Thursday 30 June 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 30/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Ed Stocker

On dangerous ground

For political parties that like to agitate from the fringes, joining the mainstream can lead to severe complications. Just look at Italy’s populist Five Star Movement (M5S), which has been a signed-up member of the political establishment for some time now. Until recently it had the country’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio (pictured), among its ranks – but he left the movement a week ago, taking a group of politicians with him. Their departure highlights the discord at the heart of the party over ideological splits and divergences.

In general elections slated for next year, M5S is widely expected to take a clobbering. Others, such as the far-right Fratelli d’Italia, are expected to do well despite setbacks at Sunday’s local elections. Former prime minister Matteo Renzi has even questioned whether M5S can last much longer. “Do you really believe that the Five Stars will make it to the 2023 elections?” he said earlier this month. “They fight every day.”

Di Maio’s exit has a lot to do with internal divisions over the Ukraine war. Former prime minister and M5S capo Giuseppe Conte is against sending further arms, saying that a few more Italian weapons added to larger consignments from the US and UK would do little to help the “common cause”. Di Maio, conversely, has toed the government line.

So what does this all mean? Certainly more toxicity and infighting at the heart of Italian politics and possibly another early election. With rumours circulating that technocrat prime minister Mario Draghi wants Conte sacked from M5S, the big question is whether the fragile governing coalition would collapse as a result. It’s all a noisy distraction from Italy’s desire to play senior statesmen at this week’s summits in Germany and Spain.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor at large.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / Japan & South Korea

Air time

Yesterday saw travel between Tokyo’s Haneda and Seoul’s Gimpo airports finally resume. The route was popular before being shut down in the pandemic: two million passengers used it in 2019 and packed planes were flying back and forth 84 times a week until March 2020. For the restart, just four operators, including Japan Airlines and Korean Air, will be running eight return flights per week but the plan is to increase the capacity over the course of July. Since the pandemic began, the bilateral relationship between these two nations has not been at its best but that hasn’t stopped citizens from showing interest: earlier this month there were queues of hundreds of Japanese people at South Korea’s embassy in Tokyo as the government in Seoul began reissuing tourist visas. Public demand for travel links between Tokyo and Seoul is clearly present.

Image: Getty Images

Defence / Global

Collective security

For a military alliance that has rediscovered its purpose in serving as a bulwark against Russian aggression, Nato’s desire to develop a “strategic concept” to confront China might seem like an unnecessary distraction. But Benedetta Berti-Alberti, head of policy planning in the office of the secretary-general at Nato, says that it’s not that simple. “We live in a world where threats are interconnected,” she tells Monocle. “We cannot think about the security of the Euro-Atlantic area in isolation.”

China’s assertive behaviour in Asia affects European defence as well, because it threatens the global order and how countries go about getting what they want. That’s why Nato invited South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to this week’s summit in Madrid. “We’re finding ourselves in a security environment characterised by growing strategic competition,” adds Berti-Alberti. “Countries like China and Russia are working deliberately to push back against a rules-based international order.”

Hear more from Berti-Alberti in a special edition of ‘The Foreign Desk’ this Saturday on Monocle 24.

Image: Luke O'Donovan

Design / UK

Built to last

The month-long London Festival of Architecture is coming to an end today but the legacy of its temporary projects will remain. One example is The Phoenix Road Performing Gardens, which were created by pedestrianising a stretch of road in Somers Town, north London, for one weekend. Architects from Nooma Studio, which won the job in a design competition for emerging practitioners, installed a series of structures to show how spaces can be used to bring people together.

“We are interested in how parts make a whole, so we created a fragmented garden using planters that will be dispersed throughout Somers Town and Camden as an ecological legacy,” Nooma’s director Ramsey Yassa tells The Monocle Minute. Leaving a lasting footprint is a smart way to give an event extra purpose. “There is a power in temporary activities,” says Rosa Rogina, the festival’s director. “We wanted to use our platform as a vehicle to test new ideas – and hopefully inform future policy.”

Hear more about the London Festival of Architecture on yesterday’s edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Literature / Germany

Write move

Frankfurt’s annual book fair is still four months away but authors will hold readings across the city’s skyscrapers in a tune-up event this week. The theme of this year’s weeklong Literaturm festival is societal schisms or “cracks”, whether between rich and poor or what were once East and West Germany. An inevitable focus will be Eastern Europe and Ukraine, which is fitting as Germany’s Peace Prize for literature, announced yesterday, went to a Ukrainian author and poet Serhiy Zhadan (pictured).

The focus is a sign of how much Germany, which has long had a cultural affinity with Russia, is shifting towards developing an understanding of Ukraine as well. “It is very important that Ukraine is present in the German information space,” said Zhadan in a statement thanking German publishers for their solidarity. “We need guns but we need information support too.” Zhadan’s prize will be awarded at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

Image: Ronan McKenzie

Monocle 24 / Monocle On Design

Fashion round-up

We tour Europe to survey men’s fashion, taking in Florence, Milan and Paris. Plus: we discuss a new book showcasing the craft cultures that have shaped fashion in Africa for centuries.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: July/August issue

See if your city made the cut for our annual Quality of Life survey in Monocle's July/August issue, where we crunched the numbers and hit the streets to rank the world's most liveable cities. Elsewhere explore the business of language learning, brush up on the brands to help you stay sharp and see what songs should be on your summer soundtrack. Grab a copy today from The Monocle Shop.


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