Tuesday 27 December 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 27/12/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Andrew Harnik/PA

Unhappy outcome

In about three weeks Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the US – and his mandate will be one of the weakest in history. After winning only 46.2 per cent of the vote, Trump will be governing with the lowest percentage of the popular vote than all but a handful of previous presidents. As divisive as the campaign was, the transition has done very little to breed confidence in Trump; according to Gallup, his favorability rating is at 37 per cent, trailing behind those of past president-elects. Trump has pledged to be a president for all Americans. But no matter what he says from the steps of the Capitol on 20 January – from defence to diplomacy and healthcare – the majority of Americans will be listening to a president they did not choose.

Image: Getty Images

Not all doom

While few can deny the scale of the political upheaval that took place across Europe this year, there is little doubt that 2017 will be any less tumultuous. Though the UK voted to leave the EU this year, 2017 is when formal negotiations – and all the ugliness that’s likely to accompany them – will begin. France, Germany and the Netherlands will all deal with elections that are sure to be fraught – and fought – with populist anti-EU fervour. Yet there’s reason to hope that populism won’t win across the board; this month Austrians proved that the far right isn’t a foregone conclusion just yet. The realities of both Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory could very well act as a wake-up call to the liberal-leaning voters who might have otherwise been complacent in their own elections.

Image: Nikolay Vinokurov/Alamy

Short-lived glory

Read a certain way, 2016 worked out pretty well for Russian president Vladimir Putin. His preferred candidate, Donald Trump, won the US presidential election (helped a little, perhaps, by Russian hackers), while the EU began to fracture and the populist parties he backed, from France to Hungary, grew in influence. In Syria, too, Russia appeared to come out on top, using its military might to boost Bashar al-Assad at the expense of the rebels. But those perceived successes mask some major problems. Russia’s economy continues to suffer, its military is overstretched and it has very few diplomatic allies. Putin’s actions are often viewed by western commentators as perfectly thought-out strategic moves; in truth, he is as short-term and tactical as every other leader. In 2017, his luck may run out.

Image: Getty Images

Clinging on

Few world leaders will be looking forward to 2017 as much as the Chinese president with the 19th National Congress on the way and an opportunity to change the leadership of the Communist party. With the majority of the Politburo Standing Committee expected to retire, Xi Jinping will have plenty of empty seats to fill with loyal supporters. Xi’s chosen successor will be among these, although rumours are already circulating about his intention to rule beyond 2022. In addition to wanting to stay in power, Xi has another reason to want to put off retirement – his own anti-corruption campaign broke the unwritten understanding that ex-Politburo members are above scrutiny.

Image: Andrew Urwin

Culture: best of 2016

Robert Bound and producer Holly Fisher sit down to discuss their Culture highlights from the past year.

Fighting the freeze

Monocle Films travels to northern Norway for an exclusive insight into Cold Response, Nato’s gruelling cold-weather military-training exercise.


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