Thursday. 17/1/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Delicate balance

Does the rise of the far-right in Andalusia point to a wider shift in Spanish society?

For the past 36 years Spain’s autonomously governed region of Andalusia has been a southern stronghold for the Socialist Workers’ party. But, today, that all changes. The government currently settling into office in Seville is a mash-up of liberals, conservatives and MPs from Vox, a far-right group that caused a stir in December by snatching 12 of 109 seats in the parliament of Andalusia. For some, the rise of Vox is the canary in the mine signifying rising levels of anti-immigration sentiment in the area. It’s a development that Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez ought to be watching carefully as his country stages local, regional and European elections this year. Amid the bitter immigration rows engulfing various European countries, Spain has been among the most welcoming to immigrants. Sánchez must make sure that this reputation for tolerance doesn’t bubble over into fear and a hard lurch to the right.

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics

Culture clash

The US is worried about China’s increasing global reach – and we should all be concerned by the two powers’ contrasting approaches to diplomacy.

The Pentagon has released a new appraisal of China’s emerging military might amid an increase in geopolitical jostling between the superpowers. Key areas of concern are the possibility of a Chinese attack on Taiwan and the battle for domination of the new theatres of war: outer-space and cyberspace. Beijing is highly strategic; the Trump administration is displaying a lack of coherency. “Trump appears to be gearing up to spend $1trn (€877bn) on renewing the US nuclear strikeforce in a way that would make even the most conservative Republicans blanch,” says Robert Fox, a senior fellow at King's College London’s Department of War Studies. “China is branching out to establish itself in real key strategic areas like Central America, Djibouti and port and garrison facilities in Pakistan. What you see is a very coherent approach.”

Image: Shutterstock

Business

Ticking along nicely

The Swiss watchmaking industry is recovering after a tough couple of years – and just in time for Geneva’s international show.

While the Swiss watch industry isn’t as lucrative as it once was, last year saw a timely uptick in the value of exports, enabling watchmakers to save face at this year’s gathering of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva. The latest figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry show a 7.1 per cent increase in the value of exports in the past year and Richemont, the world’s second-largest luxury-goods group, announced a 5 per cent rise in quarterly sales. The recovery marks a return to form after 2016 and 2017 where a slowdown of sales in China (following a clampdown on gifting) and a drop in watch-buying tourists visiting European cities (following terror attacks) hampered industry growth.

Image: Shutterstock

Sport

Weight on its shoulders

Following its champion’s retirement, Japan’s sumo business is wrestling with the idea that it lacks homegrown talent.

Sumo’s top brass have long been concerned about the dearth of Japan-born grand champions, or Yokozuna. So there was much delight when Kisenosato, a 177kg wrestler from Ibaraki, was elevated to sumo’s highest rank in 2017, the first Japanese Yokozuna in 19 years. Yesterday, however, Kisenosato’s run at the top came to end when he announced his retirement midway through sumo’s new year tournament in Tokyo. At a packed press conference, the bulky champion came close to tears as he thanked fans for their support, saying that a run of injuries meant he felt he couldn’t continue. With his departure there are now two remaining wrestlers with the title – but they are both from Mongolia. With young Japanese turning away from the sport, there could be a long wait for the next Japan-born champ.

Image: Fulvio Spada

Turin, Quadrilatero

The Menu: Food Neighbourhoods

Monocle’s Chiara Rimella takes us on a tour of the Quadrilatero neighbourhood of Turin, a once-rough area that’s been transformed by the power of its restaurants.

The price of silver

Producers and retailers of luxury goods are waking up to the power of affluent seniors. We travel to Japan to meet the brands that are wise to the trend.

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