China doesn't have elections but the National Congress in October 2012 will decide who succeeds President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiao Bao. Concerns over growth, a real-estate shakedown and protests from Xinjiang to Guangdong signal growing unrest in the country, even as the world worries about China's ambitions in the region.
The year began with a new standoff over Iran's nuclear program and a fuel rod test. As the US threatens new sanctions, Iran in turn threatens to close off the Hormuz Straits, through which one-third of the world's tanker oil passes. Oil prices are zooming up. In 2011, Brent crude shot up 13 percent to go past $110 a barrel. Will it touch $200 in the new year?
Pakistan Army and the Zardari government have been at loggerheads for months, especially after the Osama raid and the mysterious memo about worries of a coup that Pakistan's ambassador to the US is accused of sending. But the PPP government is under fire on many fronts - uncontrolled terror groups, rising prices and an energy crunch. Do Imran Khan's surging rallies and General Musharraf's plans to return mean the government may be pushed out?
After completing the US pullout from Iraq in 2011, US President Barack Obama is working on the Afghanistan pullout with talks with the Taliban. But it's the presidential elections this year that may require Obama to pullout from international events and deal instead with domestic issues. Despite that euphoric historic win in 2008, he now faces a dismal approval rating of 42%. His main card - the Republicans lack a leader that rivals him.
There are at least 20 big elections to watch out for this year. In Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants a comeback as President. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants another term. Both however face a stiff challenge from the street. The world is also watching elections in Egypt, Iran, Myanmar and Libya. And of course, the parliamentary elections promised by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who may face a Libya-style régime change if he doesn't end a bloody crackdown on his people. If 2011 was the year of the protester, 2012 may well be the year of the voter!
From the Arab Spring to the economic downturn. In 2011, the world came out on the streets to protest. But as the year ended, the demonstrations thinned out too. World View, the global news show on CNN-IBN, anticipates the events that may define 2012.