South Africa’s critical test

This year, the African National Congress – which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid – picks a new leader. But their embattled president, Jacob Zuma, will leave a legacy of scandal, corruption allegations and a sluggish economy. Gideon Rachman discusses the future of Africa’s largest economy with the FT’s Africa editor David Pilling, and South Africa correspondent Joseph Cotterill.

The fate of the euro

With economic growth reviving in the eurozone, is the euro crisis now over, or is this just a lull before another euro storm? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Claire Jones, FT correspondent in Frankfurt, and Martin Sandbu, economics commentator.

Trump travel ban sparks global backlash

Donald Trump’s controversial visa ban has led to chaos at airports and condemnation from abroad. What are the consequences – at home and overseas – of this unprecedented move by the new president? Daniel Dombey, the FT’s deputy world news editor, discusses the question with Washington bureau chief Demetri Sevastopulo and Erika Solomon, Middle East correspondent.

France decides: battle for Élysée takes shape

The list of contenders for France’s 2017 election will be finalised this week, as the socialists choose their candidate on Sunday. Gideon Rachman discusses what is set to be an unpredictable and closely fought battle for the presidency with Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, the FT’s Paris bureau chief, and former bureau chief Hugh Carnegy.

Trade, Trump and Brexit

This week, UK prime minister Theresa May laid out her plans for a ‘hard’ Brexit, as US president-elect Donald Trump expressed doubts about the EU’s future and promised a ‘quick’ US-UK trade deal. How feasible would such a deal be? And is the west retreating from a free trade model that has taken decades to roll out? Daniel Dombey, the FT’s Brexit editor, discusses with Brussels bureau chief Alex Barker and FT world trade editor Shawn Donnan.

Trump’s confirmation hearings: nominees in the spotlight

A series of confirmation hearings for president-elect Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet nominees began in the Senate this week, with Democrats eager to grill candidates. How smooth is the process likely to be and who is vulnerable? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Courtney Weaver, the FT’s White House correspondent, and Barney Jopson, the US policy correspondent in Washington.

Turkey battles political turmoil and terrorists

The new year began with a terrorist attack on a nightclub in Istanbul which left 39 dead – the latest blow to hit a country still reeling from the aftermath of a failed coup last year and the political purges that followed. Gideon Rachman discusses Turkey’s prospects with Daniel Dombey and Mehul Srivastava

How will the events of 2016 play out in the coming year?

Daniel Dombey asks Gideon Rachman, the FT’s chief foreign affairs columnist, and Fred Studemann, features editor, how the big events of 2016 – Brexit, the US election, and Syria – will play out on the world stage in the coming year.

Trump’s Taiwan foray

Donald Trump created a diplomatic storm earlier this month by speaking on the telephone to Taiwan’s leader – the first such official communication since 1979. He then suggested he might ditch US adherence to the One China policy – a bedrock of ties between the two world powers. Does he really mean to change US policy and if so what will the consequences be for US-China ties? Ben Hall puts the question to the FT’s James Kynge and Demetri Sevastopulo.

Cuba after Castro

Will Fidel Castro’s influence over Cuba outlast his death, and will the Trump presidency reverse the detente with the US begun by Barack Obama? Gideon Rachman puts these questions to John Paul Rathbone, the FT’s Latin America editor, and Geoff Dyer, Washington correspondent.

Fillon is surprise favourite of French conservative voters

François Fillon, a former prime minister, looks on course to become the surprise presidential candidate of the centre-right in next year’s French presidential elections. James Wilson asks Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, Paris correspondent, and Ben Hall, world news editor, what his appeal is and how he would fare in a contest against the far-right populist leader Marine Le Pen.

Donald Trump and Europe: friend or foe?

Does the election victory of Donald Trump represent an opportunity or a threat to Europe? Gideon Rachman discusses the mixed reaction across the continent with George Parker, the FT’s political editor in London, and diplomatic correspondent Arthur Beesley in Brussels.

Trump win stuns America’s allies

Donald Trump’s momentous victory has stunned America’s allies but also delighted populists and strongmen leaders around the world, notably Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Ben Hall discusses the world response with Gideon Rachman and Guy Chazan.

China’s return to strongman rule

Chinese president Xi Jinping was anointed as the “core” leader of the Communist party last week, paving the way for a return to strongman rule. So is China moving towards a more autocratic system? Gideon Rachman discusses the question with the FT’s Beijing correspondent Lucy Hornby, and James Kynge, former bureau chief in the capital.

The EU’s trade conundrum

Wallonia, a Belgian region, has rejected the proposed Ceta trade deal with Canada, all but torpedoing the agreement for good. What does this mean for the EU’s trade liberalisation agenda, transatlantic trade and the UK’s Brexit negotiations? The FT’s world news editor Ben Hall speaks with Brussels bureau chief Alex Barker and our diplomatic correspondent, Arthur Beesley.

Putin: opportunist or master strategist?

Vladimir Putin has been playing brinkmanship in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Is the Russian president a master strategist or are his moves merely opportunistic? Gideon Rachman discusses the question with Neil Buckley the FT’s East Europe editor.

South Africa’s political turmoil

South Africa has been shaken by news that the country’s respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan is facing fraud charges in what appears to be the latest episode in a power struggle with President Jacob Zuma and his allies. Many suspect the charges are trumped up and designed to give Mr Zuma total control of the levers of power. Ben Hall discusses what happens next with Joseph Cotterill and Andrew England

Theresa May’s Brexit vision

At the UK Conservative party conference this week we got a clearer sense of Theresa May’s Brexit vision, with the prime minister announcing that the process for leaving the bloc will be formally set in motion early next year. So what are the implications at this stage for Britain – and for Europe? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Daniel Dombey, the FT’s Brexit editor, and Brussels bureau chief Alex Barker.

Renzi’s big test

This week Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, set a date in December for his high-stakes referendum on constitutional reform. The vote will determine the political future of a leader already struggling with painful party defeats in local elections, troubles in Italy’s banking system and a persistently weak economy. Ben Hall discusses with James Politi, the FT’s Italy correspondent and Europe news editor Joshua Chaffin.