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
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Thursday (February 8) in the case stemming from the Colorado Supreme Court’s landmark December ruling that former president Donald Trump should be barred from appearing on ballots over his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. At the heart of the case is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, the until-now obscure provision known as the ‘insurrection clause’ that bars anyone who has taken an oath as an officeholder of the United States and engaged in insurrection from holding public office.
Although a ruling won’t be announced immediately (though it’s likely to come before Super Tuesday on March 5), Supreme Court-watchers can often get a sense of which way key justices are leaning from their line of questioning during arguments. The hearing will coincide with the Republican presidential caucuses in Nevada, where Donald Trump has ended up as the sole remaining candidate after Nikki Haley opted to forego delegates to the Republican National Convention and instead run in the state primary being held on Tuesday (February 6), when Democrats are also holding their presidential primary.
It’s also a busy week on Capitol Hill, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that he plans to file cloture on Monday (February 5) on the yet-to-be-published bipartisan proposal tying together supplemental national security funding with border measures ahead of a first procedural vote planned for Wednesday (February 7). But even if the package is passed by the Senate, it’s unclear how it might get through the House, where arguments about the stakes at play – particularly when it comes to Ukraine – appear to be increasingly falling on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, after this week’s blockbuster Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with social media CEOs, the Senate Health Committee chaired by Bernie Sanders gets its turn to grill industry executives when it meets on Thursday (February 8) to hear from the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb about the ‘outrageously high’ price of prescription drugs. Over in the House, FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker is scheduled to testify at a hearing on Tuesday (February 6) likely dominated by its oversight of Boeing amid questions about the airworthiness of 737 Max 9s prompted by the near-disaster on an Alaska Airlines flight last month.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday (February 11), and it looks likely that this year’s game will surpass last year’s record viewing figures that made Super Bowl LVII the most-watched US-based telecast of all time. The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs will be looking to make it three trophies in five years as they take on the San Francisco 49ers, who they defeated back in 2019. Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the MVP in both previous outings, while the 49ers’ Brock Purdy will become the lowest-drafted QB ever to start in a Super Bowl as his team looks to win the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in nearly 30 years.
But while the game has always attracted a huge audience from both sports fans and those who just want to see the $7 million ads, the circus taking place on the sidelines this year may push the numbers to new heights. KC tight end Travis Kelce’s relationship with global superstar Taylor Swift has Swifties crunching the numbers and planning watch parties in hopes of spotting her in the crowd after she jets back from a gig in Tokyo to show her support. MAGA Republicans, meanwhile, have started floating conspiracy theories that involve the NFL being rigged to up Kelce and a psyop-Swift’s profile ahead of the power couple endorsing Joe Biden. Monday’s coverage is likely to have a healthy dose of speculation about the pop star’s power to mobilize fans and some totally normal MAGA reactions, whatever the result.
The first of three international elections next week takes place on Wednesday (February 7) in Azerbaijan, where long-time president Ilham Aliyev is all-but-certain to win yet another term. Aliyev announced a snap election last December amid heightened popularity linked to his administration’s resounding defeat of separatist Armenians in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
On Thursday (February 8), there are long-awaited parliamentary elections in Pakistan, which has been in turmoil since the 2022 ousting of then-prime minister Imran Khan that prompted months of protests from his supporters. Khan won’t be running as a candidate this time around, not least because of the 10- and 14-year sentences he received this week on top of the three-year sentence he was handed last year for ‘corrupt practices’. Ironically, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of the PML-N party, which took control after Khan’s ouster, could find himself back in his old role despite his conviction on corruption charges after the country’s Supreme Court overturned lifetime bans preventing politicians with past convictions from running for office.
The last election of the week is in Finland, where center-right former prime minister Alexander Stubb is leading in polls against center-left former foreign minister Pekka Haavisto after they progressed to the presidential runoff on Sunday (February 11). Haavisto will have a chance to try to turn the tide ahead of the vote when the pair meet for their final debate on Thursday (February 8).
Following a two-year deadlock in Northern Ireland, the region’s Assembly is due to meet tomorrow (February 3) after the UK Government and the unionist DUP reached an agreement earlier this week. Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill is set to be named first minister, becoming the first nationalist to lead the executive in the history of the country and signifying a momentous shift in Northern Ireland’s internal power balance and politics. The new executive is expected to hold its first meeting on Monday (February 5), but it’s likely to continue to face public opposition from prominent voices who argued against the agreement and may cause problems as the practical implications of the deal become clearer.