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Our top non-financial news of the year

Xi wins a third presidential mandate  

The assembly of the Communist Party elected Xi Jinping for a third term. This election was unprecedented in the history of the People’s Republic of China. Xi’s victory was overwhelming, with 2,952 votes in favour and none against. With the reelection, Xi definitively broke away from the constraints of the two-term presidential limit, which was already abolished in 2018 with a move that paved the way for his indefinite leadership.

The victory comes at a time when the President must address a series of internal and external problems. The Chinese economy appears to have lost momentum, and many structural issues, such as excessive debt and over-concentration in the construction sector, are slowing down the country’s prospects. Internationally, Xi must assert China’s role in an increasingly complex international chessboard.

Is there life on Jupiter?

Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) to search for life in the Jovian system. JUICE will explore Jupiter and three of its icy moons, Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede, and is expected to arrive in 2031. Only two spacecraft have orbited Jupiter: the Galileo probe, which gravitated around the planet between 1995 and 2003, and Juno, in 2016.

Previous missions have been crucial in enhancing our knowledge about the largest planet in the solar system. Galileo found evidence that oceans of liquid water might exist underneath the ice crust of the three moons that JUCE will visit. The mission also found that storms in Jupiter’s atmosphere can be larger than Earth. Juno discovered that a core of diluted heavy metals may hide within the mostly gaseous Jupiter.

Auf wiedersehen, nuclear!

The news may come as unexpected, as Europe is facing an energy crisis. But Germany has decided to shut its nuclear capability forever this year. Germany started to phase out nuclear energy 12 years ago after a deep-rooted anti-nuclear sentiment within a large part of the population grew thanks to the Fukushima disaster.

Isar 2 in Bavaria, Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg and Emsland nuclear power stations were the last plants to be discontinued. They provided 6% of the country’s electricity in 2022. The decision was met with intense debate, with many arguing that the stringent plan to substitute fossil fuels should have led to reconsidering nuclear policies.

The coronation of King Charles and Camilla

King Charles III was crowned in Westminster Abbey with his wife, Queen Camilla. This was the first time that the majority of the public had the chance to witness a coronation; the last time it was held was in 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, an event which was televised – a breakthrough for the time. 

Despite the ceremony having not changed much over the centuries and, as such, it may appear somewhat archaic to the modern viewer, it reached an audience of more than 20 million on live TV in the UK and received extensive coverage from media worldwide.

Erdoğan the Sultan stays at the helm

Recep Tayyip Erdogan defeated Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during the second round of the Turkish election with a 52.18% share of the votes. Erdogan won his third term as president after a very hotly contested electoral campaign. The opposition leader denounced “the most unfair election in recent years” and did not explicitly admit defeat. This term will extend Erdogan’s time in power to a quarter of a century. 

Turkey has been facing a severe economic crisis over recent years with inflation soaring and the value of the Turkish lira reaching a record low this year. On the other hand, Turkey plays an increasingly important role in international affairs as Erdogan has managed to leverage his strategic positioning, both geographically and diplomatically, over many of the most recent international crises.

Spain defeat England in the Women’s World Cup

2023 marked yet another record year for women’s football as the sport keeps gaining traction and attention worldwide. The FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Australia was a remarkable success, beating every record in terms of attendance, sponsorship, TV coverage and global reach. FIFA chief women’s football officer Sarai Brennan said before the tournament kicked off that it was expected to reach an audience of over 2 billion viewers.

Spain had the better of the Lionesses in the final, running out 1-0 winners after a very tight game.

Titan: Tragedy strikes again in the Atlantic 

There are certain tragedies that have the power to touch deeply the chords of human emotions and captivate the global imagination for centuries to come. The sinking of Titanic is one such thing as the naval disaster occurred more than 100 years ago is still a byword for tragedy at sea (as well as on land). 

The calling from the Titanic relic still resonates so strongly that there are still people that are happy to pay a fortune to join extreme underwater missions in order to pay a visit to the sunken ship. It was during one of those missions that tragedy struck again as a submarine imploded during a commercial expedition in the depths of the Atlantic. After days of hopeless attempts to save the passengers, all were declared dead, including the CEO of the company that offered this underwater experience, who was also onboard. 

Much like the Titanic tragedy, the Titan incident also gripped the world’s attention, gaining countless headlines and becoming one of the main topics of conversation in many countries. With its most famous predecessor, it shares not only a geographical location but also the involvement of affluent people and a misplaced over-confidence in human technical capabilities. All these elements played into making the story one of the most-read this year.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the High Seas Treaty for Marine Conservation 

The U.N. has adopted the world’s first treaty to protect the high seas and preserve marine biodiversity in international waters, marking a milestone after nearly 20 years of effort. The pact is a key plank in efforts to put 30% of the world’s land and sea under environmental protection by 2030, a goal set in 2022. Among other provisions, the legally binding agreement would govern sharing benefits derived from marine genetic resources beyond national jurisdictions, creating protected areas on the high seas and establishing a framework for assessing environmental damage.

The Shark retires

Rupert Murdoch announced his retirement and passed his businesses to his son Lachlan. Murdoch led News Corp and Fox, and formerly Sky Group. The Australian mogul has arguably been the most influential mass media owner of all time. 

South Africa claim the Rugby World Cup

The 2023 Rugby World Cup was held in France. South Africa beat New Zealand 12-11 in the final at the Stade de France, claiming their fourth Rugby World Cup title.

Hottest summer on record

The world’s oceans reached a new record high temperature of 20.96 °C, exceeding the previous record set in 2016. July was also the hottest month on record for globally averaged surface air temperatures by a considerable margin (0.3 °C).

Azerbaijan invades the Republic of Artsakh

Azerbaijan launched a military offensive against the Armenia-backed Republic of Artsakh, which ended with a swift Azerbaijani victory. Protests erupted in Armenia, Artsakh announced the dissolution of government institutions, and over 100,000 ethnic Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Beatles come together for one last time

The Beatles released “Now and Then”, the band’s last ever song, featuring restored vocals by John Lennon (1940–1980), as well as guitar tracks by George Harrison.

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