The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 8 May 2017

Election

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Centre stage

It’s refreshing to see Macron win when he’s avoided following the herd.

France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, is everything a politician in 2017 is not supposed to be. The man who last night defeated the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, winning almost two-thirds of the vote, is a former banker who is a product of France’s elite education system. He is pro-European, pro-refugee and –­ in an age where much of the political focus is on those “left behind” – he refuses to offer easy solutions such as keeping open failing factories. “I am all for denouncing the current political system,” he told Monocle earlier this year, “but I try to do so with rational arguments and by discussing facts.” At a time when the populist right has found success by offering easy answers, it’s uplifting to see a liberal politician succeed without following suit.

Read Emmanuel Macron’s full interview with Monocle here.

Politics

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Return of Barack

Obama’s reappearance on the international stage will reaffirm his engagement with healthcare and green issues.

Barack Obama is set to appear at the Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan today, in his first public appearance outside the US since leaving the White House. He’ll deliver the keynote address regarding the impact of climate change on food production, which is in line with his – and Michelle’s – dedication to environmental and health causes. Just days after an event in Chicago (pictured) where he announced a project for a library, Obama is making it clear that he’s still committed to the issues that he focused on throughout his tenure in office. He has so far refrained from directly rebuking Donald Trump’s erratic policies, many of which have worked to dismantle his legacy, but his return to public life and the causes he’s long championed is a welcome sight for many.

Government

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Up and at ’em

South Korea’s new president won’t be able to rest on any laurels: the job starts on Wednesday.

It’s a whirlwind week for South Korea as voters head to the polls tomorrow to pick a new president. The Democratic party candidate Moon Jae-in is the favourite to win after losing out to Park Geun-hye in 2012 but then going on to become a vocal critic during the public protests that led to Park’s impeachment. With North Korean relations on a knife edge the next leader will have little time for popping champagne corks or downing soju; the inauguration is scheduled for Wednesday. “The new president faces several delicate challenges from the get-go: appointing a prime minister the government will approve of, resuming international diplomacy and avoiding any missteps with the US,” says Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

On the right track

East Berlin’s trams are finally making their way west to fill gaps in the network.

In many ways the divide between east and west Berlin remains – particularly when it comes to public transport. Decades ago, when the city was still divided by the Cold War, West Berlin did away with its streetcars, opting to put its resources into trains and buses; meanwhile the network in East Berlin kept rattling along. Now the German capital is looking to expand the tram routes into the city’s western districts to supplement the existing subway and bus services, and plug gaps in the transport network. The first three networks are expected to be completed by 2021; by the time the project is complete there will be seven.

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