1: Boris Johnson's future and the Tory leadership
We start the New Year laser-focused on the same topic with which we ended 2021. Can Boris Johnson survive the year as Conservative Party leader and, if not, who will replace him?
I must reiterate my long-held view that he won't and am continually adding to what has become a big position. I am amazed that Johnson's odds to go in 2022 have drifted to 2.8615/8 since the Lib Dems handed the Tories a stunning thrashing in the North Shropshire by-election. Laying 2.35/4 about him surviving until 2024 also strongly appeals.
My view is Johnson will resign around May, after tax, NI and energy price rises contribute towards a disastrous set of local election results. The summer will then be dominated by the Tory leadership contest. The Betfair market currently points towards Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss as the principal contenders, at odds of 3.814/5 and 5.14/1.
2: Will Macron win a second term?
The biggest national election of 2022 is in France, for which Emmanuel Macron is a solid favourite to win a second term, at odds of 1.68/13. However those odds could fluctuate dramatically depending on how the opposition sorts itself out.
French elections are a two-stage process. A wide first round field is whittled down to a match-up, with the top-two going through to a run-off. In 2017 Macron trounced Marine Le Pen 66-34 in that run-off, as the French electorate predictably united against the far-right candidate, just as they did against her father in 2002.
Le Pen may well be Macron's opponent again but the far-right is split this time, with Eric Zemmour taking even more extreme positions. That could open the door for the Republican candidate Valerie Pecresse or even somebody from the Left. Assuming he makes the final-two - a 1.171/6 chance - Macron would be extremely short if pitched against either far-right candidate. Pecresse, however, would be a much tougher proposition.
3: Biden staring at mid-term disaster
November sees a wide range of betting heats in the USA, with elections for Congress and various Governors races. Historically these 'mid-terms' are bad for the party holding the White House and the early signals are grim for Joe Biden.
Biden's approval ratings have fallen sharply, as inflation hits the US economy and some of his agenda stalls in Congress. Democrats suffered a devastating reverse in the Virginia Governor's race. Amid that climate, the Republicans have been gambled down to just 1.152/13 to win the House of Representatives and 1.444/9 for a majority in the Senate.
Besides all the margin and specific state betting opportunities, watch for their impact on the 2024 US Presidential Election. Losing Congress would ruin Biden's legislative agenda and speculation will doubtless rise about him opting out of running again. Donald Trump, meanwhile, would likely confirm his candidacy. The former president is currently favourite for 2024, at odds of 4.57/2.
4: Divisive contest in Hungary looks tight
Trump intervened in a European election this week, endorsing Hungarian PM Viktor Orban for their contest, which will take place in either April or May. This race will make big international news and it looks an exciting betting heat to boot.
Orban is widely accused of being an authoritarian demagogue, or even a fascist. He has curtailed civil liberties, freedom of press, undermined the courts and rigged electoral laws. The society has become bitterly divided and, extraordinarily, the opposition parties have now formed a diverse coalition named 'United for Hungary', led by a Conservative candidate in Peter Zarki-May.
Polls have been all over the place, with each side recording leads, and there will be doubts understandably cast regarding their accuracy. Orban starts hot favourite but an upset is not out of the question.
5: Can Labor land the odds in Australia this time?
In many respects, Australian politics mirrors the British and American scenes. Their Federal elections are normally very close and the next is scheduled for May 21st at the latest. The realistic choice is between a Liberal-led coalition and Labor. Note the 'Liberal' Party in Australian politics equates to 'Conservative' - they are the Right and Labor the Left.
This market has flipped in recent months, as Labor have moved ahead in the polls. They're now favourites at 1.684/6 compared to 2.486/4 for the Coalition. However the polls overstated Labor in 2019 and the effect was a rare defeat for a general election favourite. Australia may have their own version of the 'Shy Trump Voter' theory.
6: Will Lula make a triumphant return in Brazil?
Two decades after first being elected as Brazilian president and five years after being convicted for corruption, Lula da Silva is back. The convictions have since been annulled on the grounds that the charges were politically biased. The judge responsible, Sergio Moro, is a likely opponent and available to back at 8.415/2.
Polls show Lula close to the 50% required for a first-round victory. His likeliest opponent in a second round is incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, whose presidency is beset by rampant inflation and shocking Covid management. I've been building a position at an average of 1.855/6 for Lula to become President after the 2022 Election scheduled for October 2nd and reckon 1.75/7 is still too big.
The greatest threat is that the right-wing will try to deny the result and violence will ensue. However Lula will almost certainly gain the critical support of major foreign governments.