The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 6 March 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Left out in the cold

Italy’s populist parties have smothered the centre-left. Can the Democratic party move on?

Populist and right-wing parties have come out on top in Italy’s general elections. But equally important is that the centre-left has lost spectacularly. With only 18 per cent of total votes, the Democratic party (PD), achieved a historically low result. Former prime minister and party leader Matteo Renzi has (rather predictably) had to resign – just as well, given that he seems not to have learnt the lesson of his failed referendum of little more than a year ago, which prompted him to quit as PM. The party’s support has eroded, especially among its leftist core, and Renzi stubbornly clinging to the leadership hasn’t helped. The PD needs to make time for profound reflection: if the party appoints one of Renzi’s “regents” and doesn’t move on, the Italian centre-left will truly suffer.

Business

Branching out

Panasonic goes from white goods to lifestyle guru with a new shop in the Japanese capital.

Most people are aware of Panasonic’s appliances: televisions, cameras, washing machines and rice cookers. But now the Osaka-based company is trying to reposition itself as a lifestyle brand with a new community studio in Tokyo. Relife Studio Futako, as the space is named, opens on 10 March and is a collaboration with Japan’s Culture Convenience Club (CCC), operator of Daikanyama Tsutaya Books (pictured). Panasonic has recreated living spaces within the studio to better present a more rounded view of the brand – and perhaps drum up business for its home-renovations unit. There’s a kitchen with an inductive-heating stove that doubles as a dining table, a bath resembling a hot tub and a bedroom with humidity, lighting and acoustic controls. Unlike the usual Panasonic showroom, the shop will include non-electronic products, such as skincare from Shiseido, bedding by Tokyo Nishikawa and a selection of books and homeware chosen by CCC.

Defence

Image: Shutterstock

Need for speed

A new era of closer European co-operation has dawned, with EU defence ministers meeting to discuss increased agility.

Today EU defence ministers will meet at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels to discuss how to limber up European security. The meeting will be chaired by the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini (pictured), and will kick off with a discussion on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco), the newly-minted structural integration of most EU nations’ militaries (Malta, Denmark and the UK have opted out). Alongside the discussion of Pesco, the defence ministers will cover the EU Global Strategy, which will be deploying missions to the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia. But old alliances won’t be forgotten either: Rose Gottemoeller, the deputy secretary general of Nato, will be on hand for a lunch with the defence ministers as well.

Environment

Image: Getty Images

Taking action

Edmonton launches its own climate-change conference in the hopes of uniting other cities against the issue.

Alberta’s capital Edmonton is throwing its hat into the climate-change debate with the inaugural three-day Cities and Climate Change Science Conference. The event, which started yesterday, has welcomed 800 delegates and mayors from around the world. The main aim of the conference is to help cities take charge and lead climate-change action themselves. It was the brainchild of Edmonton’s mayor, Don Iveson, who was inspired by his attendance of the UN Climate Change Conference in 2016. Some attendees see it as not only a way to address a growing problem but also an area where political divides can be bridged on a city level. “This is not a partisan issue when it comes to cities,” says Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh. “Mayors, both Democrat and Republican, understand the challenges and the potential damages of climate change and we really have no other choice but to address it.”

From Monocle 24

Image: Erik Charlton

Dave Eggers

Season premiere: The Big Interview

Eggers is the author behind bestselling books ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’, ‘What is the What’ and ‘The Circle’. He is also a journalist, editor, graphic designer, artist and the founder of independent publishing company McSweeney’s, which produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing and a monthly magazine. He talks about his work, influences and more.

From Monocle Films

Making it in the city: Vienna’s ateliers

Vienna provided the perfect backdrop for the second instalment of The Monocle Quality of Life Conference in 2016. Monocle Films paid a visit to six of our favourite ateliers and discovers that you can create jobs and wealth with downtown workshops – and the sound of the odd hammer.

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