Tuesday 17 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 17/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

An optimistic Donald Tusk

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Mateusz Mazzini

No clear winner

A liberal opposition coalition is on track to assume power in Poland but Sunday’s elections are still far from decided. According to preliminary results, the ruling, populist-nationalist Law and Justice party (known as PiS) is set to claim a third consecutive victory – albeit a Pyrrhic one with several seats short of a majority and no real prospects of a right-wing coalition.

Smiles and tears of joy were omnipresent among politicians from the three leading opposition parties. The Civic Coalition, headed by former European Council president Donald Tusk, together with the New Left party and the Third Way, an eccentric marriage of liberal newcomers and agrarians, are projected to claim 249 seats – enough to govern the country. Visibly moved, Tusk said that he was “the happiest man on Earth” and announced “the end of dark times and the return of democracy”.

But even with the numbers adding up, it will not be easy for Tusk to clean up after eight years of populism. Under his leadership, he says, Poland will try to restore good relations with the EU and that starts by reversing PiS’s reforms of the judiciary. Tusk will require the co-operation of Andrzej Duda, the country’s PiS-backed president, who has a veto power over proposals in Sejm, Poland’s lower house. Even the process of forming a new government could take until Christmas, as PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński already promises to obstruct it. Should Tusk return as prime minister, Poland is likely to soften its anti-abortion laws, return to a close co-operation with Ukraine and aspire for leadership in the eastern flanks of both the EU and Nato. None of this will come without a fight.

Mateusz Mazzini is a journalist based in Poland. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Affairs / Global

Weigh to go

US president Joe Biden is due to visit Israel on Wednesday after receiving an invitation from prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Confirmation of the trip comes after the Biden administration cautioned against an Israeli occupation of Gaza, the first public effort by the US to restrain its ally since the Hamas assault. Meanwhile, Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has reportedly extended an invitation to Biden to participate in an international conference addressing the war in Gaza. Specific details about the US president's itinerary are being kept under wraps by the White House but just the sight of Air Force One touching down on Israeli tarmac at this time sends a strong message to the region. “Biden’s visit would clearly demonstrate US support for Israel in an effort to deter Iran from escalating the current crisis,” Julie Norman, co-director of the Centre on US Politics at University College London, tells The Monocle Minute. “It would follow five days of country visits by US secretary of state Antony Blinken with Arab partners, plus increased US military presence in the region, largely co-ordinated to prevent Iran from activating Hezbollah and opening up another front on Israel’s northern border.”

For the latest updates on the war in Gaza, tune in to Monocle Radio’s daily shows. ‘The Globalist’ airs at 07.00 London time, ‘The Briefing’ at midday and ‘The Daily’ at 18.00.

Image: Getty Images

Technology / Japan

Bright future

Some 600 firms from Japan and beyond are showcasing the latest in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and more at the annual Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (Ceatec), which opens today at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. The exhibits at the trade fair, which runs until Friday, include Sony’s super-slim smart glasses that claim to aid communication for the hard of hearing and Kyocera’s autonomous vending machine on wheels. There are solutions for everything from parking and wireless charging to the green transition.

The fair’s speaker line-up includes Hitachi’s CEO, Keiji Kojima, and generative AI is a focus, with lifelike holographic figures interacting with passers-by. The theme of this year’s event, which is free to attend, is “Next Generation”. Accordingly, several of Japan’s big semiconductor-makers are running a recruitment drive, hoping to hire tens of thousands of graduates over the next decade. Go for a peek at the future.

Fashion / Italy

Passing it on

Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta has launched its own school in Veneto, located between its atelier in Montebello Vicentino and a new manufacturing site in Povolaro Dueville. The Accademia Labor et Ingenium will train 50 students a year and is further proof of the brand’s deep commitment to craft. The school will also serve as a permanent workshop for Bottega Veneta employees, new hires and external students.

Image: Matteo Canestraro
Image: Matteo Canestraro

“Unlike other brands linked to a single original couturier, Bottega Veneta was born out of the passion of a collective of artisans,” Leo Rongone, the firm’s CEO, tells The Monocle Minute. “Teamwork and a shared commitment to excellence is part of our DNA. Craft and creativity inspired Bottega Veneta from the start and continue to inspire us today.” With the Accademia Labor et Ingenium, Bottega Veneta follows in the footsteps of fellow Italian powerhouses Prada, Fendi and Tod’s, which are all fostering talent at their own schools and academies.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Mehdi Sefrioui

Culture / Morocco

History in the Makan

Hicham Bouzid is co-founder of Think Tanger, a non-profit cultural agency in Tangier that promotes culture, creativity and collaboration. Here he tells Monocle about his agency’s work and Makan, his new Moroccan-based culture journal.

What is the Think Tanger agency?
Think Tanger is a cultural platform. Our work is diverse but we focus on how social life revolves around the topic of urbanism, art and architecture. We have three spaces in Tangier: a printing studio, an art residency and our new cultural hub, Kiosk. Through the agency we publish our cultural magazine, Makan, and we run several programmes, discussions and workshops.

Tell us more about the magazine and the topics that it covers.
The magazine’s name is Arabic, it means “space”. The intention behind Makan is to explore different spaces. They could be physical or fictional spaces, or they can be social, urban, political and emotional spaces. The idea behind the magazine is to dig into a lot of different topics. It’s connected to Think Tanger as an extension of our reflection on cities and how we evolve in urban spaces. We want to emphasise the connections happening in our lives as we move into different cities. The first issue, under the theme of “informal utopias”, touched upon informal urbanism. This second one has a broader topic: “manufacturing narratives”. It aims to open up a conversation about how we can reinvent narrative, especially from this region.

Where are you hoping to reach with ‘Makan’?
This is the first issue where the magazine is being distributed on an international scale by Motto Books. The intention is to spread the narrative and present our reflections in Europe and North America too.

For our full interview with Hicham Bouzid, tune in to the latest episode of‘The Stack’, Monocle Radio’s show dedicated to all things print.

Image: Getty Images

Monocle Radio / The Foreign Desk

The Foreign Desk Live: Israel-Hamas war

As fighting rages between Israel and Hamas militants, we ask what the war might mean for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and stability in the region. How did we get here and what happens next? Andrew Mueller speaks to Allison Kaplan Sommer, Yossi Mekelberg, Ghaith al-Omari and Ami Ayalon.


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