2012 promises to be, both in Ireland and elsewhere, another year of high drama, and that’s assuming that it’s not the end of the world.
1. The US Presidential Election. I still expect Pres. Obama to be defeated, which will be sad, but an indication of the way the US is heading. There will be people without two cents to rub together who will either not bother voting, or vote for a Republican to give a tax cut to billionaires and cut unemployment aid to people who can’t find work. I’m on the right, but even for me, that’s throw hands in the air and walk away time.
2. The EU referendum in Ireland will not be as dramatic as expected, because it doesn’t really matter whether it passes or not, as Irish ratification is not required to implement it. If the Irish choose to exclude themselves from the room, that’s our business, and no one else will really care, as we are obeying most of the Fiscal Compact rules through our IMF deal already.
3. Will the eurozone stay the same? Everything hinges on Greece, but even if Greece defaults on pretty much all her debts, which she would have to if she quit the euro, as they would multiply in cost against the new drachma, it still doesn’t make much sense. Tourism costs will drop, but will rise again as energy and imported food and consumer goods rise feed through. Devaluation is a short term gimmick that counts for nothing if a country does not deal with competitive issues, and the Greek government knows this.
4. Ireland potentially faces two referendums (referenda?) on Children’s Rights and abolition of the Senate. If the Children’s Rights one turns into a ban on smacking, it will go down. The Senate campaign will be more interesting, assuming Enda doesn’t give in to his backbenchers and kick it into the Constitutional Convention. Having said that, I can see the argument against leaving the Dail to its own devices gaining some traction. Could the Irish people vote to keep the Seanad? Potentially, yes.
5. The Constitutional Convention will begin work on rewriting Ireland’s 1937 constitution. I should be excited by this, but I remain deeply cynical, for the reasons stated here.
6. Finally, will Sarko survive April/May’s French presidential election? Run off polls currently put him losing to the Socialists’s Hollande by 20%. Interestingly, Hollande beats Le Pen by 76%, yet Sarko only beats her by 63%, which means that there’s a substantial number of people out there who just plain hate Sarko’s guts. Imagine that!