Monday 4 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 4/3/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Wanted man: Olaf Scholz

Image: Shutterstock


Waiting game

Germany cannot afford to wait until its election next year to oust Olaf Scholz. Last week the unpopular chancellor appeared to round on his allies by suggesting that France and the UK had secretly deployed troops in Ukraine to oppose Russia. Both deny this and the UK has accused Scholz of abusing military intelligence for his domestic agenda.

Scholz is completely against offering further military assistance to Ukraine. He has consistently refused to send the country German-made Taurus missiles, citing the risk of being dragged into a direct conflict with Russia. But his stance has gone beyond simply being uncomfortable for Germans – it is now a security risk for all of Europe.

At home, Scholz’s coalition government is historically unpopular among Germans. Recent polls find fewer than 20 per cent are satisfied with it and 46 per cent are “very dissatisfied”. Parliamentarians with the Greens and Free Democratic Party, which govern alongside Scholz’s Social Democratic Party of Germany, are becoming increasingly impatient – but talk has yet to turn into action.

It’s something that needs change but no-confidence votes are complicated. In Germany you can’t remove a sitting chancellor without proposing a successor. Only one has ever succeeded: in 1982 Helmut Kohl unseated Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt. Like today, the squabble centred on missiles (US ones stationed in Germany) and a tanking economy.

These are extraordinary times. German voters would thank his political partners for sending him packing, even if it creates some short-term uncertainty. There’s little doubt that Scholz will lose the 2025 elections. But Ukraine might not be able to wait that long.

Aaron Gasch Burnett is a freelance journalist based in Berlin. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Image: Shutterstock

Society / Argentina

Lesson learnt?

Today teachers’ unions in Argentina are gearing up for nationwide strikes against the government’s proposed cuts in education. The move comes as the country struggles with staggering poverty rates and the world’s highest inflation. In his bid to fix the economy, president Javier Milei has proposed a series of cuts in public funding, including the National Teacher Incentive Fund (FONID), which was created in the 1990s to inject cash into the country’s provinces and help finance teachers’ salaries.

Milei has also refused to negotiate a minimum wage for teachers. The education walkout follows an aviation workers’ strike last week, which forced the cancellation of some 400 flights, as well as a rail workers’ strike. It remains to be seen whether Milei’s rigid stance will result in meaningful change.

Image: Getty Images

Urbanism / Nigeria

Wheels in motion

Lagos’s new light-rail line opened last Thursday to connect travellers shuttling between the suburb of Agbado in the city’s north, the CBD and the coastal area of Oyingbo. The 37km Red Line built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corp comes hot on the heels of the 13km Blue Line, which opened last September to connect affluent Lagos Island with the mainland. Both are part of an effort to curb congestion, which is estimated to cost Africa’s most populous city some €2.3bn a year.

Some people, however, are sceptical of the new train lines. “An efficient road network and bus system capable of carrying thousands of people affordably should take precedence,” says Lagos-based journalist and Monocle contributor Ope Adetayo. “Not [investing in] more expensive and less extensive rail projects.” With its population expected to reach 40 million by 2050, Lagos needs to get moving on its transport fixes – and fast.

Culture / Asia

All the write moves

The Hong Kong International Literary Festival opens today and will run until this Sunday. It is the 23rd edition of the festival, which began in 2001 and has grown into a major cultural event that attracts some 18,000 writers and readers from all over the world. This year’s programme includes a talk by Fuchsia Dunlop, the best-selling British author of Chinese cookbooks, a lunch with Australian novelist Diana Reid and a creative-writing workshop led by Hong Kong writer Xu Xi. Poets, authors and comic-book artists from Uzbekistan, France, Spain and South Korea will be in attendance but the festival’s highlight is its emphasis on local literary culture. Hong Kong food writer Lui Ka Chun will host readers at a traditional cha chaan teng diner to discuss the history of these establishments over pineapple buns and milk tea, while numerous talks will focus on Hong Kong’s literary past and present.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 171

Touch and go

How do America’s first responders train for the worst natural – or manmade – disasters? Monocle pulls on a hazmat suit to find out.

Checking for harmful substances in the ‘Lucky’s bar’ area

Image: Thomas Prior

Mock patients wear T-shirts signalling that they are naked and a local actor playing the role of a victim

Image: Thomas Prior

Technician on a break in the mannequin ward

Image: Thomas Prior

Subscribe to read the full article or log in to your account if you’re already a subscriber.

Image: Nicholas Calcott

Monocle Radio / Monocle On Design

Design Doha and The Eames Archives

We meet Glenn Adamson, artistic director of Design Doha, and visit The Eames Archives in California. Plus: a reflection on this year’s Ralph Saltzman Prize.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00