THE OBSERVER

The new 20s

What will the 20s bring? Will they be the roaring 20s? The happy 20s? The terrible 20s? Obviously we don’t know and luckily the future can’t be foretold, it must be built. The future is a clay figure that has not yet been fully formed and in which our actions, unpredictable events and pre-existing conditions come together, like sediments which are laid down almost imperceptibly. A combination of what we can see coming, our abilities and unforeseen circumstances will build a year that will usher in a new decade.

THE WORLD. Two events are set to mark the coming year at the global level and another great challenge will define the decade. In the long term, our ability to change our society in order to engage in the fight against climate change will provide us with a more civilized way of life. It will be about consuming consciously, in terms of energy and food, in order that we minimize our footprint on the environment. Will we manage it? It looks like we don't take the issue very seriously, but in March we will see if Europe is capable of passing the first law in its transition to climate neutrality, which will need to have an effect on emissions, transport prices and clean energy. A major problem is the lack of urgency felt by politicians and CEOs, who are the ones who can make truly transformative decisions. Of the top 200 western companies which publish emissions data, the top 20 are responsible for 70% of those emissions.

The other major international issues in 2020 will depend on Donald Trump's leadership: developments in international trade and the global economy and his enormous potential to destabilize the Middle East. For now, impeachment is in the air, and the Democrats have yet to decide who will be the best candidate to stand against him in the 3 November election. If it will be Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator; a more moderate candidate, like former Vice President Joe Biden; or a surprise newcomer such as Pete Buttigieg, the young Indiana mayor who served in Afghanistan.

The campaign will bring surprises if Trump gives his testosterone a free rein on the international stage, whether it be due to the consequences of the US pulling out of a nuclear deal with Iran, for having abandoned Syria to Turkey and Russia's ambitions, or his policy of uncritical support for Israel.

EUROPE. We are highly likely to see the UK leave the EU and a strengthening of Ireland and Scotland’s centrifugal ambitions. It seems reasonable to wish those who are leaving the best of luck, but not in excess. Viewed from space, Europe still appears to be an oasis, in spite of everything. Economically Germany will end the year on the brink of a recession, with the rest of Europe depending on its future. Angela Merkel's succession and France's ability to maintain a degree of leadership will be decisive, while Spain strays deeper into the labyrinth and Italy continues to be bogged down.

CATALONIA AND SPAIN. In Spain, the strategy of judicializing the Catalan political conflict has ended in failure. It has not put an end to independence, it has weakened the separation of powers, and seriously eroded Spain’s democratic credentials. The Spanish state has shown itself to be incapable of democratically managing internal diversity, with the fury of Spanish nationalism dominating the traditional right, and the Supreme Court seriously called into question for having disregarded the political rights of pro-independence candidates and European voters. In the coming months we will find out if Sánchez’s PSOE will win out over the reactionary voices and the forces of unionism and homogenization, and if it is able to begin a new era which seeks to respond to those who seek democratic independence. The first step must be to end the repression, and to oblige a judiciary aligned with a deep state which will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo, to engage in politics -and therefore respond to the will of the electorate.

CATALONIA. Catalan politics is expected to continue to be the most international of domestic affairs for Spain and Europe as a whole. The round of elections won’t come to an end until the Catalan elections, which is when the electorate will provide the political parties with the tools they need to face the future. ERC and JxCat are bound to come to an understanding over independence, while the liberal centre is seeking to rebuild itself after Convergència was devastated. New leaders are emerging, claiming a role apart from Carles Puigdemont and his continuing electoral potential. In 2020 we will most likely see an election with renewed pro-independence candidates and clear strategies, if JxCat carries out the internal work that it has just begun, while waiting for word from Waterloo.

OUR WORLD will also be filled with unknowns, but we are convinced that we at ARA will continue to support journalism thanks to our subscribers, who are well aware that freedom is not free and who they grant us their confidence on a daily basis. We also know that a few more children will be born, the offspring of this young and passionate team of journalists. Welcome, 2020!

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