Now the United Nations headquarters is located in New York, and there are almost four times as many countries in its general assembly. A bunch of them could see some changes this year in their governments. And we`ve got the campaigns in the U.S. covered, but Fareed Zakaria is going to fill us in on some of the other spots around the world holding elections this year.
You can predict that in 2012 a lot of leaders will say goodbye. No, I`m not gazing into a magic crystal ball. You see, 2012 is the year of elections. Fifty-nine countries will be tallying up votes, local, state or national. There are 193 countries in the world, so that`s about a third of the world`s nations. Twenty-six of these may see a change in national leadership.
Together,these changes could affect 53 percent of the world`s population, representing half of the world`s GDP, and a lot of the change is concentrated in the world`s most powerful countries. Four of the five U.N. Security Council members could see changes at the top. That`s Russia, China, France and, of course, the United States.
These four countries alone represent 40 percent of the world`s GDP. Of all of them, China will not have democratic elections, of course. But it will see the biggest wholesale change at the top. Seventy percent of the country`s leadership will be new.
We`re not expecting any surprises. Russia`s election will be the most predictable. We already know that Prime Minister Putin is going to become President Putin once again.
But even that change isn`t as clear-cut as you`d imagine. For the first time in years, it seems like it`s becoming acceptable in Russia to criticize the Kremlin. There will be changes, too, in Mexico, Egypt and Kenya, just to name a few.
Some of these elections and leadership changes involve nothing more than personnel shifts. Others will be occasions for fundamental debates about the future course of the country. They could mean shifts, so that we see a different Europe, a different China or a different America in the next few years.
So for those of you who have been struck by the volatility of recent years, the roller coaster ride we`ve all been on, from boom to bust, crisis to crisis, I would say keep that seat belt strapped on, because you`re going to see a lot of churn over the next year as well. It may not be bad, but there will be no shortage of political twists and turns around the world. And those are just the ones we know about.
Well, before we go, we mentioned some exceptions to that lack of snow story.
This is one of them. Aspen, Colorado, got some fresh powder over the weekend. It made this video possible and awesome. This iReporter said he`s been seeing reports about the lack of snow. He wanted to get the word out that the conditions were better, at least in some places. You think snowboarding`s easy? Try making it down a slope while you`re holding up a camera on a stick.
One thing is for sure, there`s "snow" way he`ll get "board." We`re going to freeze the puns there early today instead of launching into a run of them, because sometimes these things can just be a slippery slope. Back with more commercial-free headlines tomorrow. We`ll see you then.