The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 9 October 2017

Politics

Image: Reuters

Independence fray

A referendum for greater autonomy to be held by two Italian regions sparks concerns of creeping populism.

Italy’s northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto are preparing for their own independence referendum later this month. Those fearing a Catalonia-style standoff need not worry: the aim of the referendum is not to achieve secession but rather to gain semi-autonomous status. Yet some still believe there’s a reason for concern. The referendum was called by two prominent members of the right wing Northern League – a xenophobic party whose agenda was notoriously to guarantee full independence for the regions of Northern Italy. Though that hardline rhetoric has been softened over the years, some worry this referendum could be the first step towards more radical requests. As innocuous as the consequences of the referendum may seem, it’s hard not to feel the vote is still somewhat symbolic of a creep towards self-interested populism that’s spreading across Europe.

Government

Image: PA Images

Party crashers

Newly formed Party of Hope unveils its first order of business: dethrone Japan’s prime minister.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has set an ambitious target for her newly formed political party Kibo no To (Party of Hope): defeat prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) in the 22 October lower-house elections. She’s already unveiled a to-do list for her party if the LDP is ousted. It’s long and includes weaning Japan off its nuclear power dependency by 2030, opposing a consumption-tax hike and debating the merits of revising the postwar pacifist Constitution. But voters might not be swayed by the agenda given Koike’s decision not to run for a seat in parliament herself, which means it’s still unclear who would represent the party as prime minister if her party were to prevail.

Citizenship

Image: Getty Images

Immigration relaxation

Canada’s softening of its citizenship rules proves a welcome contrast to policies south of the border.

Canada has decided to loosen up. This week more flexible citizenship rules will take effect as Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government relaxes regulations that had previously been “barriers” to gaining permanent residency. Ahmed Hussen, the immigration, refugees and citizenship minister, announced the changes – which include reducing the time someone must spend in the country before they’re eligible to apply for citizenship and relaxing the language requirements – last week. “The previous government had deliberately put obstacles, real barriers, to citizenship for permanent residents,” he said at an event in Brampton, Ontario. “Those barriers were unnecessary.” Though the changes are more tweaks than an overhaul of the immigration system, the move is still a welcome contrast to those coming from south of the border.

Leadership

Image: Getty Images

Coming on strong

Chinese president Xi Jinping is to push for leadership consolidation soon after Taiwan’s national day celebration.

Taiwan will be in party mode tomorrow as the island celebrates its national day – but don’t expect China to send any diplomatic best wishes. It’s a particularly sensitive time across the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two countries: Chinese president Xi Jinping is expected to use next week’s 19th national congress to consolidate his leadership of the country in his second five-year term. Xi has previously expressed his desire to unify the two Chinas as early as 2021. However, the prospect of him achieving this without force seems remote. Just last month newly-installed Taiwanese prime minister William Lai (pictured) stoked tensions when he declared his support for independence – the first person in his position to do so publicly.

From Monocle 24

Rethinking food and drink

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