Scholar predictions: Politics in 2020
Chevening Scholars - Class of 2019

Chevening Scholars - Class of 2019

We asked our scholars what they thought would happen in world politics in 2020. Here's what they had to say...

Political volatility and upheaval was a consistent feature of 2019, from protests in Hong Kong and clashes in Catalonia, to unrest leading to the demise of leaders in Sudan, Lebanon, and Bolivia. There was also intense political deadlock right here in the UK which was only resolved after a rare December general election.

With dozens of parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for this year, and the threat of climate change becoming ever-more evident, what political changes should we expect in 2020?

We asked our current scholars, and here’s what they thought would happen this year:

n.b. Views expressed do not represent those of Chevening, the FCO, or the UK Government.

The Republicans will win the US presidential elections in 2020… just!

Donald Trump celebrating

55% of respondents believed that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, would win the US presidential elections in November. 45% thought that the Democrats would regain the White House after just one term in opposition.

(Pictured: Donald Trump, the incumbent Republican President of the United States of America)

There will be a larger role for women in political leadership in 2020.

Sanna Marin - Finnish Prime Minister

At the time of writing, there are 23 women heads of state/government across the world. The longest serving is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Finland’s Sanna Marin is the most recent appointee. When asked whether we would end 2020 with more or fewer women as heads of states/governments, 50% of respondents thought that there would be more women in these top political positions. Only 16% thought there would be fewer, with the rest thinking that the numbers would remain about the same as they currently are.

(Pictured: Sanna Marin, Finland’s Prime Minister – the world’s youngest serving prime minister, aged 34)

Maybe Brexit will finally happen. Maybe it won’t.


Just as the nation was split down the middle on whether the UK should leave the EU, when our scholars were asked whether they thought they UK would actually leave the EU in 2020 there was a similar split. 50% of respondents thought that the UK would leave the bloc in 2020, and the exact same number of respondents thought that the UK would still remain an EU member by the end of 2020.

*n.b., some respondents answered this question before the recent UK general election.

The USA will not rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

Climate campaigner in Tel Aviv

The United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and began the process of doing so in November 2019. However, the withdrawal process takes a year and is expected to be complete the day after this November’s US presidential election.

Dito-Yohanes-NinditoDito Yohanes Nindito from Indonesia was optimistic that the US would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement – but only if the Democrats won the US presidential election. ‘Due to pressing climate-related issues, activism, and an awareness of American states and cities in climate actions, US President Donald Trump will likely lose popularity among American voters and will be beaten by the competitor from the Democrats in the November 2020 election,’ he commented. This, he thought, would pave the way for the US to reverse its decision to withdraw from the agreement. Despite his optimism, only 42% of scholars agreed that the US would rejoin the international community on climate action.

On climate change more widely, whilst Joseph from Nigeria thought that global ‘advocacy for climate-responsible action will increase’, Shamuna from Ghana didn’t expect that that would translate into an end to the crisis. ‘With the effects of climate change already showing, I expect more environmental challenges across the world,’ he noted.

(Pictured: A climate protester in Tel Aviv – main; Dito Yohanes Nindito Adisuryo, a Chevening Scholar from Indonesia – encircled)

Nigeria will top the Chevening applicants table for the third year in a row.

Nigerian scholar at Orientation 2019

Chevening attracts thousands of applicants each year from countries and territories all over the world. Some places attract more applicants than others and, for three of the last four years, Nigeria has seen the most number of applicants (with Egypt coming top in 2017). We asked our scholars which country/territory they thought would top the Chevening application table in 2020.

A staggering 78% of respondents thought that Nigeria would do it again. India, with 16%, came a distant second.

Applications for Chevening Scholarships will open in August 2020, and we’ll find out whether 78% of our scholars were right by November!

(Pictured: Nigerian scholars at Chevening Orientation 2019)

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We’ll be revealing more scholar predictions about 2020 shortly. Next up… sports!

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