The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 9 January 2019

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Name game

Angela Merkel is throwing her weight behind a change to Macedonia’s moniker ahead of a debate that could decide the future of Greece’s prime minister.

One of the longest-running disputes in European history could finally be resolved today. Politicians in Skopje are set for a third and final debate on appeasing Greece by renaming Macedonia the Republic of North Macedonia. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras will be watching closely: he has staked his ailing reputation on the deal and is facing a revolt over it. If an agreement is made, it will have to be ratified by Tsipras’s own parliament; a rejection at this stage could lead to a breakdown of his coalition and an end to his premiership. Tsipras is hoping that an appearance by German chancellor Angela Merkel might tip the balance in his favour: she flies in tomorrow to throw her support behind the name change. But, given Berlin’s role in imposing crippling austerity on Greece, it remains to be seen whether her presence will help or hinder his cause.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Demoted vote

Next month’s general election in Thailand… may not actually take place next month. Moreover, the excuse for the postponement is dubious.

Fresh doubt has been cast on Thailand’s long-overdue return to democracy now that deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has floated the possibility of postponing a general election that’s set for next month. According to the government, the latest delay would be to avoid any overlap between “post-poll activities” and the coronation of king Maha Vajiralongkorn in early May. The reasoning is far from convincing but the move isn’t exactly surprising. Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former general who ousted his democratically elected predecessor Yingluck Shinawatra in a 2014 coup, has repeatedly broken promises to hold elections. Moreover, Prayuth’s recently expressed interest in staying in politics has done little to instil optimism in those who would like to see an end to the junta.

Society

Warm feeling

An advertising firm in the Swedish capital is helping homeless people come in from the cold.

Homelessness is a global issue but, in the northern hemisphere, freezing winter nights make sleeping rough even more dangerous. To help tackle the problem, Stockholm has introduced a way to guide homeless people to the closest shelter using existing infrastructure: transforming street-level digital billboards into maps that show the locations of emergency shelters and kitchens. When temperatures dip below minus 7C, 53 billboards owned by Clear Channel will forego advertising and instead display where the nearest shelters are, as well as information on how to volunteer and donate to charities. It’s a simple intervention that could save lives – and can be replicated in other cities with ease.

Fashion

Clothes maketh the man

Italy’s Pitti Uomo is shining a spotlight on Portuguese brands, proving the country is a design hub as well as a production powerhouse.

Some 30,000 buyers and editors have gathered in Florence for Pitti Uomo, which this year is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a pioneering menswear tradeshow. For the rest of this week, fashionistas will peruse the stands of about 1,200 brands at the stately Fortezza da Basso, as well as attending one-off events and runway shows across the city (the headline act is Parisian label Y/Project). As well as excellent outdoor-wear pavilion ‘I Go Out’, we’ll be paying close attention to two countries that are being celebrated with special stands. The Tokyo Fashion award spotlights six young Japanese brands (including Cinoh), while Pitti’s guest nation this season is Portugal: its showcase of eight Portuguese labels is a timely reminder that the European country has design talent as well as manufacturing clout.

From Monocle 24

Image: Paul / Flickr

Premier House

The Urbanist: Tall Stories

This week we head to Wellington where, nestled into the side of a hill and on a quiet suburban street, you can find Premier House – the official residence of the country’s prime minister.

From Monocle Films

The happiness formula

Our latest issue of ‘The Forecast’ celebrates the elements of urban life that surpass the ordinary: from leaping headlong into a lake, getting a little competitive or bunking off work early, here are a few simple gratifying steps to keep you smiling. Enjoy.

/

sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Print magazine subscriptions start from £55.

Subscribe now

Loading...

/

15

15

Live

00:00 01:00