Friday 22 December 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 22/12/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Giorgia Meloni (on right) talks to Matteo Salvini ahead of a confidence vote in Rome

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Ed Stocker

New direction

Europe is lurching to the right – and it’s a trend showing little sign of slowing down in 2024. With a busy forthcoming election year, including presidential and parliamentary votes from Slovakia and Iceland to Austria, Portugal and Lithuania, several contests could see gains for the right and the far-right. And the latter is expected to fare particularly well in Austria, where it is likely to enter government.

But it’s the European Parliament elections in June 2024 that could prove to be an indication of where the continent is heading. Both the centre-right and hard-right are set to make advances. Much of the build-up seems to be taking place in Italy, where an uneasy coalition between prime minister Giorgia Meloni, from Fratelli d’Italia, and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, from the Lega Nord party, is spilling over into Brussels. The pair are from different European Parliament factions: Meloni heads the centre-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) bloc, while Salvini is part of the sovereigntist Identity and Democracy Party.

Salvini feels as though he has lost ground on the home front, which is why he has been concentrating his hopes on Europe – and he is making as much noise as possible. At the start of December he organised a rally of far-right parties in Florence and lambasted the EU for being full of bureaucrats and bankers, while also looking to become part of its establishment.

All this is proving a potential headache for the EU, whose senior voices would prefer for the organisation to remain on a centrist path. It might also explain why the European Parliament president, Roberta Metsola, was in Italy this month, speaking about Meloni in glowing terms. Rumour has it that the centre-right European People’s Party – to which Metsola belongs – and Meloni’s ECR might be looking to form a pact. Anything, it seems, to keep those sovereigntists at bay.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor at large. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Striking the right chord: the Lapland Chamber Orchestra

Image: Carl Bergman

Culture / Finland

Adagio for Finns

With its 19 permanent members, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra is the northernmost professional orchestra in the EU. Its recordings have been nominated for the coveted Gramophone Classical Music Award twice and won the prestigious Echo Klassik award. And though it calls Rovaniemi home, the group tours all around the vast wilderness of Finnish Lapland – often racking up more than 6,000km by tour bus every year.

With temperatures here often reaching minus 25C, members practise in demanding conditions. “We regularly perform in small venues such as schools and churches in very remote communities,” Inka Puhakka, the orchestra’s general manager tells Monocle during a recent visit. That said, performing consists of much more than overcoming their setting’s trials and tribulations. For the chamber orchestra, their work is a source of boundless inspiration and key to the sense of community that defines them.

For more on Finland’s Lapland Chamber Orchestra and other winter-themed stories on culture and the arts, pick up a copy of ‘Alpino’, which is on sale now.

Transport / USA

Making tracks

Trudging through the snow as a young boy on his way to school in rural Oregon, Emmitt Tucker would dream of a winter vehicle. After years of experimentation, Tucker’s vision became reality in 1938. He called his invention “snowcat” for its feline agility on snow; he had designed a track vehicle that would revolutionise snow travel forever. The company that bears Tucker’s name today builds about 100 new vehicles a year in Medford, Oregon, not far from his childhood log cabin.

The Tucker Sno-Cat’s pedigree has made it the vehicle of choice for those seeking a reliable way to reach their mountain retreat. The Sno-Cat also does steady business with energy suppliers, telecom companies and oil giants. The Pentagon is another fan, eager to swap out the Swedish-developed Hägglunds Bandvagn 206 for an American-made alternative. But there’s no learning curve to speak of when it comes to mastering a Sno-Cat. As veteran sales manager John Meilicke tells Monocle, “Anyone who knows how to drive a car can operate one.”

Illustration: Karin Kellner

Advent gift guide / Global

Shining bright

Looking for the perfect present this holiday season? Then let us inspire you with our Advent gift guide. Every day until Christmas, we are showcasing one item featured in our Alpino newspaper, which is available to buy in kiosks and from our online shop.

Serpenti necklace by Bulgari
The Serpenti motif was first introduced by Italian jewellery brand Bulgari in 1948. More than 75 years later, its sleek design remains an example of elegance and whimsy.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Jim Goldberg

Photo of the week / Five photobooks

Everything under the sun

This picture is taken from the book Coming and Going by American artist and photographer Jim Goldberg. In the work, which was published this year by Mack Books, Goldberg photographs different aspects of daily life, exploring themes such as grief, heartbreak and love. It is part of Monocle’s top five photobooks of the year, which are listed below.

We Stay by Lesha Berezovskiy

A Perfect Sentence by Oliver Frank

Ijó by Gabriel Moses

Sorry I Gave Birth I Disappeared But Now I’m Back by Andi Galdi Vinko

Coming and Going by Jim Goldberg

Image: Getty Images

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Festive special

The Urbanist team jumps feet first down the chimney and into the holiday season with a look at how our cities change at this time of year.


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