08 November 2022 17:34:44 IST

A management and technology professional with 17 years of experience at Big-4 business consulting firms, and seven years of experience in high-technology manufacturing, Rajkamal Rao is a results-driven strategy expert. A US citizen with OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) privileges that allow him to live and work in India, he divides his time between the two countries. Rao heads Rao Advisors, a firm that counsels students aspiring to study in the United States on ways to maximise their return on investment. He lives with his wife and son in Texas. Rao has been a columnist for from the year the website was launched, in 2015, and writes regularly for BusinessLine as well. Twitter: @rajkamalrao

Conservatives coming into power worldwide will change global geopolitics

Israeli’s Benjamin Netanyahu formed the government by teaming up with right-wing conservative parties

In election news last week, former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled 73-year-old head of the conservative Likud party, under trial on corruption charges, comfortably beat his center-left opponent Yair Lapid, who had engineered his downfall two years ago.

Netenyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader is expected to form another government by teaming up with some of Israel’s most right-wing conservative parties, which believe that it is proper for even more Jewish settlements to be built in the contested West Bank.

Saudi Arabia, which granted Israel some overflying rights to Israeli planes, and has insisted that full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Kingdom can only occur after the Palestinian issue is resolved, is nervous. Any promise of extending the Abraham accords negotiated during the Trump administration that brings about normalization between Israel and the Arab world is immediately on hold.

A right turn

The string of conservative victories began earlier this year as the world slowly carved itself out of the two-year pandemic. Fed up with liberal governments imposing rules on the fly — locked-down cities, mask mandates, social distancing rules, vaccinations — citizens worldwide protested by returning conservatives to power.

In Hungary, Victor Orban crushed his opponent to hold office for a record fourth term as Hungarians credited him with deftly managing Covid in the European country. His support will be crucial as the European Union struggles to add Ukraine to its family of nations. I covered Orban’s speech in Dallas, where he was cheered at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference.

Orban openly pleaded for a negotiated settlement to the war, saying that the energy crisis would be deadly to cold countries like his. Orban could be the first to crack EU.unity as it continues to support Ukraine after Russia invaded the country in February.

Three weeks ago, Giorgia Meloni made history when she became the first woman PM ever elected in Italy. A telegenic leader and the head of the Brothers of Italy (FdI) political party since 2014, she put together a group of conservative parties to take over Italy’s helm after the government of Mario Draghi was forced to step down. Draghi, a former eight-year President of the European Central Bank between 2011 and 2019, was a cheerleader for Europe’s support of Ukraine.

Among Meloni’s conservative party supporters is Silvio Berlusconi, who himself served as Prime Minister of Italy in four governments. Berlusconi is considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. As the E.U. grips with the worst energy shortage and rising inflation, Meloni’s government could join Orban to weaken further the European unity that has existed steadfastly since the Russian invasion.

Last week, Brazil was a rare exception to the conservative trend when former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a leftwing leader, beat far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in the presidential election. But the margin of Lula’s victory was so slim, only 0.2 per cent, that the results were a statistical tie. Although the Bolsonaro administration has begun transitional activities, Bolsonaro has not yet conceded. His supporters have begun nationwide protests signaling a tough time for Lula to enact a leftward turn.

Shifting priorities

And in the US, Congressional elections will determine the fate of all 435 members in the House of Representatives and 35 members of the upper chamber, the US Senate. With its presidential form of government of an independent Executive in the office of the presidency and the two legislative houses of Congress, the US has enjoyed single-party rule since 2020 as the Democrats have controlled all three levers of power.

Expect the Democrats to lose control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans by a huge margin of 20+ seats. While the Senate is currently evenly split 50-50, with VP Kamala Harris breaking the tie in favor of the Biden administration, expect the Republicans to win the Senate, too, with a 52-48 majority. Most first-term presidents expect to lose seats for their party in the midterms, but President Biden’s approval ratings are just hovering around 40 per cent.

Americans are fed up with an inept administration that has done nothing to tackle illegal immigration, crime in the cities, and inflation. They ask why Biden is leading America to World War III when during Trump’s time in office, Russia fired not a single shot at Ukraine, China did not conduct war exercises in the Taiwan Strait, and North Korea did not fire missiles over South Korea and Japan.

In the US, the House controls the purse of all federal spending. Expect the House to put the brakes on Biden’s future requests to send additional money to Ukraine or to refuse to extend the debt ceiling unless the administration steps up action on immigration and criminal enforcement. The US’s environmental leadership will likely take a hit because the Republican Senate is unlikely to sign on to any significant deals at the 2022 UN climate summit (COP27) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

As I had predicted last year after the Glasgow summit, the pledges of world leaders to limit deforestation and phase out fossil fuel subsidies have been abandoned. Russia’s war on Ukraine and the EU’s senseless sanctions on Russian natural gas have created such a massive energy shortage that even green Germany has restarted closed coal-fired plants.

The next two years will see major changes in geopolitical priorities and alignment.