Americas: Libertarian Milei leads polls ahead of Argentina’s 22 October presidential vote
Key Risks: policy and regulatory uncertainty; political instability; civil unrest; economic
In Argentina, voters will head to the polls on 22 October in the most uncertain presidential race in the country’s recent history. The last polls to be released ahead of the vote showed that far-right libertarian Javier Milei is set to win the first round, with a runoff vote increasingly likely on 19 November. All surveys showed that centre-left Economy Minister Sergio Massa would secure the second place, with centre-right Patricia Bullrich from the opposition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) coalition likely to come in third. Although a second round between Milei and Massa appears to be the most likely scenario, a Milei-Bulllrich runoff cannot be entirely ruled out. Regardless of who secures the presidency, the next administration – scheduled to take office on 10 December – will face heightened civil unrest and governability risks amid the worst economic and financial crisis in decades.
Asia Pacific: New Zealand’s National Party poised to form government after election win
Key Risks: political instability; policy continuity
In New Zealand, on 14 October voters rejected a third term for the ruling Labour Party after six years in power, delivering a win for the opposition National Party. Nationals leader Christopher Luxon – a former business executive and first-term MP – has been designated Prime Minister-elect as he is expected to form a coalition government with the libertarian ACT Party – which together secured a one-seat parliamentary majority. Nonetheless, talks on support from the populist New Zealand First (NZ First) party are likely, potentially further bolstering the right bloc’s majority. Labour lost half of its support compared to its landslide win in the 2020 general election under then-leader Jacinda Ardern. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins – who only took office after Ardern’s shock resignation in January – has struggled with growing public dissatisfaction over a cost-of-living crisis which likely contributed to their defeat.
Eurasia: US Secretary of State reportedly warns of Azerbaijan’s potential invasion of Armenia
Key Risks: war on land
On 13 October reports emerged indicating that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had warned a group of lawmakers of a possibility that Azerbaijan would invade southern Armenia in the coming weeks. The reports came after Baku launched an assault on the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh on 19 September, prompting over 100,000 ethnic Armenians to leave. The quick offensive raised concerns that the conflict would spill over into Armenia as Baku seeks to establish the Zangezur Corridor – a route connecting Azerbaijan with Nakhchivan exclave through Armenia’s territory. There have been long-lasting disputes between Baku and Yerevan over the corridor and Baku has previously threatened to use force to establish it. While on 10 October Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan downplayed the risk of invasion – claiming that it was “extremely low” – this risk will remain elevated for the foreseeable future.
Europe: Opposition parties likely to form government following general elections in Poland
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest
In Poland, on 15 October exit polls following the general elections suggested that the opposition – consisting of the Civic Coalition (KO), the Third Way party and the Left – had secured sufficient votes to form a coalition government with a majority. According to the polls, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party won the election, securing 36.6 per cent of the votes, but failed to secure enough seats to have a majority in parliament. With over 70 per cent of the votes counted, the preliminary results appeared to confirm the exit polls. Official results are expected to be announced later on 16 or early on 17 October. President Andrzej Duda will likely first appoint PiS to form a government, despite the party having low chances of forming it with a majority. This will likely protract the government forming process at least until late-November.
MENA: Israeli forces gear up for ground invasion of Gaza
Key risks: internal conflict; political violence
In Israel, on 15 October reports indicated that tens of thousands of Israeli troops, hundreds of armoured vehicles and tanks were being gathered on the northern Gaza border ahead of an expected ground invasion. Although Israeli authorities have yet to disclose a timeline for the invasion, the troop build-up suggests an imminent launch. Israeli special forces have already made limited entries into Gaza and have recovered some of the bodies of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Up to 150 hostages are believed to be held in Gaza. Since the fighting began, at least 1,300 Israelis were killed and 3,300 others injured, while around 2,450 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation. The ground invasion is likely to set off heavy fighting on the ground between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, which remain deeply entrenched in Gaza.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Liberians await results of tightly contested presidential election
Key Risks: political stability
In Liberia, on 10 October presidential and parliamentary elections in which President George Weah ran to be re-elected for a second six-year term took place. Preliminary results showed that the vote is a two-horse race between Weah and his main rival, former deputy president Joseph Boakai. Weah’s popularity has waned in recent years as critics claim that corruption has worsened under his administration. Critics have also highlighted his perceived economic mismanagement, pointing to the cost-of-living crisis which led to violent protests in June 2022. The National Elections Commission of Liberia has 15 days from the day of voting to announce the results. A runoff will be held on 7 November if neither candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the vote. Given the lack of a third prominent candidate to split the vote, a runoff seems unlikely.