Monday. 21/10/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Gambling on youth

It’s election day in Canada and, if the opinion polls are correct, the country’s next government will be decided on a knife edge. According to the latest figures, Justin Trudeau, who is seeking a second term in government, is neck and neck with Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative party.

Two factors could prove decisive today. First, the turnout has already broken the record for early voting in a Canadian federal election: some 4.7 million citizens (out of an electorate of about 26 million) cast their ballots last week. That’s thanks, in part, to a boost in the number of polling stations across the country, particularly on university campuses.

And that brings us to factor two: younger Canadians. They were pivotal in Trudeau’s landslide victory four years ago, when 57 per cent of eligible voters aged between 18 and 24 went to the polls, up from 39 per cent in 2011. But any politician relying on the youth vote does so at their own risk: this age group is frequently the subject of finger-wagging for not showing up on election day. Either way, they will be a crucial element in the result of today’s poll. For better or worse, Canada’s 2019 election campaign has been remarkable – and the surprises might not be over yet.

Business / Saudi Arabia

World’s biggest flop?

After three long years of wrangling, this week should have seen the start of formal proceedings for what would have been the world’s largest IPO. But the much-hyped flotation of up to 3 per cent of Saudi Aramco has been put on ice once again. The delay is supposedly an attempt to give the state-owned oil group time to reassure investors that last month’s drone attack on two key facilities will not affect the company’s underlying financials. But there’s a bigger problem: a lack of appetite for buying into a company that Riyadh has valued at €1.8trn – a staggering number that many believe is overinflated. There are also questions about state interference, regional conflict, human rights and the long-term profitability of oil. As WeWork recently learned, self-belief is one thing but IPOs have a funny way of bringing companies back down to earth.

Politics / Indonesia

What will Widodo do next?

Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will be looking for a fresh start after the inauguration of his second term in Jakarta yesterday. In recent weeks, street violence has taken some of the shine off of the former carpenter’s re-election in May. Student demonstrators, prompted by the introduction of several controversial laws rushed through by the outgoing parliament, clashed with police in bloody scenes repeated across the world’s largest Muslim country.

Jokowi is expected to prioritise education and foreign investment during his final term, starting with an injection of youth into his cabinet (reported to include the founder of the Indonesian Uber-style unicorn Go-Jek). But kickstarting the country’s faltering economy faces plenty of obstacles. Chief among them is unrest in Papua and a parliament intent on ending direct presidential elections to stop another political outsider rising to the top in 2024.

Transport / Global

New rules on the waves

News about international shipping rarely makes waves but a set of strict environmental targets for vessels could bring about a sea change in the industry. New regulations from the International Maritime Organization, which come into effect on 1 January, will force more heavily polluting ships to reduce their sulphur emissions by about 80 per cent. Malcolm Grimston, an honorary senior research fellow at the Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology, tells us that these new rules “will allow marine systems to thrive and also help protect some of the world’s most important buildings and monuments from the damaging effects of sulphur dioxide”. US and European firms should be able to master the new terms without too much fuss, says Grimston, “but this measure will force maritime offenders to improve the way they operate”.

Society / Vatican City

Faith in technology

From the launch of the Pope’s Instagram page in 2016 to last year’s release of Follow JC Go! (a Bible-themed version of mobile game Pokémon Go), the Catholic Church is trying its best to reach a younger, technology-savvy generation. Its latest move came last week in the form of eRosary. Similar to a Fitbit, the rosary is worn as a bracelet and comprises 10 beads and a metal cross that detects movement. The bracelet syncs with a smartphone app called Click to Pray, whereby users can log their worship activity and join a “social prayer platform”. As the number of Catholics shrinks rapidly in Europe and other western nations, time (and sales figures) will tell whether such quirky, youthful strategies can really help the Vatican turn things around.

M24 / The Stack

‘Interview: 50 Years’

We speak to Nick Haramis, editor in chief of ‘Interview’ magazine, about the title’s 50th anniversary and its new book, ‘Interview: 50 Years’. We also head to Frankfurt Book Fair and speak to the founder of ‘Hot Potato’.

Monocle Films / Spain

Madrid: The Monocle Travel Guide

Madrid has thrown off the shackles of tradition: what was once a buttoned-down bastion of conservatism has become Spain’s unabashed centre of the avant-garde. Monocle films visits the city to discover a melting pot of talent, taste and tenacity. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Madrid is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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