Thursday. 8/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

OPINION / Christopher Cermak

In for the count

As Georgia’s Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker conceded to Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock on Tuesday night, one line struck me in particular. Walker said that he prayed for poll workers, almost as if he felt guilty about what they had been put through. As well he should: administrators have been under the spotlight in this election cycle like never before.

On the day of Georgia’s run-off, I found myself at an “election summit” hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, filled with local and state officials. The mood was one of cautious optimism. The midterms had gone better than expected, violence had been averted and nearly all of the losing candidates, including those such as Walker who were backed by Donald Trump, conceded their races rather than alleging fraud. But there was some anxiety that the focus on a single race for the presidency could once again raise the stakes in 2024.

Which is where concern for the physical and mental health of poll workers comes in. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the state of North Carolina’s board of elections, tells The Monocle Minute that younger volunteers had stepped in for older ones after the pandemic struck but withdrew again in the face of threats and intimidation. “We have to create an environment that encourages them to come back and continue to give to their community,” she says.

What also comes through from election officials is a wonky passion. Brinson Bell says that she is buoyed in her work by individual success stories: helping a disabled person to vote on his own; encouraging a former convict who can’t read to fill out a voting application for the first time. As we close the chapter on the 2022 midterm elections, perhaps we should all join Herschel Walker in sparing a thought for the poll workers and administrators who made it happen.

Christopher Cermak is Monocle’s Washington correspondent.

Image: Getty Images

ENERGY / LIBYA

Power play

Libya’s national-unity government has declared a “dramatic” improvement in the country’s security situation and is inviting major oil producers to resume exploration, which is potentially good news for an energy-hungry Europe. Libya has been torn apart by conflict and political instability since 2014; despite a fragile ceasefire agreed in October 2020, clashes between armed militia groups remain common. The country’s oil production has recovered considerably in recent months and the National Oil Corporation says that it now wants to double it from its current level of 1.2 million barrels a day. “This statement from the government can be viewed as positive but it will also quite rightly be treated with some scepticism,” Monocle’s North Africa correspondent, Mary Fitzgerald, tells The Briefing. “Libya’s security situation remains volatile.”

Image: Alamy

FASHION / ITALY

Next in line

Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli are stepping down from their roles as co-CEOs of the Prada Group and setting in motion a succession plan. Andrea Guerra, former CEO of eyewear giant Luxottica, will assume the top role and lay the foundations for the couple’s son, Lorenzo Bertelli (pictured), to take over the business. Prada will remain creative co-director of her namesake brand, alongside Belgian designer Raf Simons, as well as creative director of sister label Miu Miu. Meanwhile, the elder Bertelli will become chairman of the group.

While the announcement sent the company’s share price tumbling by almost 3 per cent (Prada is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange), analysts say that the move will pay off in the long term by granting Bertelli Jr more time to prepare. “It would have been too soon for him [to become CEO],” says UBS analyst Susy Tibaldi. Instead, Guerra’s proven track record will likely help the company to continue its upward trajectory.

Image: Alamy

AVIATION / JAPAN

Flying visits

Japanese airline Starflyer has announced that it will launch an ambitious subscription service next year that will offer unlimited flights between Tokyo and Fukuoka, and a rental apartment in the latter for between ¥200,000 (€1,384) and ¥400,000 (€2,768) a month. The package is a response to changing lifestyles: people from Tokyo have been flocking to Fukuoka, a city of 1.6 million, in search of more space, nature and a slower pace of life.

Though Starflyer plans to start the service using Kitakyushu airport, an hour’s drive from central Fukuoka, it hopes to eventually add the city’s main airport to its network. It is also considering creating a corporate account so that companies in Tokyo can give their employees an option to work remotely from Fukuoka and fly into the capital whenever they need to. Aviation has had plenty of challenges of late. A bold move like this might be the shot that it needs.

Image: Alamy

CULTURE / BRAZIL

Back to life

Culture leaders in Brazil have their eyes on president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, who they hope will reinvigorate the sector after a bruising four years under far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro. The latter dissolved the country’s ministry of culture on his first day in office and yesterday appointed military police officer André Porciúncula to the special secretariat for culture. Porciúncula has previously said that cash from the Rouanet Law, a tax incentive that funds arts initiatives, should be used to create projects promoting gun ownership.

The left-wing Lula has promised both to reinstate the culture ministry and to restore the Rouanet Law, which was slashed under Bolsonaro. Among the candidates tipped to lead the department are singer Daniela Mercury (pictured) – fellow musician Gilberto Gil was a culture minister during Lula’s first term – and former culture minister Juca Ferreira. The whole country could benefit from a re-energised cultural sector and Brazil has a wealth of soft-power reserves to dip into.

Image: Getty Images

Monocle 24 / Monocle on Design

Design Miami, Polestar

Hear from the winners of the British Fashion Council’s annual awards, including Gabriela Hearst, creative director at Chloé, and Charles Conn, chair at Patagonia. Then we head to Design Miami with Nada Debs, Maria Cristina Didero and more. Plus, Polestar’s Maximilian Missoni on the Swedish company’s new SUV.

Monocle Films / Switzerland

Zürich: co-operative living

We head to Mehr als Wohnen, a unique mixed-use development housing a happy and healthy community.

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