Tuesday 24 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 24/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Skin in the game: the leather-jacket-wearing Javier Milei

Image: Alamy


Still at odds

In the end, things didn’t quite go according to plan. For months, Argentina’s Javier Milei, the libertarian political upstart, had been touted as the man about to blow up politics and get rid of the traditional left-right dichotomy that has failed to solve the country’s problems. Except, in Sunday’s general election, the presidential candidate not only failed to win outright in the first round, he also came in second to the continuity candidate, Sergio Massa from the left-wing Peronist movement.

Massa’s almost 37 per cent to Milei’s 30 per cent was a surprise to many, going against the tide of media attention that Milei – a leather jacket-wearing eccentric with a 1970s haircut who has made apologist comments about the former dictatorship and promised to close the Central Bank – has garnered since winning the primaries back in August. Massa currently presides over the ministry of economy in a country with inflation nearing 140 per cent; his first-round success indicates just how divided Argentina really is.

But Milei’s story isn’t over and there is a chance that the far-right candidate will occupy the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace, after the 19 November run-off. The balance of power now swings to Patricia Bullrich, the security-focused centre-right candidate for the Juntos por el Cambio coalition, who finished in third place with about 24 per cent of the vote. In search of new votes, Massa has been keen to present himself as taking Argentina in a new direction; meanwhile, Milei – who exchanged fierce words with Bullrich in the past – has proposed a united front to topple a Peronist ruling class that he labels as corrupt.

It seems unlikely that Bullrich’s voters will switch to Massa given their history of mutual loathing. But Bullrich is an anti-populist, so it’s hard to see many of them voting for Milei either. Whatever happens, Argentina is inching towards yet another chapter in its turbulent history.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor at large. He was based in Argentina between 2009 and 2014. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.



Show of support

Emmanuel Macron touches down in Tel Aviv today for a meeting with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. His visit comes as violence continues to escalate in the Gaza Strip more than two weeks since the Hamas attack of 7 October. The increasing death toll includes 30 French citizens so far. Macron’s trip follows similar visits by Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz. This has been a point of contention in France. “The issue here is timing,” Philippe Marlière, professor of French and European politics at University College London, tells The Monocle Minute. “Macron is visiting after other Western leaders have already made the trip. The public feels that it’s a bit too late. He is also carrying political baggage with him. He is being criticised for adopting a very pro-Israel stance, which has been compared to the traditional US and UK positions, rather than being a more neutral force.” With emotions running high, Macron is walking a tightrope.

Image: Shutterstock


Right to buy

The European Commission has given the green light to online retailer Farfetch’s acquisition of a 47.5 per cent stake – currently owned by Swiss luxury goods holding company Richemont – in its rival Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP). The deal was first unveiled in August 2022 and approved earlier this year in the UK and other regions but was complicated by financial problems at the London-based Farfetch. Despite its growing reach and innovative business model, the company, which has yet to break even, has lost 90 per cent of its estimated value in the past two years and faces a gloomy annual sales outlook.

Nonetheless, Richemont is now poised to transfer its online business to technology run by Farfetch, joining more than 500 Italian boutiques and department stores including Harrods and Bergdorf Goodman – further evidence, if any were needed, of Farfetch’s increasing dominance in the online luxury-retail sector. It’s hard to predict whether the deal will prove lucrative for either party in the long term but the industry will be paying close attention to Richemont’s half-year results, which will be announced early next month.

Image: Getty Images


Grains of truth

Climate change has come to rural Japan. This year’s harvest of traditional koshihikari rice from Niigata prefecture, reputed to be the best rice produced in the country, has been hit hard by the record-breaking summer heat. By the end of September, with more than half of the harvest inspected, only 3 per cent of the rice was ranked as first grade – the worst result on record. This compares to last year, when 74.5 per cent of Niigata’s rice was deemed to be of the highest quality.

The prefecture’s officials are now seeking solutions and plan to conduct an extensive survey of farmers, hoping to identify ways to adjust techniques and cultivate more robust varieties. Niigata is not alone in suffering the effects of climate change: Akita prefecture has also reported a similar catastrophe. Rice farmers will need all the short-term support that the government can offer and, most importantly, a solid plan for the hot summers to come.

Beyond the Headlines

Q&A / Michael Famighetti

Deep focus

Michael Famighetti is editor in chief of Aperture magazine, a leading voice in the world of photography. Its latest issue, guest-edited by New York-based artist Lyle Ashton Harris with Ghanaian photographer and educator Nii Obodai, focuses on Accra as a site of dynamic photography. Here, Famighetti speaks to Monocle about his work.

Tell us about Aperture and your time in it.
Aperture was founded in 1952 by a group of artists and thinkers whose mission was to create a space for photographers to talk to each other. It was set up as a platform for thinking seriously about the medium at a time when it wasn’t necessarily considered a legitimate, creative form of art. I have a long history with the magazine. I have been the editor since 2013 but I was previously its books editor and managing editor too, before leaving for a while to work on other projects. I returned in 2013 to lead the magazine’s redesign and relaunch.

Are the issues always themed?
When we did the redesign and rethought the magazine, we decided to make use of themes because we felt that, as a quarterly, we’re somewhere between a magazine and a book. We felt that it would give us a way to set up a container of ideas or to pose questions about what was happening in photography and the world at large. Sometimes it’s good to have restraint by focusing on one theme. It helps to organise your ideas and thinking.

Tell us about the latest issue.
The theme was the idea of a wonderful artist, Lyle Ashton Harris, who is based in New York. He had lived in Accra for many years and suggested Ghana as a location for us to focus on. We also had the help of Nii Obodai, who is a photographer and a kind of steward of the photography scene in Ghana. Through his work, he has created spaces and platforms for young photographers in Accra and he has also mentored a lot of its young local talent.

For our full interview with Michael Famighetti, tune in to the latest episode of ‘The Stack’, our dedicated show about print media, on Monocle Radio.

Image: Mads Krabbe

Monocle Radio / The Menu

Japanese culinary soft power

We explore the world of Japanese cuisine and its role in boosting the nation’s profile around the globe. Monica Lillis sits down with London-based saké sommelier Erika Haigh and Monocle’s Copenhagen correspondent, Michael Booth, meets Mads Battefeld of Sushi Anaba. Plus: Gregory Scruggs visits Uwajimaya, an authentic Japanese grocery shop in Seattle, and Guy de Launey explores how Japanese tea-making is brewing bilateral relationships in Slovenia.


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