Wednesday 8 March 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 8/3/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters

OPINION / Hannah Lucinda Smith

Leading the charge

Turkey’s main opposition – a coalition spanning secularists, nationalists and Islamists – has long seemed divided and lacklustre. But a three-day crisis worthy of a Turkish soap opera has reversed its fortunes. Kemal Kilicdaroglu (pictured), confirmed on Monday night as the candidate who will stand against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the national elections on 14 May, is an unlikely hero. But half of Turkey is now banking on him to end the strongman’s 20-year tenure – and he stands a significant chance of doing just that.

Kilicdaroglu is the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the biggest member of the “Table of Six” coalition, and has long been the assumed presidential candidate. However, he is a technocratic, uninspiring figure who has lost every election since he took over the CHP in 2010. Meral Aksener, leader of the nationalist Iyi Party, the second largest in the coalition, was unconvinced. At the end of last week she pulled Iyi out of the Table of Six, hoping to dictate the agenda by calling on either Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s mayor, or Mansur Yavas, his counterpart in Ankara, to stand for the presidency. But her move seemed to backfire. Though both are charismatic, popular figures, the mayors affirmed their support for Kilicdaroglu, with Aksener becoming marginalised and the future of the coalition hanging in the balance.

That wasn’t the end of the story. On Monday, after a weekend of intense negotiation, Aksener was back in the fold. Following hours of meetings, the six leaders emerged with a signed agreement announcing Kilicdaroglu as their presidential candidate and setting the path for Imamoglu and Yavas to be joint vice-presidential candidates. All of this drama has invigorated Turkey’s opposition voters and Kilicdaroglu is stronger for emerging unscathed. The inclusion of Imamoglu, in particular, gives the coalition a much-needed sprinkle of stardust and with parties from across the spectrum included on the slate, it could appeal to a wide voter base. The opposition now appears to have its best shot in years at defeating Erdogan. But with two months of campaigning to go, there is plenty of time for more plot twists.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / USA & Taiwan

Swap meet

In August, California Republican Kevin McCarthy said that he wanted to visit Taiwan if he was successful in his bid to become the speaker of the US House of Representatives. Days later, the then-speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, made the trip, which swiftly resulted in Taiwan being almost completely blockaded by China. After assuming the role of speaker in January, McCarthy was keen to fulfil his promise to visit Taipei. However, it has now been announced that Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen (pictured), has convinced him to meet her in California instead to avoid a potential aggressive Chinese military response. Had McCarthy stuck to his plans, it would have reinforced the Republicans’ tough position on China. As it stands, the decision to move the meeting is stoking speculation that, despite preparations being made since January, it was just too soon for the speaker to make such a controversial trip. More than simply a venue change, it’s an acknowledgement of China’s aggressiveness when it comes to Taiwan – and that tensions between Washington and Beijing are far from receding.

Image: Getty Images

Defence / Israel

Falling skies

The Israeli Air Force’s 69 Squadron has flown in all of the country’s wars; it was this squadron’s F-15s, for example, that demolished a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007’s Operation Outside the Box. So, it’s highly significant that nearly all of its reservist pilots refused to report for training this week in protest against the efforts of Israel’s government to disempower its independent judiciary.

“This kind of thing is very rare, especially with the Israeli Air Force,” says Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House. “These are the elite of the elite, the chosen ones.” Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has condemned the reservists’ refusal to report for duty, while government officials have dismissed them as “anarchists”. “It’s a real crisis for him,” Mekelberg tells The Monocle Minute. “There is clearly a feeling among these pilots that if they don’t express themselves, the system is in real jeopardy.”

Image: Benjamin McMahon

Architecture / UK

Local hero

British architect David Chipperfield (pictured) is the recipient of this year’s Pritzker Prize. The most prestigious award in architecture celebrates a living designer’s entire body of work – and Chipperfield’s is certainly impressive. Significant projects include the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames from 1997, whose steep roof references the area’s existing architectural vernacular; Mexico City’s Museo Jumex from 2013, which champions local craftsmanship with its travertine-clad walls; and a renovation of the Morland Mixité Capitale building (renamed “La Felicité” on the opening day) completed in Paris last year, which includes new affordable and luxury housing, retail and restaurant venues, and a rooftop garden.

Each of these projects, like the rest of Chipperfield’s portfolio, responds sensitively to place, while also serving community needs. It’s an ethos that’s worth celebrating and, given that the Pritzker sets the benchmark for architecture everywhere, we hope it’s one that we’ll see adopted more broadly.

Image: Getty Images

F&B / Switzerland

Summit to draw on

Swiss chocolate-maker Toblerone has international brand recognition and is a favourite among tourists and airport shoppers. Alongside its signature triangular shape, the packaging features an illustration of the Matterhorn, a nod to its provenance. But that iconic image will soon be a thing of a past.

Toblerone’s parent company, Mondelez International, recently announced that it will be moving production of its smaller bars to Slovakia by the end of 2023, meaning that these won’t be able to claim a Swiss connection or use an image of the Swiss Alps. Since 2017, the country’s legislation has set strict rules about the use of Swiss wording and national symbols. Mondelez’s new bars will fall foul of the law and therefore packaging will need to change; a modernised and streamlined mountain logo is planned. Even if the new image doesn’t bear an exact resemblance to the Matterhorn, Mondelez is clearly still hoping to tap Brand Switzerland.

Image: Aequō

Monocle 24 / Monocle on Design

Aequo gallery

Tarini Jindal Handa, founder of India’s first collectable design gallery, shares how she is bringing traditional craft to contemporary audiences.

Film / Global

Designing the news

How do you unpack stories in the most engaging way while building a credible and comprehensive brand? Monocle Films showcases best design for paper and screen too.


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