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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 5 December 2016

Cheerio, Matteo

It looks as though Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has lost both his pride and his job after Italy voted “no” to constitutional reform in a nationwide referendum yesterday. Renzi said he would resign if the country voted against his proposed changes to streamline the governing of the country by changing its antiquated constitution, which was designed to safeguard against fascism and has prevented all but one government completing a full term in office in the past 50 years. The verdict will be troubling to those of a liberal inclination given that the No vote – spearheaded by Italy’s Five Star Movement – represents another move towards a Europe in which populist right-leaning fraction parties hold more sway.

Image: Karen Minasyan/Getty Images

Who are the big guns?

Released every December by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (Bicc) with financial support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Global Militarization Index (GMI) measures the priority that countries place on military expenditure. That is, rather than measuring expenditure on its own, the index looks at it in relation to health spending, population, GDP and even the number of military and paramilitary relative to the number of doctors. So while the US came 31st, Israel took the top spot, with Singapore and Armenia coming second and third. The latter has had the highest GMI ranking in Europe for more than a decade (hardly surprising with the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict) and forms part of a worrying trend among small European nations, such as Cyprus and Estonia, whose comparative spending exceeds the norm.

Image: Shuji Kajiyama/PA

Following the money

Since Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike took office in August she has championed greater transparency within the metropolitan government. That’s to be expected given the financial scandals that led to the resignation of her two predecessors but she has proven more hostile than expected towards the city’s vested interests. She has ordered a review of spending for the 2020 Olympics, questioned the relocation of Tokyo’s central fish market and allowed TV broadcasters to record the government’s day-to-day discussions. Her latest target: an annual ¥20bn (€165m) pool of funds that political parties in the metropolitan assembly have traditionally divvied up and doled out to organisations and the private sector. Koike has called for an end to the “special budget quota” and urged the public to keep an eye on the assembly. “Maintaining the status quo would be easy,” she told reporters. “But in terms of politics, the economy and social issues, we would go backwards.” It also wouldn’t be so entertaining to watch.

Image: Ian Trowler/Alamy

Graphic portrayal

Last week the Swiss art school that’s hosted illustrious graphic designers such as Veronica Ditting and Ludovic Balland opened its exhibition Ecal Graphic Design at the Hong Kong Design Institute. Lausanne's University of Art and Design has long been at the top of its game and this showcase, based on the eponymous book by Gavillet & Rust studio, presents the work of its students in an interactive display of typography and design, organised by colours and curated by Adrien Rovero. “The selected works are focused on how each piece fits into the whole exhibition,” says Ecal's director Alexis Georgacopoulos. Two further reasons to pay the Institute a visit: the solo shows by industrial designer Konstantin Grcic and Pritzker award-winning architect Rafael Moneo.

From Monocle 24

Image: Kim Siciliano

Edible Canada

How Canadian Eric Pateman is trying to make his country’s food better known worldwide through a culinary tourism business that also boasts restaurants and shops.

From Monocle Films

Urban provocations

Monocle’s second Quality of Life Conference kicked off in Vienna with a set of urban provocations. Here are our top 10 city fixes.

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