Probabilistic update analysis on my 2016 predictions

Probabilistic analysis is the calculation of the probability of a certain prediction coming true within a set time frame. I intend to do the same with the predictions I set out at the beginning of the year with the intention of being able, at the end of the year, to give myself an overall success score on my forecasting.

I also intend to use this opportunity to update the reader on my current thoughts on each of the predictions outlined;

  • Donald Trump will become the GOP candidate and will defeat Hilary Clinton in the Presidential election.

Donald Trump GOP candidate – 95% probabilistic chance

Donald Trump winning GE – 70% probabilistic chance

The first part of this prediction that Donald Trump will become the GOP candidate has already come to pass. Because of this, I can only be as honest as possible with the probabilistic ratio at the time that I wrote down that prediction. I was always convinced that Donald Trump would do very well in the primary season and overcome any competition from the crowded field of Republican candidates.

I also think that on a balance of probability Donald Trump will still go on to defeat Hilary Clinton at the general election in November. Trump has adapted his campaign and more importantly his tone since the Khangate debacle with a softer, more rounded and presidential approach. The national security round table meeting at Trump Towers, the tour of the victims of the flooding and the series of key speeches on economy and foreign policy all indicate to me that Trump has listened to his advisers and has responded accordingly.

The appointment of the Breibart News executive Steve Bannon has been widely misunderstood by the Pundocracy.  Bannon will sharpen, develop and enhance the anti-establishment, economically populist and “change agent” message of the Donald versus a status quo Hilary Clinton. Trumps outreach to African-American voters fits into this broader rallying of 75% of Americans who feel that America is going the wrong way and are looking for a candidate who can challenge the status quo in Washington. If Trump can harness the latent populist forces in the electorate to his advantage he will go on to defeat Clinton.

Although it is clear that Trump is behind Clinton in the polls, for a number of reasons, I consider the current polls unduly flattering to Clinton. Why is it that the online polls tend to be better for Trump than the phone polling samples? I suspect that the online polls are capturing some of the Shy Trump phenomenon which is a definite if unquantifiable factor at play in the electorate. I have attempted to place the Shy Trump Supporters factor at 4% of the electorate but this is at best an educated guess.

The other question mark is whether the poling agencies are capturing the voters who never normally vote in general elections but intend to in this presidential election. These “once in a generation” voters may have only last voted in November 1980 when Ronald Reagan roared to power on the back of an unprecedented surge of support from blue collar voters. The Brexit referendum saw a surge in turnout from working class sections of the populace who never normally vote in a general election and were missed by the polling agencies who predicted a narrow Remain vote.

My conclusion is that if Trump carries on the path he is following he will be on course to win on 8 November 2016.

2) Britain will vote (just) to leave the EU

Britain voting to leave the EU – 60% probabilistic chance

I bet only a small amount of money on a Leave victory because I always thought it would be a very close result although my gut instinct always felt that Leave would win. Because of this, my probabilistic chance of Brexit was never a strong one, with 60% my forecasting probability prior to the referendum day.

3) Civil unrest in Germany major cities by migrants

Civil unrest in Germany cities by migrants – 50% probabilistic chance

Although we have seen isolated and regular attacks on migrant centres, particularly in the former East Germany, no major outbreak of violence has erupted across Germany, yet, between migrants and far right protesters. There are clearly rising tensions, fuelled by the horrific “summer of terror”, between migrants and locals but so far peace has reigned.

I would place the possibility of major civil unrest at a 50:50 probability as the social pre-conditions are in place but whether the power keg will explode this year remains open. Should violent protests erupt, I would not be surprised if it starts in the economically impoverished towns and cities of the former East Germany, where anti-refugee sentiment is very strong.

4) An attempt will be made to remove Angela Merkel from office

Attempt to remove Angela Merkel from office – 55% probabilistic chance

The Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer has been a fierce critic of Merkel’s open door policy towards refugees and has threatened to break with party unity and run a separate campaign in next year’s elections. Should Seehofer actually go through with this threat, the pressure on Merkel to withdraw from running for the re-election as chancellor would be overwhelming. It would be a de facto coup d’état against Chancellor Merkel.

The reason I don’t consider this a high probability event is the remarkable Teflon abilities of Merkel to survive repeated political crisis’s which would have sunk other politicians. It is possible that a massive ISIS terror attack this autumn might finally destroy her political authority and embolden her conservative critics to move against her.

Whether Frau Merkel’s luck finally runs out this year remains to be seen.

5) ISIS will launch a multiple urban European terror attack

European 9/11 – 75% probabilistic chance

To a certain extent, the attacks by ISIS terrorists in France and Germany this summer are remarkably in line with my prediction of orchestrated terror attacks in different West European states. The Nice terror attack, shortly afterwards followed by the axe attack on a Bavarian train and the suicide bomb attack in Ansbach were closely coordinated attacks within a short time horizon.

There are important differences, as I anticipated simultaneous attacks on a much bigger and more horrifying scale than what we have seen during the “summer of terror” so far. The security experts refer to it as a “European 9/11”.

It is with regret to say that I still think that there is a high possibility that such a multifaceted attack will come later this year.

30.08.16 – Following feedback, I would like to add the following comments on my predictions;

  • The time frame for all of my predictions are set to expire on 31 December 2016.
  • Regarding a “European 9/11”, I would clarify that this would involve major terrorist attacks (with at least 50 people dead and more injured) in at least two European states within the same day.
  • With respect to my prediction of civil unrest in Germany, for this prediction to be triggered, there would be major riots/civil unrest in at least 5 German towns within a 2 week timeframe.
Probabilistic update analysis on my 2016 predictions

The German powder keg

Germany is a social powder keg waiting to explode after two terrorist attacks within the past weeks. The first was a lone wolf Islamist Afghan refugee who seriously injured, with an axe and knife, Hong Kong tourists on a train in southern Germany. On Friday 22nd July, a dual nationality Iranian-German teenage gunman called Ali Sonboly deliberately killed children eating at a McDonalds in Munich, Germany before continuing his killing spree in a shopping mall.

There have been contradictory reports on the motives of the gunman, with CNN reporting that a Muslim witness confirmed that he screamed “Allahu Akbar” as he fired his gun in McDonalds. German authorities have downplayed any Islamist connection and have tried to link him to the far-right fanatic Anders Breivik. Whilst there is no doubt that the teenage killer was a deeply disturbed loner with homicidal tendencies, it is likely that he was influenced by the broader currents of radical Islam.

Germany has a highly organised network of far-right activists across the country prepared to commit revenge attacks against migrant centres or mosques. Hans-Georg Maassen, chief of the German security services Bundesamts für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), warned on radio that  right-wing radicalization, spurred by the European migrant crisis, may see Germany collapse into a civil war between left-wing and right-wing demonstrators.

Already, demonstrations between hard left and extreme right elements have descended into violence in Berlin and there are regular protests against refugees in the former Eastern Germany. Whether the explosion of violence actually happens this year is another matter, but there is no doubt that the German authorities are very alarmed at the prospect.

On a European level, counterterrorism experts are extremely pessimistic about the risk of a European 9/11, with the continent facing “simultaneous attacks on the same day in several countries, several places”. I have predicted a pan-European jihadi terror attack in my first blog post, with the attack likely to happen in September or October this year. Hopefully I will be proven wrong in this grim prediction, which if accurate, will have profound implications for the future of European politics.

The German powder keg