The coming year may not include anything like the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, an Olympics, a U.S. election or a popular end-of-the-world prediction, but many events are sure to make headlines in 2013.
It also looks like the U.S. government doesn't have a so-called fiscal cliff to go over today, after a New Year's Eve deal in Washington. If the deal doesn't hold, a year from now, that package of spending cuts and tax increases may turn out to be the biggest political story of 2013.
In Canada, there is only one provincial election scheduled, in B.C. on May 14, but Ontario, Nova Scotia, Nunavut and possibly Quebec are likely to have elections. At least six leadership races for governing or opposition parties in the provinces should take place in 2013.
Here's 21 of the events already on the 2013 news calendar.
Czech Republic elections: Jan. 11-12, run-off Jan. 25-26
Czech voters go the polls to elect a replacement to President Vaclav Klaus, who is prevented from running again because of term limits. The leading contenders in a field of at least nine candidates are Jan Fischer and Milos Zeman, both former prime ministers of the Czech Republic. Vladimir Franz, an artist, musician and professor at the Prague Film Academy, is also getting attention and significant support — in part because almost his entire body is covered with intricate tattoos.
Barack Obama's inauguration: Jan. 21
Washington will be the scene of the 57th presidential inauguration, No. 2 for Barack Obama. "Faith in America's Future" is the official theme this time. Expect the usual swearing-in ceremony, inaugural address, parade, balls and galas. Jan. 21 is also Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. and later in 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of King's famous "I have a dream" speech.
Elections in Israel: Jan. 22
Israeli voters go the polls in an early election that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-led coalition is expected to win, because of the lack of viable alternatives. However, which parties will be in Netanyahu's new government remain to be seen. The Palestinian issue is getting little traction but Netanyahu's campaign has been playing up Iran's nuclear program.
Ontario Liberal Party leadership convention: Jan. 25-27
Ontario Liberals meet at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto to elect a leader to replace Premier Dalton McGuinty. McGuinty became leader in 1996 and premier in 2003. The new leader will take over as premier of a precarious minority government. The seven candidates in the race have all been cabinet ministers under McGuinty: Eric Hoskins, Gerard Kennedy, Glen Murray, Sandra Pupatello, Charles Sousa, Harinder Takhar and Kathleen Wynne.
Elections in Italy: Feb. 24-25
Italians will be going to the polls early, with voting taking place over two days. After being criticized by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's team, technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti announced he would resign and moved up the election date. Berlusconi, who resigned in November 2011, hopes to become prime minister for the fourth time.
His centre-right People of Liberty Party has about 16.5 per cent support in recent polls, while the left-of-centre Democratic Party leads with 32 per cent. Monti has been ambiguous about his own intentions, leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera to write, "Monti will be a non-candidate candidate."
February may also be when the verdict is handed down in the "Ruby the Heartstealer" case, in which Berlusconi is charged with paying for sex with an under-age prostitute.
Elections in Kenya: March 4
After charges of manipulation in the previous election in 2007, ethnic rioting led to more than 1,100 deaths before a power-sharing arrangement was reached. There are fears of more violence in March, when Kenyans vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. The current frontrunner is Raila Odinga, now the prime minister and a 2007 presidential candidate. Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president, is also a leading contender.
However, Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, have been indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for their role in the violence that followed the 2007 vote.
Saskatchewan NDP leadership vote: March 9
The party selects its new leader at the same time its holds its convention in Saskatoon. All party members can vote, whether attending the convention or not. After the NDP's poor showing in the 2011 provincial election, leader Dwain Lingenfelter resigned. Four men are in the race: MLAs Cam Broten and Trent Wotherspoon, Saskatoon physician Ryan Meili and economist Erin Weir. Leadership debates resume Jan. 12 in Rosetown.
Quebec Liberal Party leadership convention: March 17
Delegates at a leadership convention in Montreal will choose a new Liberal leader following Jean Charest's resignation after the Quebec election. Nominations have closed. Three former provincial cabinet ministers — Raymond Bachand, Philippe Couillard and Pierre Moreau — are running. With a Parti Québécois minority government, the new Liberal leader could also be campaigning again in 2013 in a provincial election.
International day of happiness: March 20
The UN General Assembly passed a resolution in June declaring an international day of happiness, with the first one set for 2013. The UN wants recognition of "the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations," according to the resolution. The effort to create the day was led by Bhutan, which has its own gross national happiness index. However, judging by the results of an international poll Gallup released two weeks ago, Latin Americans are the happiest people, placing seven countries in the polling organization's top 10 list of nation's with a positive attitude.
Canada finished in a tie for 11th.
Liberal Party of Canada leadership vote: April 14
Party members and others will vote for the next leader of the federal Liberal Party, following Michael Ignatieff's resignation after the drubbing the Liberals received in the 2011 election. Non-members who register as supporters can vote in the preferential ballot system the Liberals will use. The party says, "The results will be weighted equally for each electoral district in Canada." Leadership debates get going on Jan. 20 in Vancouver. So far, seven candidates are in the race, with MP Justin Trudeau the frontrunner, according to pundits and polls. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae is not a candidate.
Election in B.C.: May 14
May 14 is the tentative date for B.C. voters to decide whether or not they want to stay with Premier Christy Clark's Liberals. The NDP has led in public opinion polls since September 2011. Both Clark and the NDP's Adrian Dix became party leaders in 2011, with Clark replacing Gordon Campbell as premier.
Canada chairs Arctic Council: May 15
Canada takes over as chair of the Arctic Council at a ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden. The eight Arctic countries are members of the council, which addresses common Arctic issues, especially sustainable development and environmental protection. Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq will take on the role. Canada held the Council's first chairmanship after it was established in Ottawa in 1996.
Royal birth: June ?
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, is expected to give birth to their first child, who will become third in line for the throne. The official announcement of Kate's pregnancy was made after she was admitted to hospital with acute morning sickness in December. A hoax telephone call to the hospital from Australian radio presenters was followed by the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, one of the nurses with whom the presenters spoke.
Elections in Iran: June 14
Iran will stage a vote to select a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After widespread allegations of fraud in the 2009 elections, a mass protest movement formed but was crushed by the regime, although it played a role in inspiring the Arab Spring. The presidency is subordinate to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose Guardian Council will vet would-be candidates.
G8 Summit in Northern Ireland: June 17-18
British Prime Minister David Cameron will host the G8 Summit of world leaders at the Lough Erne resort in Northern Ireland. Cameron said in November that there will be no lengthy communique at the 39th summit and the focus will be on "the development of open economies, open governments and open societies."
Elections in Tunisia: June 23
Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring, will hold presidential and parliamentary elections on June 23, with a run-off in the presidential vote set for July 7, if necessary. A coalition led by the Islamist Ennahdha movement has governed since the 2011 elections. Support for Ennahdha has been slipping while ordinary Tunisians wait for their revolution to produce material benefits for them, rather than rising unemployment and clashes in the streets between Islamists and trade unionists.
IAAF World Championships in Athletics: Aug. 10-18
For the sports world, 2013 has no Olympics or major soccer tournament on the calendar. Of course, there are the usual annual championships, except possibly no NHL playoffs. However, at least there is the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) biennial championship for track and field in Moscow.
Elections in Germany: September-October
Germans are to go to the polls in September or October. According to the polls, Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition is in the lead but well short of majority support. Expect her handling of the European economic crisis to be a major issue.
G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia: Sept. 5-6
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts the eighth summit of G20 leaders and he's put investment financing and debt reduction at the top of the agenda. According to a Russian media report, economist Mikhail Khazin thinks "Russia has a unique chance to unveil its solution to the global financial crisis" at the summit. For Putin, it may be a chance to improve his tarnished international reputation.
Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador leadership convention: Nov. 15-17
The convention, set for St. John's, is still 11 months away but the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring, interim leader Dwight Ball, did so in 2011. Businessman Paul Antle might run but he wants a later convention date. The winner will also become opposition leader but the Liberals are third in the polls, trailing both Kathy Dunderdale's ruling Conservatives and the NDP.
50 years since the Kennedy assassination: Nov. 22
Many anniversaries will be marked during 2013 — including more bicentennials for War of 1812 events and sesquicentennial events for the U.S. civil war — but marking the 50th anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas may well be the biggest.