With just three seats to spare, it’s probable that the Democrats will lose control of the Senate, even if they pick up seats in Massachusetts and Nevada.
5. Alison Redford will win in Alberta
Yes, yes. Predicting a Progressive Conservative government in Alberta is as boring as predicting the sun will rise tomorrow. But it is less of a certainty than usual.
There are obvious challenges before Redford, not the least of which is the Wildrose Party. As the most credible threat from the right since the Western Canadian Concept ran on its quasi-separatist platform in 1982, Wildrose presents to the PCs the challenge of fighting on two flanks. However, the splintering of the opposition to their left between the Liberals, NDP and Alberta parties leaves the PCs with the ability to fearmonger in the cities against the Wildrose while holding the middle ground.
Expect some losses in rural Alberta, but the PCs maintaining enough strength in Edmonton and Calgary to hold the government. Their strategy of securing a lead among women voters is smart and should pay dividends.
6. Quebeckers rally to the CAQ
Quebec politics routinely makes a monkey out of pundits, and this coming year has all the simian signs. But here goes anyway.
Earlier in December, I thought Jean Charest would call a snap election in 2012. The threat to the Liberals has moved from the exhausted PQ to the Coalition-Avenir-Quebec. As a new party, the CAQ lacked the grassroots and organization to contest an election next year, so the opportunity was present to rush to the polls. This is a similar tactic to what Jean Chretien did in 2000 when faced by the new Canadian Alliance Party, and it resulted in an increased majority. The looming public inquiry into corruption in the fall provided extra ammunition for this theory.
However, the merger with the ADQ announced in December addresses the grassroots challenge for the CAQ, and provides a base of experienced campaign professionals and organizers on which to rely. And their message of ignoring the Constitutional babble in favour of a focus on the economy and services has real purchase in a province simply sick of forty years of endless debate. The breakthrough of the NDP federally shows that Quebec is looking for something new. This risk of going early just became too great, and now Charest will wait for the CAQ to make mistakes.
With the ADQ merger underway, the PQ tired and demoralized, and the Liberals under siege from corruption charges, CAQ’s new formula will have it well ahead in the polls in 2012, but not going to the hustings until 2013.
7. Europe muddles through
Last year, when I made my predictions for 2011, there was some criticism for ignoring the European bond crisis. The truth is I simply had no idea what would happen. This year, I feel more confident saying that the sky will not fall, Europe will not collapse and the largest economy in the world, the European Union, will muddle through.
The European Central Bank has restored confidence in lenders, at least enough confidence that they will keep lending. At the same time, the technocrat leadership of Mario Monti lowered the likelihood of Italian default, taking down Europe with it. Most importantly, there are enough vested interests agreed to keeping the casino running that the bumps along the way will sort themselves out. There are a myriad of tough decisions to be made as European countries dig themselves out of debt over the next decade, but the specter of a full-scale systemic collapse is quietly passing into the specter of individual country collapses.
8. Media moves from the mainstream
Back in the 1960s and even into the 1990s, people got their news from the same places. Most watched the evening news, a daily newspaper and radio. There was some minor differentiation in newspapers and radio, with some carrying opinion and editorials to the right or the left, but the news tended to carry objective pieces.