Millions of people around the world went to the polls this year. The results provided plenty of surprises. British voters defied the pollsters and voted to leave the European Union. Colombians did much the same in rejecting their government’s peace deal with FARC, though Colombia’s president found a way to complete the deal a few months later without a vote. The biggest electoral surprise of all might have been in the United States, where Donald Trump defied the political experts and defeated Hillary Clinton.
Could 2017 produce similarly surprising results? Here are ten elections to watch.
The Netherlands’s General Election, March 15
Is a “Nexit” in the cards? Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders has vowed to withdraw the Netherlands from the EU should his far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) win the March elections. Wilders just might get the chance to make good on his promise. The PVV has surged in the polls recently, and is now running ahead of the party of the current Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte. The PVV is gaining because Wilders adroitly used his just-concluded trial for hate speech—he was convicted but not punished on the lesser charge of inciting discrimination for saying he wanted to see fewer Moroccan immigrants—to portray himself as a defender of free speech and a victim of political correctness run amok. (Wilders made his name in Dutch politics with anti-Islam, anti-immigration stances. He has proposed outlawing the Koran, placing a tax on headscarves, and banning the construction of mosques.) But the race has been neck and neck, with the lead changing frequently. Should the PVV maintain its lead, other Dutch parties will likely try to form a coalition government that shuts Wilders out of power. That could leave the Netherlands with a shaky and immobilized political leadership at a time when the EU faces major challenges.