Tuesday. 4/10/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters

Opinion / Fernando Pacheco

Too close for comfort

Brazil’s presidential election will head to a run-off vote after last Sunday’s first-round results showed that the race between incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is tighter than polling had suggested. According to the final numbers before Brazilians headed to the ballot box, Lula had a chance to reach the 50 per cent threshold to win the election in the first round. While he did come first, with a sizeable 48.43 per cent, Bolsonaro had a surprisingly strong showing (43.20 per cent).

That was a shock to pollsters, who were expecting voters to roundly reject the Bolsonaro years. In the event, it’s clear that many Brazilians still feel very much aligned with the incumbent. He received a boost from electoral segments such as evangelicals and the more agricultural states, whose economies will have benefitted from his controversial relaxation of environmental laws around logging in the Amazon and other forests.

Lula is still likely to win the run-off, albeit by a smaller margin. If he does, he will have to deal with Brazil’s increasingly right-wing Congress. A sign of how much things have changed since he left office came from the Senate, where Bolsonaro’s ideological allies, including former ministers Damares Alves and Marcos Pontes, exceeded expectations and won seats.

Brazil is a polarised country and the divide is concerning going into what will be an ugly second-round campaign. Left-wing and centrist voters might find themselves sobered by Sunday’s results but it’s important not to forget that Lula’s comeback is remarkable. Despite a history of corruption allegations, the two-time former president is the only figure capable of beating Bolsonaro. If Brazil is going to arrest its rising economic inequality and protect its rainforests, he’s an obvious, if imperfect, choice.

Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a senior correspondent for Monocle 24.

Image: Reuters

Food / Japan

Meat in the middle

Japan is gearing up for the bovine bonanza that is the Wagyu Olympics. Held every five years, the five-day event starts later this week in the city of Kirishima in the wagyu hub of Kagoshima prefecture. Some 400,000 visitors are expected to view hundreds of livestock currently being transported to the venue from across Japan. The competition is fierce and categories include best-bred bulls and best meat. The gathering started in 1966 to promote wagyu (the name means “Japanese beef”) and celebrate the homegrown farming techniques that make it unique. There will be stalls where visitors can try the tender, marbled meat and, as with every good event in Japan, there is a mascot: Kagoushimama, a furry beast with a ring through her nose and a chef’s hat, has been milking the limelight. We’re paying particular attention to the young farmers in the high school and college division – they’re the future of this valuable industry.

Image: Annie Lin

Business / USA

Inner strength

Far from The Wolf of Wall Street-style chest-beating one might expect from the competitive bustle of New York, business coach Annie Lin (pictured) extols a humanistic attitude to her work. After welcoming Monocle into her apartment, which is adorned with artefacts from her travels, Lin tells us that she draws on Taoist teachings to help guide her clients toward envisioning their future selves. Unlike the dime-a-dozen positive-thinking merchants, Lin, who migrated from a career in finance, goes for a personalised approach, combining business coaching with life coaching.

At the heart of her philosophy is an acceptance of anxieties. “A lot of my clients call themselves perfectionists but they’re actually scared,” she says. “What if things go wrong? What if others judge me? Accept that fear, I say.” Lin encourages her charges to see their career as shaped around their inner life and embrace their vulnerability (within reason, though – no tearful selfies, please). When done right, business coaching can prove valuable.

To read the full piece and for more on business coaching, pick up a copy of ‘The Entrepreneurs’, which is on sale now.

Image: Taiwan Presidential Office

Media / Taiwan

Remote control

Taiwan has debuted its first English-language television channel in a new bid to create connections with the international community and dent China’s influence. Covering news, lifestyle and entertainment, TaiwanPlus began as an online streaming platform last year and has already won praise from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen (pictured) for forging closer ties with fellow democracies. The launch has an ironic twist, though: Taipei’s move takes a leaf out of its sabre-rattling neighbour’s book. China has become increasingly active in English-language media in order to spread its views to foreign audiences, albeit with limited cut-through. The new channel will want to achieve more success, William Yang, president of the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents Club and East Asia Correspondent at DW News tells The Monocle Minute. “This is the first step for Taiwan to present its perspectives to the world. Whether the initiative can truly achieve that goal depends on whether it knows how to resonate with the international audience, which remains a question.”

For more on Taiwan’s new television channel, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24..

Image: DocLisboa / Łukasz Kowalski

Culture / Portugal

Reel world

Lisbon’s international documentary film festival, DocLisboa, celebrates its 20th iteration this year with a host of events and programmes. Kicking off this week, the showcase will screen more than 200 documentaries, with highlights including a retrospective of Brazilian director Carlos Reichenbach’s work. With Lisbon attracting a growing number of creatives from around the world, the festival’s enduring legacy and popularity are testament to Portuguese society’s engagement with the film sector and proof that the city’s arts scene has international ambitions.

As DocLisboa’s director, Miguel Ribeiro, puts it, according to newspaper Público, the event “has always opened windows to the rest of the world”. This year films such as Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel’s Terminal Norte and The Pawnshop (pictured) by Poland’s Łukasz Kowalski’s will take centre stage. This is a bold but smart choice – when it comes to making cities more appealing to people around the globe, investing in the arts is never a bad move.

Monocle 24 / The Menu

Lessons from Italy’s best home cooks

Vicky Bennison on what Italian grandmothers taught her about cooking. Plus: how Frerejean Frères is leading a change in the champagne market.

Monocle Films / Husavik

Ísbíltúr: Iceland’s ice-cream road trips

We hit the road with journalist Egill Bjarnason, finding the best spots to grab a cone on a journey into the Icelandic custom of ísbíltúr. It’s one of many Nordic lifestyle concepts that can teach us a thing or two about quality of life. Discover more stories and ideas from the region with The Monocle Book of the Nordics, available now from The Monocle Shop.

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