Friday 8 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 8/3/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Right moves? André Ventura speaks with journalists in Lisbon

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Carlota Rebelo

Leaders of the pack?

This year is the 50th anniversary of the end of the Estado Novo dictatorship in Portugal. But 2024 might also be the year that the far-right returns to power. This Sunday, Portuguese citizens will head to the polls for the most decisive vote in the nation’s recent history. The snap election was triggered by the November resignation of former prime minister António Costa who, after winning a third consecutive term in January 2022, announced that he was stepping down, following a corruption investigation into his government.

With the far-right gaining traction in countries such as Italy, France, the Netherlands and Germany, Portugal is one of Europe’s last left-wing holdouts. When the Socialist Party (PS) took over in 2015, it inherited a nation that had been deeply affected by the global financial crisis and the Troika austerity plan. Since then, PS has turned its coffers around, navigated the coronavirus pandemic and brought much-needed investment to the Iberian country. However, growing frustration over its high cost of living and housing crisis, and a series of political scandals have only bolstered the confidence of far-right party Chega, whose name translates to “enough”.

According to the latest polls, the centre-right Democratic Alliance – comprising the Social Democratic Party, CDS: People’s Party and People’s Monarchist Party – is leading with more than 29.3 per cent of the projected vote. The current governing party, PS, comes second with 28 per cent, while Chega, comes third with 17 per cent – more than enough to give the far-right a kingmaker role in a hung parliament. If this happens after Sunday’s vote, Portugal might have a reminder of fascism back in power before it celebrates the anniversary of its revolution. At a recent campaign rally, Chega’s leader, André Ventura, said that his mission was to “save Portugal from democracy”, before quickly correcting the phrase to “saving Portugal from socialism”. Freudian slip or not, it’s clear that the country’s far-right movement is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing – but rather a whole pack that’s ready to close in on its prey.

Carlota Rebelo is Monocle’s senior foreign correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Pushing the boat out: ‘HNLMS Groningen’ gets ready for replacement

Image: Alamy

Defence / The Netherlands

Future-proof power

The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN) announced yesterday that it will launch six versatile amphibious transport ships by 2032, costing between €1bn and €2.5bn. The craft will replace two large landing ships (LPDs) and four ocean-going patrol vessels (OPVs), consolidating their functions into a single class better suited to modern operations.

The RNN currently uses LPDs for littoral troop deployment, while OPVs are used more by coast guards, disaster-response teams and law enforcement. As international criminal gangs become more sophisticated, and natural disasters more severe, government responses are becoming more militarised. These new craft also reflect an understanding that any future conflicts involving the Netherlands will not be won with superior tonnage or firepower but by using rapid-response units that can be deployed from afar.


Urbanism / Canada

Only connect

A series of new bridges have been installed around Toronto’s waterfront to connect the city with the Toronto Port Lands. Their construction is part of an ongoing CA$1.25bn (€850m) project to restore the Don river to its original path and regenerate the city’s artificial Villiers Island into its past incarnation as wetlands. The island will eventually include 29 hectares of public parkland and 13 hectares of habitat for wildlife, as well as new roads and housing.

The prefabricated bridges, designed by New York-based studio Grimshaw Architects, take inspiration from glacial landscapes and cities such as Sydney and Chicago, which are known for their bridges. The project will mitigate flood risk in the area, create a healthy ecological system and, hopefully, boost Toronto’s economy. Despite past urban-planning mistakes, this latest project proves that everything is eventually water under the bridge.

Hospitality / Singapore

Turning on the waterworks

Intercontinental Singapore’s hotel has unveiled a new package that offers guests a free one-night stay if their trip is interrupted by rain. The “Rain Resist Bliss” package, described by the hotel as a form of “guaranteed sunshine”, is only available for guests who have booked one of the hotel’s suites. It must also rain for a total of 120 minutes over a four-hour period during the day and the weather must have disrupted at least one of the guests’ planned activities. According to general manager Andreas Kraemer, the deal is part of an effort to attract more high-end clientele to the hotel – and position it as a top luxury competitor within the city. With Singapore visitor arrivals expected to reach 16 million in 2024, here’s hoping that guests will be able to make the most of what the city-state has to offer – rain or shine.

For more on Singapore’s tourism push and the Intercontinental’s new offering, tune in to Thursday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Aaryan Sinha

Photo of the week / ‘In a Sandstone Mine’

Into the deep

The photograph, entitled “In a Sandstone Mine”, is part of a series called This Isn’t Divide and Conquer by Indian photographer Aaryan Sinha, which aims to explore the effect of British colonialism at India’s border with Pakistan. This week, Sinha’s work has been shortlisted for the Palm Photo Prize, a landmark event in the photography industry that aims to showcase new talent. Winners will be offered artist grants and the opportunity to exhibit their work at the Melkweg Expo in Amsterdam in May.

Monocle Radio / The Entrepreneurs

Gabar and 27 87

We explore the world of perfume with two female entrepreneurs in the fragrance industry. Phway Su Aye discusses the philosophy behind Gabar, a fragrance brand that aims to capture the beauty and complexity of Myanmar culture with Southeast Asian botanicals. We also meet Romy Kowalewski, founder of Barcelona-based 27 87, a perfume brand focused on modern perfumery.


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