Go Back

View from the Street: 2024 in four

Phoebe O'Carroll-Moran

Phoebe O’Carroll-Moran

Senior associate

2024 in four

Welcome to the first View from the Street of 2024.

With 40% of the world’s voters heading to the polls in the next 12 months, 2024 promises to be a year of unprecedented political change. To help navigate it all we’ve set out some key themes to watch out for, plus some recommended reading to get you up to speed.

1. Funky President (people, it’s bad)

Taiwan’s will be the first major election of the year on 13 January, and, given the looming influence of China, one of the most consequential. The Beijing-backed Kuomintang (KMT) party has made significant poll gains and is now closely tailing the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party, leading to a nail-biting final few weeks.

Pundits fear a victory for the DPP may prompt military escalation in the region that could pull in the US and regional allies. The result will set the tone for US president Joe Biden’s year, though his mind will be on focused his own electoral future. Expect 2024 to be punctuated with updates from the US courts, as well as the ballot box.

Recommended listening: The FiveThirtyEight podcast has up-to-date polling and top-tier analysis of the US campaign, and for the latest on Taiwan, catch the most recent episode of Politico’s Power Play podcast.

2. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on 

While the rise of AI put innovators on a collision course with regulators in 2023, 2024 may be the year development in this space takes on a more nationalist flavour. China and the US are already leading the way, setting off a worldwide race for AI supremacy among ambitious runners-up, including the UK and the United Arab Emirates. How generative AI interacts with (and potentially disrupts) this year’s elections will also be well worth watching.

The race for innovation extends to the frontiers of space too. Expect a bumper year for astro-exploration. Even Scotland gets a look-in, with the anticipated launch of western Europe’s first vertical rocket.

For its part, the UK government is attempting scientific diplomacy, officially re-joining the EU’s Horizon scheme this week. It’s a move that aims to restore the country’s international scientific standing but underscores the conflicts that linger as post-Brexit Britain seeks its place in the world.

Recommended reading: Welcome to the era of AI nationalism, the Economist.

3. Come on baby, invest in me 

It was a bruising year for the UK’s investment landscape, with the country branded “closed for business” by the head of Microsoft.

It was a flashpoint that spoke to into a wider economic “black gloom”, amid sluggish growth and weak investment. In his autumn statement, Jeremy Hunt declared that 2024 would be the year that the UK would “throw off our pessimism and diclinism about the UK economy”. So, should we take heart from the chancellor’s uncharacteristic boosterism?

The FT’s latest economists survey predicts a marginally less dismal “grey gloom”, thanks to rising wages and receding inflation, however, things are still far from rosy. Stagnating growth means that UK living standards will remain depressed for some time. As we head into election season, it’s a long-term challenge that both main UK parties will need to face down.

Recommended reading: the Resolution Foundation outlines ten remedies for our economic woes in “Ending Stagnation: A New Economic Strategy for Britain.”

4. I sometimes lose myself in me, I lose track of time 

The question on everyone’s minds, however, remains the exact date of the UK general election. Though 2 May (coinciding with local elections) is still a favourite among some pundits, The Times’ Tim Shipman reports that Tory strategist Isaac Levido is pushing for a November date instead.

Whatever the timing, politicians at Holyrood will be watching on with interest. Labour’s expected resurgence across the country could presage a turn in the SNP’s fortunes come the 2026 Scottish parliament elections. Between that and the expected resolution of the (long) pending police investigation into the party’s former leadership, new year cheer may be short-lived for first minister Humza Yousaf.

Recommended listening: How to win an election, Times Radio