Friday. 22/10/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Falling stars

Municipal elections are traditionally seen as a litmus test for a country’s political mood. But as the curtain closed this week on the second, and final, round of local votes in Italy, how many answers can be gleaned ahead of the 2023 general election?

Most people have decided to frame the results as a triumph for the centre-left over a vociferous coalition on the right. But that conclusion might be a bit rushed: the voting process saw a record level of abstention, which makes matters very hard to assess. Then there’s the perhaps stereotypical – but nonetheless relevant – consideration of the volatility of politics in the Bel Paese. If we think back to far-right Lega leader Matteo Salvini’s seemingly unstoppable rise in 2019, compared with his presently stunted career, we can safely assume that much can, and probably will, change in the two years to come.

There is, however, a message that stands out amid the complex factors behind the result: the all-but-inevitable demise of the Five-Star Movement. Ever since prime minister Giuseppe Conte was ousted to make way for arch-technocrat Mario Draghi, the populist movement has been floundering in the polls. Its anti-establishment message lost appeal during the pandemic as people sought refuge in the reassuring competence of the experts they had previously reviled.

After this week’s results, the Five-Star Movement will be leading in only six towns with populations over 15,000 across the whole country. In Bologna and Milan it only mustered a paltry 3 per cent of the vote (stark when compared with the 67 per cent landslide that the party’s Virginia Raggi (pictured) won in Rome back in 2016). Poor management of city halls in the capital and in Turin has definitely had an effect on the movement’s nationwide reputation. It’s there that the most definitive line between local and national politics can be drawn.

Image: Getty Images

Media / US

Inconvenient truth

Donald Trump has announced plans to create a new media platform called Truth Social, which aims to “stand up to the tyranny of big tech”. Twitter and Facebook famously blocked the former US president’s musings earlier this year after his supporters stormed Capitol Hill. So, should we take Trump’s new offering seriously? “He wants to rival Twitter,” former US diplomat Lewis Lukens told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “It won’t do that but the platform looks a lot like Twitter and it’s going to have services made to counter what he calls the ‘liberal media consortium’ that he feels has been blocking him. Trump is interested in running for president again and he needs a way to reach his base quickly and easily. He doesn’t have that right now and this will be his way to do it.”

Image: Alamy

Culture / Norway

Stroke of genius

One of Scandinavia’s most eagerly anticipated cultural attractions opens its doors to the public today. Oslo’s Edvard Munch museum, previously located in Tøyen, has rebranded as Munch and moved to a new building on the Norwegian capital’s regenerated waterfront. The 13-floor structure designed by Spanish agency Estudio Herreros comprises 11 exhibition halls over 26,000 sq m, showcasing Munch’s entire life’s work.

More than 27,000 works were donated to Oslo by the artist’s estate, making Munch one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to a single person. Its creation was marred by controversies and setbacks, including political rows over the building’s location and design, and a lengthy delay due to the pandemic. With its grand spaces and an observation deck featuring panoramic views of the city, Munch has all the ingredients to become a must-visit attraction. Given the difficulties involved in its construction, civic leaders will be hoping that it’s a scream.

Image: PA Images

Space / South Korea

Star power

These days it seems as though every aspirational nation wants in on the space race. Which is perhaps unsurprising given that the space-exploration industry is currently worth about $350bn (€300bn). In mid-October, China launched its Shenzhou 13 human space mission, while India’s prime minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated the Indian Space Association.

This week, all interplanetary eyes were on South Korea, which yesterday launched its homegrown Nuri rocket (pictured). A show of might in the face of an unpredictable northern neighbour? Well, results were mixed, with the rocket failing in its attempt to send a dummy satellite into orbit. Still, the setback wasn’t enough to dampen president Moon Jae-in’s mood as he vowed the arrival of the “Korean Space Age”. Another test has been set for May next year.

Image: Alamy

Politics / Caribbean

Royal exchange

The Barbadian parliament has elected Sandra Mason (pictured) as the country’s first ever president, as the island prepares to transition into a republic. On 30 November the Caribbean nation will celebrate the 55th anniversary of its independence from the UK by removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. The government announced its plan to become a republic last year. Mason, who has been governor-general of Barbados since 2018, was also the first woman to serve in its Court of Appeals.

Some former British Caribbean colonies, such as Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, have already removed the royal as their head of state, while others, including Jamaica and the Bahamas, are still constitutional monarchies. Elizabeth remains the head of state of 15 countries worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But many commentators suggest that it won’t be long before one of these three also decides to sever ties with the British monarchy.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Irene Forte Skincare

Irene Forte is the founder of beauty label Irene Forte Skincare. A native of Italy, Forte has worked with skincare expert Francesca Ferri on the formulations, using natural ingredients from her family’s organic farm in Sicily, including prickly pear, lemon and hibiscus. Just a few years since an exclusive launch with Net-a-Porter, her products are now carried by more than 20 top retailers, including Liberty London and Nordstrom.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle Preview: November issue, 2021

Monocle’s picture-perfect November issue is a design special that sketches out the future of concrete and visits a Gio Ponti gem in Paris. Elsewhere, we take to the skies in an airship and tuck in to Berlin’s best Currywurst. Yum!

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