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Will we recognise the world in 2025?

With half of the world’s population heading to the ballot box, geopolitical instability joins death and taxes as the only inevitabilities for 2024. In this changing world, Australia cannot be caught asleep at the wheel and must invest in defence immediately, writes Defence Connect editor Liam Garman.

With half of the world’s population heading to the ballot box, geopolitical instability joins death and taxes as the only inevitabilities for 2024. In this changing world, Australia cannot be caught asleep at the wheel and must invest in defence immediately, writes Defence Connect editor Liam Garman.

With nearly 50 per cent of the world’s population heading to the ballot box over the coming 12 months, the impending global order may be unrecognisable from the US-led rules-based system that has guided global affairs with a steady hand since the end of the Cold War.

Undeniably, a global realignment is on the cards. To kickstart 2024, BRICS expanded to include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates, evidence that even some friendly nations are keen to express their geopolitical independence and build bridges with regional adversaries.


Some nations even nestled closer into the bosom of the West. Newly elected Argentinian President Javier Milei floated the idea of moving Argentina to the US dollar as the country struggles to put a lid on its 200 per cent annual inflation rate. Such moves could only be considered a win for the greenback and Western world as producers such as Gulf oil states look to trade in renminbi.

With such uncertainty, Australia has no choice but to invest rapidly in defence innovation and defence industry, lest our nation sleepwalk into another global conflict as it did in the 1930s.

So what could the world look like?

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is set to gain a comfortable majority in the House of Commons. However, allies are right to be cautious of Starmer in Number 10, over the lingering influence of Corbyn and Momentum on the UK Labour Party. While no longer a member of Labour, the UK’s “almost” prime minister in 2017 just months ago called for the West to end support of Ukraine and has long collaborated with groups such as the IRA and Hamas. With Corbyn allies on Starmer’s front bench, the UK may yet throw up some foreign affairs challenges for the AUKUS partnership.

The European Union

Across the channel, 448 million individuals in the European Union are set to vote in June, with polling indicating a continued drift to the right. Though the centre-right EPP and ECR blocs are set to dominate the agenda for the next EU Parliament, the far-right Identity and Democracy grouping are set to be the big winners of the election. Made up of groups including Le Pen’s National Rally, Alternative for Deutschland and Lega, the Foreign Policy Research Institute has called ID “Putin understanders” and potentially posing a threat to European unity on Ukraine. ID has refuted such accusations and has recently released several statements pushing against EU ties with China and in support of Israel.


In Austria, the Freedom Party is set to top the polls during the country’s October legislative elections. In 2019, the FPO courted controversy after it was revealed that the party leader was seeking money from a Russian national, promising to mirror Orban’s Hungary. It has opposed sanctions on Russian energy, walked out on speeches made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and received condemnation from Austrian intelligence professionals.


The Pakistani election has been mired with accusations of vote rigging with the military imprisoning members of Imran Khan’s PTI Party since the former prime minister was imprisoned in 2023. Despite this, PTI still has substantial support from the electorate with the most recent polls (albeit from six months ago) giving PTI a 22 per cent lead over the incumbent caretaker Prime Minister’s PML (N). This is set to be an intriguing election given the command that Khan still dominates over the population. Khan was sceptical over Chinese investments in Pakistan, in opposition to the military’s support for a strengthened relationship with China. Poverty levels have also increased by 5 per cent over the last year amid ballooning national debt that China has refused to forgive.


While it is reasonable to assume that Russia’s upcoming March election won’t alter the government or Kremlin policy, it is already seeing individuals more openly express their opposition to the War in Ukraine. To feature on the ballot, a presidential candidate needs to secure 100,000 signatures. Media outlets have already shown photos of Russian citizens lining up to sign for Boris Nadezhdin – an opponent of the war. Other opponents are expected to be used to strengthen Putin’s narrative in Russia.

Iran and Syria

Both Iran and Syria are expected to hold elections over the next 12 months. Already, Iranian leaders have barred several “reformists” from running for the Assembly of Experts, a faction that can trace its lineage to leftist and centrist intellectuals.


The immensely popular Indian nationalist Narendra Modi is also seeking re-election against a rejuvenated and unified opposition grouping I.N.D.I.A. The Opposition grouping was formed in 2023 as a political alliance of 27 political parties, led by Congress and consisting of several Communist and Islamic factions. Modi is leading the I.N.D.I.A grouping by 2–4 per cent in the latest polls. I.N.D.I.A has yet to see any electoral success, losing three state elections against Modi’s BJP. BJP ministers have recently accused Congress of working with the Chinese Communist Party.


Heading the polls with a substantial lead is Minister for Defence Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo. Subianto made headlines in Australia for his middle-of-the-road acknowledgement of the AUKUS trilateral security partnership, while many Southeast Asian counties condemned Australia’s plans to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

“But as I said, the emphasis of every country is to protect their national interest. If they feel threatened, if they feel that they have an existential threat, they will do whatever they can to protect themselves. We understand that and we respect them,” he said.

Despite this, he has played a reasonably conciliatory approach between Russia and Ukraine, arguing for a demilitarised zone between the two militaries. He also recently visited China.

The United States

This author does not need to add anymore commentary on the absurdist fiction that is United States politics.

In every election there are shocks. Few individuals, a decade ago, would have expected that the United States would flee Afghanistan leaving billions of dollars of military equipment in the hands of the Taliban – and worse yet – al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Few would have expected that the White House could lead a rapprochement between Israel and several Arab states, and begin the normalisation of relations with North Korea, only to scupper two of the greatest foreign affairs victories of the post-9/11 world.

Needless to say, the only inevitabilities are death, taxes, and geopolitical uncertainty. With a world potentially on the brink of becoming unrecognisable, Australia cannot sleepwalk into the unknown. We must invest in our defence capabilities now to deter whatever is around the corner.

Get involved with the discussion and let us know your thoughts on Australia’s future role and position in the Indo-Pacific region and what you would like to see from Australia’s political leaders in terms of partisan and bipartisan agenda setting in the comments section below, or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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