A week that is full of headline-grabbing, world-changing events begins at a leisurely pace on Monday with all the pomp and ceremony of a royal visit down under. For the ongoing celebrations of his mother’s Diamond Jubilee, the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, touches down for a five day tour of Australia. The couple, who were bid farewell by Australia’s own royalty, will travel to events across the country, stopping off for a spot of racing at the Melbourne Cup along the way.
Back in Europe, austerity in the EU crisis’ poster-child will once come to the fore. Greek union ADEDY has called for protests at all government departments on the same day that politicians start to negotiate with the troika of international lenders over the latest three-year reform package. Lawmakers on the left are adamant they won’t accept the terms of the bailout money, but the prosperity of the eurozone depends on the country’s ability to thrash out an agreement. A vote on the bill is due on November 11.
As the politicians debate inside the Hellenic Parliament, the clamour outside will surely reach fever pitch as Tuesday sees the start of a 48-hour general strike by workers across the country. Look out for the obligatory images of angry mobs and petrol bombs, and, as the gutters fill with water from police cannons, expect sweat to line the politicians’ collars.
The civil retrial of Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly, the men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing, begins in Northern Ireland on Tuesday. In 1998 the Real IRA set off a car bomb that killed 29 people, and in 2009 the relatives of the victims won a landmark case that found four men guilty of the attack, with Murphy and Daly later having appeals upheld. Particularly poignant amid newfound fears that the region has returned to sectarian violence, the trial is expected to last six weeks.
Then, at long last, the world’s most drawn-out campaign reaches its conclusion: on Tuesday night the United States decides on who its next president will be. There have been misleading adverts and baby-kissing , fluffed debates and damaging quotations, but it all comes together when citizens and Senators alike cast their votes next week. Will Superstorm Sandy have given Obama the advantage, allowing him to look presidential and statesman-like, or will the bad weather be Romney’s secret weapon? Let’s face it, nobody knows, but this little girl is unlikely to be the only one breathing a sigh of relief when it’s all over.
If you can get yourself out of bed after the late-night excitement of the night before, Wednesday has a decidedly European flavour to it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to address MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The European Parliament president Martin Schultz will be there, but a lot of the focus may be on David Cameron, who is expected to meet Merkel the same day following last week's vote of no confidence by rebel MPs. On the same day, a short drive away in Brussels, the European Commission is publishing its economic forecast for all 27 countries over the next two years. The eurozone hit record unemployment last month and across the continent people will be hoping that this forecast offers a glimmer of hope.
If the presidential election of the world’s largest economy didn’t satisfy your appetite, the appointment of its rival/main financial crutch just might. On Thursday, China holds its most significant gathering in a decade where the next generation of leaders are announced. It’s widely expected that the country’s vice president Xi Jinping will succeed Hu Jintao, with the other eight members of the Communist Party’s leadership committee also set to be revealed.
This week also sees the return to the fore of tabloid-favourite Andrew Mitchell, but this time he’s discussing affairs that make ‘plebgate’ seem like playground gossip. Before his incarnation as Conservative chief whip, Mitchell was the UK’s International Development Secretary and on Thursday he’s set to answer questions from the International Development Committee of MPs about DfID’s decision to withold, and subsequently disburse, financial aid to the Government of Rwanda despite allegations of its hand in conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
On Friday, battle lines will begin to be drawn ahead of November’s crucial summit when the ECOFIN Council convenes for its budget meeting, where member states’ finance ministers, together with the European Parliament, decide on the EU’s 100 billion euro budget.
Done with Australia, our royal couple down under hop over to New Zealand on Saturday, having hopefully avoided protests in Papua New Guinea, to continue their Diamond Jubilee tour. Highlights will include a look around the set of the film ‘The Hobbit’, Armistice services in Auckland and the Prince’s birthday on November 14, which will, according to reports, feature a specially-organised partial eclipse of the sun.
In Ireland on the same day, the population votes to approve or reject an amendment to the constitution concerning children’s rights. The proposed new Article would allow the State to take the place of parents in exceptional circumstances and provide for legal adoption where parents have failed their duty. Those campaigning in favour believe the Article will protect vulnerable children, while those against argue that it gives the State too much power.
The week ends where it began, in Greece, where after days of tense negotiations, the members of the Hellenic Parliament vote on Sunday on the 2013 budget a three year reform package agreed with the troika of lenders.
With the Greek streets undoubtedly alive with activity, the UK will be in more solemn mood, with the country bound in collective silence for Remembrance Sunday. The Queen lays a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, where a remembrance service has been held for over nine decades to honour the servicemen and women who have died for their country. Along with the Duke of Edinburgh, she is joined by politicians and members of the military.