The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 16 October 2017

Election

Image: Getty Images

Eyes right

Conservative Sebastian Kurz wins election in Austria. But the far-right Freedom party makes significant gains.

Austrian foreign minister and new leader of the People’s party Sebastian Kurz claimed victory last night in the country’s parliamentary elections, after projections gave his party the lead with more than 90 per cent of the votes counted. But while many will focus on Kurz’s youthful exuberance (he is just 31, making him eight years younger than Emmanuel Macron), the result also revealed a shift to the right. Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache (pictured), took around a quarter of the vote, while the Greens looked to have suffered heavy losses. Europe’s far right has narrowly lost out in presidential elections in recent years, including in Austria – but, after Alternative for Germany’s strong showing a few weeks ago, it seems they are getting closer to power in parliamentary ones.

Retail

Image: Amanda Mustard

Get it together

The mother of all trade fairs is coming to Bangkok but nervous organisers will be keeping a close eye on numbers.

Buyers are arriving in Bangkok this week for the trade-fair equivalent of a rock supergroup. Opening tomorrow, the inaugural edition of Style will bring together Thailand’s existing furniture, fashion, leather, gift and homeware fairs under one roof. “It is a one-stop sourcing venue,” says Somdet Susomboon, deputy director-general of the Department of International Trade Promotion. The combined event comes in response to the rise of lifestyle retailers and select concept shops across the Thai capital. But organisers will be anxious. Slow footfall at the Thailand International Furniture Fair (Tiff) in March, which was compounded by a clash with similar events across Southeast Asia, raised doubts among participants about the fair’s viability. A decision on whether a standalone Tiff will continue in its traditional slot next year is expected soon.

Governance

Image: PA Images

Mind your language

Fiercely French-speaking Québec is hoping to benefit from the region’s economic boom by being more welcoming to anglophones.

Québec has come a long way since the independence referendum 20 years ago that saw separatists lose by less than half a percentage point. Back then, protecting the linguistic rights of the French-speaking Québécois was a central issue; now the province’s language picture is quite different. Last week its premier, Philippe Couillard, announced the establishment of a ministry for anglophone affairs focused on ensuring government services will be easily available in English as well as French. The move comes at a time when the number of residents saying they speak both languages fluently is on the rise for the first time in many years. But it also recognises that Québec, currently witnessing an economic boom driven by Montréal’s thriving technology and creative sectors, has to become more outward-looking.

Tourism

Image: Getty Images

Too hot to handle

Mount Agung’s aftershocks will be felt in Bali’s tourist-centric economy.

The tourism-dependent Indonesian island of Bali stands to lose roughly €70m due to the threat of a volcanic eruption, as planes to the island land half-full and hotels empty out. Tremors from Mount Agung in late September prompted authorities to raise alert levels and other nations to issue travel warnings. Although the island’s tourism hotspots lie a relatively safe 72km away from Agung, travellers more worried about flight disruptions than their own safety are being cautious. As such, with tourism representing 22 per cent of Bali’s economy, the crisis could have a big impact. But it is also a timely push for Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s latest “10 New Balis” development, which aims to transform 10 other sites around Indonesia into similarly lucrative tourist paradises.

From Monocle 24

Alexandre de Betak

The Big Interview

Alexandre de Betak is commonly referred to as “the Fellini of fashion” and it is easy to see why. For the past 25 years the Frenchman has been creating exuberant shows for the world’s best designers. He sat down with Monocle’s Jamie Waters to talk about supermodels, New York in the nineties and the changing role of the runway in the age of smartphones and social media.

From Monocle Films

Making it in Jakarta

Indonesia’s bounteous resources make it the perfect place for entrepreneurs to set up camp. We meet four enterprising Jakarta residents, who tell us how they are taking advantage of the opportunities in this chaotic city.

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