The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 4 May 2016

Image: Reuters

Give and take

Spanish democracy is stuck in a bind. Elections last December failed to produce a winner and despite four months of negotiations it has been impossible to agree a coalition. So after dissolving parliament King Felipe announced yesterday that voters will try again with fresh elections next month. But if the leaders of the four main parties haven’t changed and the divides between those parties haven’t been bridged, what makes anyone think the result – or the subsequent coalition talks – will be any different? Coalitions require compromise and given the polarised nature of Spanish politics it’s not surprising that the party leaders found it so difficult to make serious concessions first time around. Flexibility is not usually a trait that voters like to see in their leaders – but without it Spain may find itself without a government once again.

Image: Alamy

Economic upturn?

Much has been written about the doom and gloom enveloping Canada’s economy. The continuing slump in world oil and gas prices and a weakened Canadian dollar continue to fuel concerns. But according to several economic analysts there are bright spots to be found this week. Trade figures for the month of March are set to be released today and April’s employment numbers will be published on Friday. Both sets of data are predicted to show modest signs of growth despite the continuing tumult in Canada’s traditional energy sectors. Justin Trudeau’s government may be able to breathe a quiet sigh of relief but it will take longer to assess the sustainability of the prime minister’s borrow-to-grow economic agenda.

Image: Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

French fancies

The arts festival Le French May is in full swing in Hong Kong today with the opening of the city’s largest exhibition of paintings by the impressionist Claude Monet at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The long-running annual fair, overseen by the French consulate general, has come to dominate the cultural calendar in recent years. More than one million people are expected to view this year’s programme of 120 events, which stretches to the end of June and crosses borders into Shenzhen and Macau. Several European countries are supporting the growth of similar arts and cultural events in Hong Kong, including Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands but finding a non-Francophone dominated window can be tricky: Hong Kong closes out the year with the French Film Festival, which has been running since 1972.

Image: Getty Images

Costly day

Swinging through Barcelona for a day trip may be about to get a little more expensive. A city councillor for the Catalonian hotspot is advocating imposing a tourist tax on visitors who only spend the day. (The city already has a tourist tax on those who book accommodation.) The councillor, Gala Pin, has said that such a tax – which would mostly affect those decamping from cruise lines for a few hours or those who bus in with tour groups – would help the city cope with the costs that come with tourism, including cleaning and security. Though the day-trip tax was first floated and subsequently rejected in January, councillors are once again pushing for the levy, which could find new traction before the high summer season.

From Monocle 24

Image: Andres Putting

Eurovision 2016: Part 2

It’s all about Eurovision in our four-part series leading up to the competition in Stockholm on 14 May. Monocle’s Fernando Augusto Pacheco and Georgina Godwin welcome special guests that include columnist Mary Dejevsky and journalist Nick Duffy.

From Monocle Films

Let’s talk about it

Can good design cut through the babble? Who are the media players that still engage us in print and beyond? How can technology become less demanding and more friendly? And what happens when we stop meeting face to face? This film set up the digital-versus-analogue debate at Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference in Vienna.

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