A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
All eyes will be on Wisconsin next week as it holds a judicial election on Tuesday (April 4) to fill a single seat on the state’s Supreme Court. Majority control of the seven-member court is at stake, with conservatives at risk of losing their advantage for the first time in 15 years if liberal Milwaukee County judge Janet Protasiewicz can defeat conservative former Supreme Court justice Daniel Kelly. The race has attracted unprecedented levels of spending on TV ads, a clear indicator of the importance being attached to the race by Democrats and Republicans alike. Wisconsin’s status as a swing state and the potential role of the court in determining election challenges aside, the outcome of the race is being viewed as critical to women’s rights to access abortions in the wake of Dobbs – the newly-elected member of the court is expected to be involved in ruling whether an 1849 abortion ban that came into force following Dobbs is enforceable.
Tuesday’s runoff in Chicago’s mayoral election, in contrast, is a purely Democratic affair. With incumbent Lori Lightfoot eliminated in the February open primary, the two remaining candidates are former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas and former teacher and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Vallas represents the centrist wing of the party, and has the backing of moderates such as Senator Dick Durbin, while Johnson, overtly progressive, is supported by the likes of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The outcome of the vote in America’s third largest city is therefore likely to have national implications as it exposes rifts between the different visions within the Democratic Party as 2024 comes into focus.
Of course all of this is likely to be overshadowed by Donald Trump, who yesterday became the first former US president to face criminal charges when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed he had been indicted. Trump is expected to surrender to authorities in New York on Tuesday (April 4), when he will be fingerprinted, photographed, and appear in a Manhattan court. Trump’s reaction to news of the indictment on Thursday – releasing a statement accusing Bragg of election interference and of ‘doing Joe Biden’s dirty work’ – gives a flavor of the mayhem that is about to unfold.
French President Emmanuel Macron begins a four-day visit to China on Wednesday (April 5), where he will be joined by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for a trilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday (April 6). The two European leaders are expected to reiterate calls for China to go no further in supporting Russia over Ukraine following Xi’s visit to Moscow, with von der Leyen warning in a hawkish speech yesterday that the future of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) could be at stake over China’s approach to the conflict. Their trip follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s AP interview this week in which he said he had not been in contact with Xi for over a year but would welcome a visit. Xi had been expected to speak with Zelenskyy shortly after his trip to Moscow, though that call does not appear to have materialized.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, will host his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko for talks on Thursday (April 6) in what will be their first in-person encounter since Putin announced he planned to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, ostensibly in response to Britain’s announcement that it would send Ukraine armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium. Ukraine denounced Putin’s announcement as ‘nuclear blackmail’ and called for an urgent UN Security Council session, which takes place today, though US officials have expressed scepticism about the planned deployment. In any case, the meeting between the Russian and Belarusian leaders is likely to be closely watched in Western capitals for further details regarding future military cooperation between Minsk and Moscow, particularly following today’s suggestion from Lukashenko that Belarus could host Russian strategic nuclear weapons as well.