing their majority in Parliament, there has been speculation whether another snap election could take place in the near future. With Theresa May relying on a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP to maintain power, many observers suggest that another general election could take place this year – making it the fourth national poll in as many years (with two general elections in 2015 and 2017, and the EU referendum in 2016).
Even if a UK election does not take place, voters will be going to the polls in Italy in March – the result of which will almost certainly have an impact on Brexit negotiations, especially if a right-wing coalition or the anti-establishment and populist Five Star Movement take power.
FAR RIGHT IN RACE TO BRAZILIAN PRESIDENCY
Populists and the far right will also have a shot of winning in the Brazilian presidential elections in October. Polls for the upcoming election show a tight race between left-wing candidate and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro, who has been liked to Donald Trump. Bolsonaro has been accused of sexist and racist remarks, advocates a crackdown on law and order and supports subsidising gun ownership. Should Lula be unable to run for office, as they were sentenced to prison last year for accepting bribes, Bolsonaro could become the favourite to win.
US MID-TERM ELECTIONS
November brings Trump’s biggest political test of his presidency in the form of the mid-term elections. With Trump’s approval ratings at a record low for any president this far into their term, the Democrats are expected to do well. However, will it be enough for the Republicans to lose control of the House of Representatives or the Senate, or even both? Polls suggest they could, but with the election still over 300 days away, it is still somewhat early to say.
GREATER TENSION ON KOREA PENINSULA
If last year was anything to go by, North Korea will also continue to pose a challenge for Donald Trump in the year ahead. Already Kim Jong-Un has provoked the United States by reiterating its willingness to use nuclear weapons if North Korea’s interests are threatened. Given Trump’s unorthodox approach to tensions, it is almost certain that the crisis could deepen, with further missile and potentially even nuclear tests a strong possibility. However, the possibility of a nuclear exchange between the two countries remains low, given that the Kim regime would be obliterated should such a scenario play out.
WINTER OLYMPICS AND WORLD CUP
Whilst North Korea ramps up tension with America, South Korea will be hosting their first Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang – three decades since they hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988. Britain is hoping to improve on its previous haul of medals from Sochi, whilst Russia has been forced to sit these Games out over their continuing doping scandal.
One sporting event Russia won’t be missing, however, is the World Cup this summer, which is being held across the country. England is set to face Belgium, Panama (who are in the competition for the first time) and Tunisia in the Group Stages – however, it is unlikely that they will win the competition. Also debuting alongside Panama is Iceland, following on from their stunning performance in Euro 2016. Italy, however, will be watching from home after shockingly failing to qualify.
CONTRACEPTIVE GEL FOR MEN AND SUGAR TAX
Medical trials in the United States will start later this year for a new kind of contraception for men, in the form of a gel. Once massage onto the arms and shoulders, the gel is absorbed into the skin, into the bloodstream and synthetic hormones block the testes from producing enough testosterone to make normal amounts of sperm. Should the four year trial be successful, we could see this new contraceptive gel hitting the shelves a few years later.
Also in April, the UK’s ‘sugar tax’ will come into force on soft drinks. Drinks with a sugar content of over 5g per 100ml will face a 18p per litre levy, rising to 24p for drinks with over 8g per 100ml.
ROYAL WEDDING AND ROYAL BABY
2018 is set to be another big year for the British royal family, with the Duchess of Cambridge expecting her third child in April. It is currently unknown what the sex of the baby is. Meanwhile, Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle. Markle, an actress and humanitarian from California, will become the first person of mixed-race heritage to marry into the royal family. They are expected to adopt the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex after their marriage on May 19.
SPACEX TO FLY FIRST SPACE TOURISTS AROUND THE MOON
Last year, SpaceX announced plans to send two paying tourists into orbit around the Moon in the latter half of 2018. They will be the first private space tourists, with previous missions never venturing beyond the International Space Station. SpaceX plan on using their Falcon Heavy rocket to get the passengers into space, with a Crew Dragon spacecraft acting as their ‘hotel’ for their week-long out of this world trip. It will be the first time humans have ventured beyond low-earth orbit since the last Apollo mission in 1972. However, SpaceX’s projects have often faced delays and the company has yet to attempt a manned rocket launch – the first is due in the spring of this year. If successful, however, it could start the corporate race into the final frontier.
CENTENARY OF WWI ARMISTICE
In November, the world will look back with great sadness as it marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. Events are being planned to commemorate the centenary throughout the year, with bells throughout Britain set to ring out together on Remembrance Day itself.