Monday. 2/1/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Carolina Abbott Galvão

Reuniting Brazil

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (pictured, centre) took office yesterday in a ceremony that had many Brazilians breathing a sigh of relief. With performances by sambista Martinho da Vila and pop star Pabllo Vittar – and the presidents of Argentina and Colombia and the King of Spain in the audience – the inauguration officially put an end to Jair Bolsonaro’s four-year term.

Progressive Brazilians like me are happy to see him go. During Bolsonaro’s time in office, deforestation and illegal logging rates increased, inequality widened and poverty rates soared. His administration’s poor handling of the pandemic also killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians. Lula will no doubt inherit many of these issues. And while Brazilians are right to be hopeful, the months ahead will not be easy.

Lula, who was first elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, is remembered for lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty through radical social programmes. Jailed for corruption in 2018 under the right-wing Temer administration, he was able to make a political comeback after the Supreme Court quashed his convictions in 2021.

But the left-winger will govern a country that’s deeply divided and remarkably different from the one that he once led. About 58 million Brazilians voted for Bolsonaro in the second round and while they didn’t get their way, his supporters are unlikely to peel off their bumper stickers any time soon. For the most part, it appears that Bolsonaro’s brand of conservatism is here to stay.

Meanwhile, in congress, Lula will have to strike deals and liaise with the Centrão, a centrist coalition of largely self-serving politicians who have mostly sided with Bolsonaro in recent years, to get legislation through. He will need nimble negotiation skills and patience to govern. But I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how he does it.

Carolina Abbott Galvão is a writer at Monocle.

Image: Shutterstock

GEOPOLITICS / Croatia

Barriers to entry

By the time you read this, the Eurozone will be officially 20 countries strong, following Croatia’s adoption of the single European currency on 1 January. On the same date, Croatia became the 27th member of the visa-free Schengen area. There is some apprehension about the difficulties of converting from the kuna, especially amid double-digit inflation, but this is a considerable accomplishment by Croatia, a country that is less than half the size of London by population and was at war less than three decades ago, and which only applied to join the EU in 2003. Croatia’s adoption of the euro and entry into Schengen will prompt an amount of nudging and coughing from elsewhere in the Western Balkans: North Macedonia, Serbia, Albania and Montenegro are all EU candidates of long standing and were joined in the wider region in 2022 by Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova and Ukraine. With Russia continuing to provoke and agitate in the area, a crucial conundrum of 2023 will be whether accession standards should be relaxed to allow more of Europe to enter.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Japan

Insecurity council

Yesterday, Japan assumed a two-year non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for a record 12th time. In a speech last September to the UN General Assembly, the country’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida (pictured), laid out Tokyo’s aims during its council membership. Prime among these was to pressure Russia into ceasing hostilities against Ukraine. Japan’s leaders believe that Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour threatens the East Asian power’s own national security as it might have emboldened both North Korea and China to use aggression.

Tokyo also believes that to achieve this, the Security Council must be reformed. It argues that the 15-nation body, whose five permanent members (all key powers in the aftermath of the Second World War) each possess a veto, is not fit for purpose, as evidenced in its inability to even condemn Moscow for the war in Ukraine despite almost three quarters of the wider General Assembly voting to reprimand it. As the third biggest contributor to the UN’s budget, Japan has clout. Let’s hope that it uses it to good effect.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / Australia

Voice of the people

In 2017 a convention of Australian Indigenous leaders published the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Among its recommendations was the enshrinement in Australia’s constitution of a First Nations Voice: a representative body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Last week, Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese (pictured, centre), committed himself to this idea by confirming that Australia will hold a referendum on establishing what has become known as an Indigenous Voice to Parliament before the end of 2023.

Albanese is in favour. “This is an opportunity for all of us to be a part of enriching our nation,” he said. Polls suggest that a narrow majority of his fellow citizens agree with him. What remains unclear, however, is precisely what form it will take, what powers it will wield or what practical good it might do. But, at the very least, a yes vote would be a symbolic moment in Australia’s awkward, anguished conversation about its treatment of Indigenous peoples.

Cinema / Germany

Lights, camera, regeneration

In the 20th century’s first decade, Europe dominated the cinema industry, with studios popping up in cities from Berlin and Paris to Copenhagen. But after two world wars shifted film’s epicentre to Hollywood, many European production sites fell into disrepair. Opened in 1912, the Berlin Union Film Ateliers (Bufa) was a cinematic pioneer: silent classic The Golem was shot here, as was Bob Fosse’s Cabaret.

However, by the 2010s, the 2.4-hectare area on the edge of Tempelhof’s old airfield had become a desolate hodgepodge of cracked concrete. “The campus was unloved,” says Clive Nichol, CEO of Fabrix, a London-based property firm focusing on social change. The Fabrix team has been slowly rejuvenating the area, reusing materials for architectural updates and greening the outdoor space. The resulting site, called Atelier Gardens (pictured), launched last year. Bufa might be the “cradle of German cinema”, as Nichol puts it, but he’s aware of how times are changing: the film studios therefore now support the production of Youtube videos.

Monocle 24 / The Entrepreneurs

P Johnson and Body of Work

Renowned Australian tailor and clothier Patrick Johnson talks about the perfect pace at which to grow a great international business. Then we’re off to Toronto to meet the founders of athletic-wear brand and studio Body of Work. Plus: for branding corner, Bob Sheard discusses the reinvention of French sports equipment brand Salomon.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: December/January issue, 2022

Monocle’s annual Soft Power Survey ranks the major players in the gentler aspects of the diplomacy game. How does your country fare? Elsewhere, we preview a potentially pivotal year for Taiwan, shine the light on Iraq’s unlikely culture push and open the door to the best festive finds from Hudson to Genoa. Order your copy today.

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