Tuesday 11 June 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 11/6/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

High risk: Emmanuel Macron calls a general election

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Alexis Self

Macron’s gamble to counter the rise of Europe’s far-right

This pivotal year of elections threw up another surprise on Sunday: not the surge in support for far-right parties in the EU parliamentary elections, which had been predicted for months, but rather Emmanuel Macron’s decision to dissolve parliament. On 30 June and 7 July, France will head to the polls again, this time to elect its National Assembly. The president’s move fits with his once-held reputation as a political disruptor. Indeed, he should be applauded for being one of Europe’s few centrist leaders who relishes a showdown with the far-right. Elsewhere, politicians have chosen either to shirk this fight, as Germany’s Olaf Scholz has done, or to co-opt their opponents’ rhetoric, like the EU Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen. If Macron’s gamble pays off, it will be a firm rebuke to those who have been predicting that a far-right candidate will win the next French election. If it doesn’t, France and its neighbours are in for more volatility.

That aside, the EU results were hardly seismic. Though a right-wing victory had been considered inevitable for some time, it remains to be seen how the new intake will shape bloc-wide policy in a number of key areas, especially immigration, the environment and support for Ukraine. Expect further friction and political conflict.

One potential silver lining is that even the most potent of Europe’s far-right parties are no longer advocating for an exit from the bloc. The populist Alternative für Deutschland surpassed Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party in the European Parliament elections, securing 15.9 per cent of the country’s vote. Now that such parties are well established, they seem more interested in moulding the EU in their own image rather than pulling it apart. Leaders such as Macron clearly find this almost as unappealing. We will know more clearly on 8 July whether or not they stand a chance of preventing it.

Alexis Self is Monocle’s foreign editor. For more analysis, opinion and insight, subscribe to Monocle today

The Briefings

Hanging in the balance: Switzerland will host Ukrainian peace summit

Image: Reuters

Security / Switzerland

World leaders to gather in Switzerland for Ukraine’s latest peace summit

This weekend leaders and representatives from about 90 countries will attend Ukraine’s peace summit in Switzerland. At the event in Bürgenstock, a resort overlooking Lake Lucerne, Ukrainian officials will present their 10-point peace plan, which includes demands for a full withdrawal of Russian troops, accountability for war crimes (including the deportation of children) and guarantees on Ukraine’s energy and nuclear security. Seeking to secure diplomatic support, Ukraine has already shared the plan at four conferences since June 2023. The latest summit is the highest-level such event so far, with the US vice-president, Kamala Harris, and Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, confirmed to attend.

About half of those present will be from South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. However, Moscow has signalled that it has no interest in participating; representatives from Russia and China will be conspicuously absent. Turkey, South Africa and Brazil have also yet to indicate whether or not they’ll be there. Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the event, Switzerland has reported a sharp uptick in online disinformation and personal cyber attacks aimed at the Swiss president, Viola Amherd.

Aviation / USA

United Airlines unveils a new targeted advertising network

In what it proudly calls a first for the industry, United Airlines will begin leveraging the wealth of anonymised data that it has on its customers and using it to funnel targeted adverts their way through its mobile app and in-flight screens. Its new Kinective Media network, unveiled this week, makes perfect business sense: it’s likely to be very appealing to advertisers and lucrative for the airline, which could potentially charge more by offering the promise of higher conversions. In a sense, United is only fine-tuning what it already does, except that now it is seeking to accomplish something similar to what social-media algorithms have long since perfected – matching every ad with the ideal consumer (though it’s possible for passengers to opt out). And considering the very captive audience onboard a long flight, that should be exciting news for advertisers indeed.

Fashion / Japan

Cartier honours its 50th year in Japan with new exhibition

Fifty years ago, Cartier opened its first Japanese shop in Harajuku’s Palais France. To mark this milestone, it has announced a double-headed exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum. Staged in its 1908 Hyokeikan building, the show celebrates Japanese culture and features an exquisite collection of Cartier jewels, watches and objects. It also draws upon contemporary works by Japanese artists such as Hiroshi Sugimoto, who have close associations with the French jewellery house’s Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.

Image: Cartier
Image: Cartier

Artist Sho Shibuya has also created 50 paintings of the sky from every prefecture in Japan for the exhibition. Louis Cartier was an avid collector of Japanese art and the country has been an important part of the house’s story. This showcase details how a 19th-century Japanese lacquered container inspired a Cartier dragonfly jewel, while a diamond brooch from 1907 was informed by traditional katagami textile stencils. The show opens tomorrow and runs until 28 July.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Marion Berrin

Q&A / Ramdane Touhami

Meet the entrepreneur whose magazine is raising the profile of the world’s mountainous regions

Ramdane Touhami is a French-Moroccan creative director, entrepreneur and founder of biannual magazine Useless Fighters. The periodical celebrates the “mountains you don’t know”, examining their cultural and political importance. Monocle spoke with Touhami to find out more.

Where did the name ‘Useless Fighters’ come from?
The name was inspired by Lionel Terray, a French climber who wrote a fantastic book about mountains called Conquistadors of the Useless. He was a genius and I am obsessed with mountains. I travel all over the world to climb and hike them, from Patagonia to the mountains in Africa.

What aspects of mountain life will the magazine cover?
In the West, awareness of the world’s mountains is quite limited. I wanted to highlight lesser-known regions and their features. For instance, you can ski in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Morocco. I’m also interested in how people live in mountainous regions, which is why I decided to cover places such as Vietnam.

What is the format of the magazine?
It’s a big, 340-page magazine with a lot of text but not so many images. The first edition comes out on 18 June, in time for Paris Fashion Week, and focuses on the political issues in various mountainous regions and covers them from a global perspective.

To listen to our full interview with Touhami, tune in to the latest edition of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

The Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building, Belgrade

Guy de Launey looks at what the future holds for the largely dilapidated remains of the former Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building in Serbia’s capital.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00