The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 19 April 2018

Elections

Image: Getty Images

Sound bite

The Mexican politician leading the country’s election race is hoping a crowded field will work to his advantage in a televised debate.

With Mexico’s 1 July elections on the horizon, all eyes are on the first of the televised debates due to take place in Mexico City this Sunday. The topic? The pertinent question of security and corruption. There will likely be questions on whether frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador will offer amnesty to criminals, as he has previously hinted at, or whether third-place contender José Antonio Meade will take a tougher line on corruption. López Obrador is no policy wonk so “a debate that has a spotlight on him is crucial”, said Reforma columnist Jorge Suárez-Vélez at a panel discussion hosted by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas in New York on Wednesday. But with five candidates, including the controversial late addition of Jaime “El Bronco” Rodríguez Calderón, alongside three moderators at the debate could work in his favour – he’ll be talking less.

Design

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New dimensions

Monocle’s Design editor Nolan Giles has got his feet under the table at Salone del Mobile and would like to draw your attention to the small but perfectly formed.

Salone del Mobile in Milan, which is on now until Sunday, is known for the launches of large and luxurious new pieces from the world’s furniture giants. But this year it’s works on a smaller scale that are grabbing attention. With housing in most cities becoming less affordable and many urban dwellers opting for good location over large homes, furniture companies such as Cassina are adding perfectly sized pieces to their line-up to cater for a changing demand. A highlight of the Italian company’s launches this year was the reissuing of furniture by French designer Charlotte Perriand, which was originally made for students living in close confines in the Maison du Mexique at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris during the mid-century. Finland’s Nikari is also addressing the need for fine but highly functional pieces for more compact homes: Separat, its timber wall divider, has been a particular hit here.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Let the right one in

Japan’s premier travel agency is partnering with 7-Eleven to make checking in for tourists more convenient – but unregulated rentals will be left out in the cold.

Japan’s convenience stores are gearing up for a new law in June that is designed to regulate the booming – and often contentious – market in short-term private rentals. 7-Eleven has just announced a new service it will be offering with Japan’s largest travel agency, JTB, which will allow guests to check in at convenience stores 24 hours a day. Dedicated terminals equipped with a camera will scan passports to confirm the identity of guests who will then be given a key. In compliance with the new law, only properties registered with the local government will be able to participate. 7-Eleven says there will 1,000 terminals in time for the 2020 Olympics. Two of the other big convenience-store chains, Lawson and FamilyMart, say that they will be following suit.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Swapping notes

Wine exports are on the up down under as China’s thirst for Aussie plonk continues to go unquenched.

Australia’s wine industry should be in high spirits this week as the nation’s wine-export regulator has announced that exports have hit a 10-year high, reaching AU$2.65bn (€1.67bn). The growth is largely credited to Australian wine’s rapidly increasing popularity with the Chinese market, where exports are up more than 50 per cent over last year – the country now accounts for about half of Australia’s total wine exports. The boost can be credited at least in part to slashed tariffs on Aussie plonk; they’re set to be removed completely by the start of 2019 as part of a free-trade agreement signed in 2015. Despite this heady expansion, the industry is taking careful steps to ensure that it remains on the up. Earlier this month the regulator imposed new rules to stop copycat wine brands from heading overseas to better protect the industry’s reputation for quality.

From Monocle 24

Image: Shutterstock

The Commonwealth: a members’ club worth joining?

The Foreign Desk

As the Commonwealth Games draw to a close, and the Commonwealth heads of government meeting opens, Andrew Mueller asks if it is a happy family of democracies or just the ghost of a past empire. With Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Shruti Kapila, Bisi Alimi and Euripides Evriviades, the high commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus.

From Monocle Films

Barcelona: The Monocle Travel Guide

The Catalan capital boasts a singular character. Venturing beyond the tourist-beaten track, join us on a cinematic tour of fairytale architecture and independent retailers, as well as the innovative restaurants bringing a modern touch to Catalan cuisine. Available now at The Monocle Shop.

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