Key Global Events to Watch in March

 At the start of every month, the Global Observatory posts a list of key upcoming meetings and events that have implications for global affairs.

MARCH 4: General Election in Italy

After Italy’s Parliament was dissolved in December, the general election to choose new members and thus a new prime minister will be held on March 4. Public opinion polls show that unemployment and immigration are the top voter concerns, though more than 60 percent of Italians are not satisfied with how democracy works. Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right bloc has a clear lead ahead of the election but final polls point to uncertainty that he will win a working majority. There is, however, a possibility that Berlusconi will triumph and once again be prime minister.

MARCH 4: Coalition Deal in Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives approved a coalition deal with the Social Democrats (SPD) last week. The deal has been presented to the SPD and requires their approval—the results of which will be announced on March 4. If approved, the deal would secure Merkel a fourth term as Chancellor as well as an end to political limbo in Europe’s preeminent power. If SPD members vote “no” the most likely outcome is a new election or possibly a minority government.

MARCH 7: Presidential Election in Sierra Leone

The election for president of Sierra Leone will take place on March 7, after the end of current President Ernest Bai Koroma’s second term. President Koroma has served the maximum of ten years and is ineligible. The country will elect its third president since the return of multi-party rule in 1996. Elections in Sierra Leone have historically been dominated by the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and the primary opposition Sierra Leone’s People’s Party (SLPP). Smaller groups like the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and Coalition for Change (C4C) are unlikely to win enough votes to form a government.

MARCH 8: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day, a UN recognized global event aimed at celebrating the achievements of women, is on March 8. Hundreds of events have been planned in cities across the world. This year’s campaign has taken on the theme of #PressForProgress to draw attention to the need for gender parity and to motivate individuals and communities to prioritize gender inclusion. The campaign will continue throughout the year. 

MARCH 8: Turkey-US Relations

According to state-run Anadolu Agency, the US and Turkey will hold a meeting aimed at normalizing relations on March 8 in Washington. Among the topics on the agenda are the conflict in Syria and preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government has accused of masterminding the failed July 2016 coup. The meeting was apparently agreed upon during a recent visit to Turkey by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

MARCH 11: Parliamentary Election in Cuba

Cuba is moving ahead with elections for members of its National Assembly of the People’s Power on March 11. The elections will determine provincial assembly delegates and National Assembly deputies, both positions with a term limit of five years. When the National Assembly is convened in April, President Raul Castro will step down as head of state and a new president will be chosen. Castro will remain as head of the Communist Party of Cuba until its next congress in 2021.

MARCH 12-16: Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)

The sixty-first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), established by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1946, is scheduled to be held in Vienna from March 12-16. The commission is tasked with assisting ECOSOC in supervising the application of international drug control treaties. The meeting comes at a time of rising challenges from synthetic drug production and instability caused by narcotics trafficking.

MARCH 13-24: Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

The sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will take place at UN headquarters from March 13-24. The annual meeting brings together member states, UN entities, and civil society to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. This year’s priority theme is women’s economic empowerment in work.

MARCH 17-18: ASEAN-Australia Special Summit

Between March 17-18, leaders from the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet in Australia for a special summit between the regional partners. The aim of the meeting is to discuss and advance shared economic and security concerns. Many governments in the region are concerned with how to navigate a future that will be determined increasingly by China and not the US. The special summit will be preceded by a Business Summit and Counter-Terrorism Conference.

MARCH 18: Presidential Election in Russia

Russia will hold its presidential election on March 18, which current President Vladimir Putin is assured to comfortably win. With a victory Putin will be president until 2024, when he will have been president or prime minister of Russia for 23 years. A number of candidates have been barred from running, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was also briefly detained and accused of “organizing illegal protests.” On Sunday, thousands marched in Moscow to commemorate murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, calling for Vladimir Putin to be ousted just three weeks before the election. Nemtsov, one of Putin’s most vocal critics, was shot and killed on February 25, 2015 as he crossed a bridge near the Kremlin.

MARCH 26-28: Presidential Election in Egypt

The election for the presidency of Egypt will be held between March 26 and 28. Many have characterized the election as moot, as President Abel Fattah al-Sisi is almost guaranteed to be re-elected after making it nearly impossible for any political opponent to challenge his bid for the presidency. Multiple media reports have suggested that would-be opposition candidates were under pressure to drop out of the race, and some have even been arrested after declaring their candidacy.

MARCH TBD: American Delegation to Israel

An American delegation is said to be traveling to Israel next week to coordinate the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The date of the embassy transfer has been moved up to mid-May, to coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday.

MARCH TBD: Impeachment of Philippines’ Chief Justice

The chief judge of the Philippines’ Supreme Court will be taking a “wellness” leave of absence to prepare for a possible impeachment trial. The chief judge, Maria Lourdes Sereno, the country’s first women chief justice, has voiced concern about human rights and rule of law under President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has in turn publicly expressed his displeasure with Sereno. The president’s political allies dominate the 300-seat lower house and it is widely expected they will vote to impeach Sereno by the middle of March.