Women in charge

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 1 Feb 2022

Mohamed Salmawy indulges in a little foresight

What will the world’s political map look like a few years from now? It is important to think about the future, whose features have been showing recently. That is because its various elements will make an impact on our lives which we should be ready to deal with once the main players on the global stage have changed. Now that all predictions suggest Joe Biden will not win a second term even if nominated, who will succeed him as US president? When the scandals dogging Boris Johnson eventually drive him out of 10 Downing Street, who will succeed him as British PM? Who will be the strongest contender against Macron in the French presidential elections next April? 

In almost every one of those cases the figures likely to replace the incumbents are women. Of these the first in line is Valérie Pécresse, 55, who will be competing for residence of the Élysée Palace within weeks. The Egyptian press has hardly mentioned Pécresse even though she has been rising to prominence. Last December she won the nomination of the right-wing party to which  De Gaulle, Pompidou and Chirac all belong, Les Républicains’ nomination, having been a National Assembly member, a minister (of higher education and research and the ministry of the budget) and a government spokesperson. While the far right headed by Marine Le Pen was Macron’s principal competitor in the previous presidential elections, Pécresse came ahead of any other right candidate in recent polls. It is expected that the far right will not be entering the runoffs with its votes divided between Le Pen and the even more extreme candidate Éric Zemmour, who is of Algerian Jewish descent. It was recently noted that, in attempt to win far-right votes, Pécresse expressed some hard-line views against crime in the Arab-majority Paris suburbs. 

As for the current American president, the prevalent expectation is that he will not run for a second  term, not only because of his age – he will be over 80 in 2024, the oldest president in American history – but also because of his shaky political performance and his administration’s failure to deal effectively with Covid-19. But given that the American public is likely to remain in favour of the Democratic Party for fear of Trump returning to the White House, who might be the Democratic nominee? The Washington Post recently published a list of the candidates the Democrats will be electing in their next party conference – and a good half of the names are women’s. The first is Kamala Harris, the vice president, a woman of Indian descent, and it is something of a Democratic tradition to nominate the vice president in the next presidential election as was the case with Walter Mondale in 1984, Al Gore in 2000 and Joe Biden in 2020. Pete Buttigieg, the current secretary of transportation, is followed by Senators Elisabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, then the Governor of North Carolina Roy Cooper and the Senator Cory Booker. Possible nominees also include two other women, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will have reached the minimum age of 35 by election date, and Stacey Abrams, the candidate for the Georgia Governor elections this year. 

Finally, in Britain, the strongest candidate for succeeding Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who topped the polls as the one person the public opinion agrees on. If these expectations are true, will women rule three of the biggest countries in the world in the next period? Will the world be a better place or will they follow in the footsteps of the men who preceded them?

*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 February, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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