Every year, the most powerful people in the world gather to share cocktails, make speeches, and rub shoulders in the Swiss town of Davos. It’s a who’s who of the elite and powerful. Bill Gates, Elton John, the heads of state from various countries, the CEOs of multi-hundred billion dollar companies, these are the type of attendees that make up the invite list.
Except, this year several heads of state are skipping the event. President Trump had to cancel due to the on-going government shutdown. With the White House and everyone else trying to stretch dollars, the budget constraints are real. And just imagine how it’d look if Trump jetset to hang out with the uber-elite while government workers go without paychecks.
But he’s not the only one skipping Davos. Beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May also dropped out. Switzerland is just a short plane ride away from the United Kingdom, but May’s efforts to guide the United Kingdom through Brexit have so far failed spectacularly.
One might think that May would have swung by for a few days anyways. With so many political and business leaders on hand, she may have been able to shore up support for a post-Brexit United Kingdom. Still, the problems at home are simply too pressing.
Speaking of problems at home, there’s Emmanuel Macron. France has seen weeks of protests that have often devolved into violent clashes, pitting social movements and citizens against police. At least 10 civilians have died so far. Many have accused Macron of being arrogant and aloof, and his own approach to soothing tensions has so far paid few dividends.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa will miss the World Economic Forum, which is the headline event at Davos. His own country is experiencing violent protests and a dire domestic situation. Mnangagwa had been in Davos for other events but skipped town early.
Clearly, even if the powerful and elite continue to toast their champagne in Davos, the larger world has become unsettled.