1. Changing European Leadership
In 2022, key European allies will experience leadership changes that will reverberate across the Atlantic. Social democrat Olaf Scholz succeeded longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel and formed a three-party coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, and the Greens. Annalena Baerbock from the Greens is set to become Germany’s first female foreign minister and has hinted at a break with Merkel’s soft China policy. Meanwhile, France is due for presidential elections in April 2022, with concerns that diminished support for current President Emmanuel Macron might lead to the rise of a far-right leaning candidate Eric Zemmour, which could have profound implications for U.S. cooperation on security issues, specifically through NATO. Elections are also set to be held in Sweden, Slovenia, and Hungary. Even Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, could face significant competition for the first time since he rose to power in 2010. Longtime partnerships will be tested by this change in leadership and will present both challenges and opportunities for U.S. policymakers.