Monday 15 January 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 15/1/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Not his first rodeo: Ron DeSantis speaks to voters at Jethto’s BBQ in Iowa

Image: Alamy

Politics / Charlotte McDonald Gibson

Ready, set, vote!

Republicans in the Midwestern state of Iowa will today cast the first vote in the race to decide the party’s candidate for the US presidential election on 5 November. But don’t expect the outcome of the caucus (a party-run meeting) to keep you on the edge of your seat: former president Donald Trump is likely to win by a wide margin.

So why all the fuss? Well, there are other candidates vying to replace Trump on the ballot and there is sport in watching their efforts to make inroads. Nikki Haley, a former US ambassador to the UN, has seen a surge in support, while Florida governor Ron DeSantis is hoping to revive his standing as a viable challenger to Trump. Iowa could make or break their campaigns. A poor showing and they could drop out but a strong second place could boost their chances of coming within striking distance of Trump at the next vote – the primary (state-run ballot) in New Hampshire on 23 January is forecast to be more closely contested.

Iowa is rarely an accurate bellwether for who will be the next Leader of the Free World. Since 1972 only three candidates who won these initial votes in the state went on to take the White House. Many other factors are likely to decide the eventual winner in November. Foremost among these is the fact that Trump is facing at least four criminal charges. Next month the Supreme Court will consider whether he can be barred from standing on accusations that he engaged in insurrection.

The first Democrat vote is the South Carolina primary next month. Joe Biden is unlikely to have any serious challengers for the nomination but questions about his age remain. So while Iowa can be enjoyed as a political spectacle, don’t bank on it being a vision of the future of American power.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson is a Monocle contributor based in Washington. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Affairs / Davos

Top table

The world’s major international organisations and governments are descending upon the Swiss town of Davos for the 54th Annual Meeting of The World Economic Forum (WEF), which begins today. Under the theme “Rebuilding Trust”, this year’s gathering is focused on four key pillars: achieving security and co-operation in a fractured world, creating growth and jobs for a new era, the rise of artificial intelligence as a driving force for the economy and society, and a long-term strategy for climate, nature and energy.

The summit plays host to delegates from more than 100 countries, with a mix of industry experts, NGOs, civil society leaders, business owners and media all taking part. Monocle is no exception: our team is already on the ground and will be broadcasting live from our radio studio at Promenade 107 throughout the week.

Join us today and tomorrow for ‘The Monocle Daily’ at 19.00 central European time or on Wednesday and Thursday at 13:00 central European time for ‘The Briefing’.

Politics / Taiwan

Lai wins the presidency

On Saturday evening, the streets surrounding the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters in central Taipei rustled in a sea of green and pink as voters celebrated William Lai’s victory in Taiwan’s presidential election. Foreign journalists from around the world – including Monocle – descended on the island in notably larger numbers than during the 2020 vote, which saw the DPP win a landslide against the more pro-China opposition Kuomintang (KMT). Recent attention on Taiwan as a flashpoint of US-China tensions caused global interest in this year’s campaign.

Although the DPP won a third consecutive term there were enough split-ticket voters that it lost its majority in the legislature, largely due to the success of a third party, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP). Eight years of surging house prices and the rising cost of living meant the TPP candidate, Ko Wen-je, snagged more than a quarter of the votes. Lai (pictured) will likely stick to the pro-sovereignty foreign policy of his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen. But with the DPP facing the prospect of an opposition-controlled legislature and an ambivalent electorate, the new president will have to hit the ground running after his inauguration in May.

For more on Taiwan’s election results tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio at 07.00 London time.

Image: IMM Cologne

Design / Köln

Best seat in the house

The Internationale Möbelmesse (IMM) kicked off in Köln yesterday with the theme “Connecting Communities”. Furniture brands at the event, which takes place at the city’s Koelnmesse exhibition centre, are aiming to show how cosy interiors can bring people closer together. The result? Displays from 718 exhibitors featuring newly released sofas, chairs and tables.

The presence of brands including Walter Knoll and bed and mattress-maker Schramm is a reminder that while the event attracts a global crowd of interior designers, architects and developers, and counts a host of international companies on its exhibitor list, it is still a celebration of Germanic furniture-making. Those wishing to see the best new work coming from Bavaria, the Black Forest and beyond would do well to visit the Koelnmesse before IMM closes its doors on Wednesday.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / ‘The Escapist’, issue 2

Port of call

Monocle travels to the port city of Nagasaki, historically Japan’s window to the world, to sample its dizzyingly rich mix of culinary, craft and cultural traditions.

Heading for the hills

Image: Stefan Dotter

Third-generation kite- maker Akihiro Ogawa and Sofukuji Zen temple

Image: Stefan Dotter
Image: Stefan Dotter

To read the article, buy a copy of ‘The Escapist’, which is available now. Alternatively, subscribe so that you’ll never miss an issue.

Monocle Radio / The Menu

‘The Cheese Life’, Austria’s soybean revival and Sentia

We sit down with Mathew Carver and Patrick McGuigan, authors of ‘The Cheese Life’, to discuss the obsession with the ingredient and try some delicious British cheeses. Plus: Monocle Radio’s Mariella Bevan speaks to scientist David Nutt, co-founder of Sentia spirits, an alcohol-free alternative designed to capture the relaxation that comes with drinking without the alcohol, and Alexei Korolyov looks back at the surprising history of soybeans in Austria.


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