Monday 1 July 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 1/7/2024

The Monocle Minute

The latest on Macron’s big gamble

For breaking news and analysis on the results of the first round of France’s parliamentary elections, tune in to The Globalist from 08:00 Paris time on Monocle Radio.

French election results: Far-right in lead

Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party (RN) lead after the first round of French parliamentary elections yesterday, gaining around 34 per cent of the national vote, according to exit polls. The snap ballot was called by President Emmanuel Macron after RN scored an emphatic victory in European parliamentary elections in early June.

Macron’s move was seen as a huge gamble and one that was widely criticised by those on the centre and centre-left, many of whom saw it as a vainglorious decision that would unnecessarily sow division in French society. The past two weeks have seen fraught campaigning and nervous appeals from those seeking to mobilise the anti-far-right vote. Early numbers indicate a high turnout of around 70 per cent, suggesting some of this messaging may have cut through. But ultimately, Macron’s gamble looks to have backfired, and Le Pen and RN’s prime ministerial candidate, Jordan Bardella, head into the second round of voting this Sunday sensing victory.

For more on the French election results, plus detailed analysis, listen to Monocle Radio throughout the day.

The Opinion

Line in the sand: Members of security forces patrol Kankara, Nigeria

Image: Getty Images

Economics / Ope Adetayo

Nigeria’s government must act to guarantee farmers’ safety as food inflation spirals

I’m a middle-class Nigerian with a decent job and pay, so eating three meals a day shouldn’t be as difficult as it is. The country’s food inflation is at a record high of more than 40 per cent and prices of staples such as rice, beans and bread have skyrocketed. This is part of the reason why Nigeria has slipped down the ranking of Africa’s largest economies from first place in 2022 to fourth today. According to the World Food Programme, it is now one of the globe’s “hunger hot spots”.

Why don’t people in the wider world – where the narrative about Nigeria is largely of a young, booming nation – hear more about this? Part of the reason is that many other countries are suffering from high inflation too, so our crisis, though severe, isn’t considered unique. And many of Nigeria’s problems are longstanding and seemingly unsolvable. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was elected as president in 2023 on a promise to bring down inflation; after his inauguration he moved quickly to end a decades-long subsidy on petroleum products and devalue the naira. Both policies have backfired.

Tinubu has focused on monetary and fiscal policy, largely ignoring the fact that food inflation is the main driver of the country’s economic woes. Part of the issue is that Nigeria’s agricultural heartland is beleaguered by armed insurgencies whose fighters have murdered hundreds of farmers this year alone. Many have chosen to abandon their businesses, further driving up food prices. Tinubu’s government must prioritise security and ensure that farmers can return to their land. Otherwise, this emergency will only continue. Among Lagos’s middle class, inflation has sucked the enjoyment out of life – and for the country’s poor, the problem could become far, far worse.

Ope Adetayo is a Lagos-based journalist and writer, and a regular Monocle contributor.

The Briefings

Aviation / India

India’s infrastructure under pressure after roof collapse at New Delhi airport

On Friday morning the roof of Terminal One at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport collapsed, killing one person and injuring several others. The immediate cause was intense rainfall (almost 150mm in three hours) but the disaster was further evidence of how poor infrastructure and extreme weather are inflicting damage on India’s burgeoning economic reputation. Before last month’s general election, much was made of the country’s booming economy and how incumbent prime minister Narendra Modi’s shrewd leadership was to thank for it.

But in the lead-up to the vote, the country’s capital suffered a wave of calamities, both natural and human-made. As the nearly 30 million-strong city sweltered in May’s record-breaking temperatures, water shortages led to a number of heat-related deaths, while recent rainfall caused widespread power cuts and flooding. Hopefully, this disaster at the country’s busiest airport will provide the necessary motivation to improve standards and prevent further loss of life.

Image: Getty Images

Society / South Korea

Busan enters ‘phase of extinction’ as its elderly population swells

Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, has entered a “phase of extinction”, according to the Korea Employment Information Service. Its population has fallen by about 580,000 since 1995, while the proportion of residents aged 65 or older has reached 23 per cent – which means that the city qualifies as a “super-ageing society”. In May the country’s president, Yoon Suk Yeol, announced the creation of a new ministry to tackle South Korea’s declining birth rate, which he described as a “national emergency”.

Seoul has already spent more than 360 trillion won (€240bn) since 2006 on fertility strategies, including showering new parents with cash, subsidising housing and even importing foreign nannies. But South Koreans continue to cite a relentless work culture and poor quality of life as reasons for not having children. Until such concerns are directly addressed, Busan won’t be the only city in the country at risk of demographic calamity.

Beyond the Headlines

IN PRINT / Issue 175

The districts setting the bar for quality of life

Is quality of life a sense of community, walking your dog on the beach every morning or being surrounded by greenery, all while being within easy reach of busier places? We soak in the bohemian blocks of Fremantle in Western Australia, stroll around Kita-Kamakura, a beachside Japanese resort town, and walk the sun-blush streets of Chiaia in Naples, to discover their pull and find out why residents won’t be leaving in a hurry.

Taking a dip and Cicerello’s Fremantle

Image: Jo Duck/Andrea Pugiotto/Kentaro Ito

Kuld Creamery owners and ice cream at Kuld Creamery

Image: Jo Duck/Andrea Pugiotto/Kentaro Ito

Lunchtime crowd at Osteria della Mattonella

Image: Jo Duck/Andrea Pugiotto/Kentaro Ito

Ponte di Chiaia, which dates back to the 17th century, and effortless moped-ready style

Image: Jo Duck/Andrea Pugiotto/Kentaro Ito

Happy walkers on Yuigahama Beach

Image: Jo Duck/Andrea Pugiotto/Kentaro Ito

Produce market in Kamakura and fresh goods at La Petite Boulangerie

Image: Jo Duck/Andrea Pugiotto/Kentaro Ito

Monocle Radio / The Stack

Roman Coppola and Johan Chiaramonte on their new magazine ‘Enthousiasmos’

This week we speak with Roman Coppola and Johan Chiaramonte on their new magazine, Enthousiasmos, featuring Luca Guadagnino on the cover. Plus: US author and stationery connoisseur Brett F Braley-Palko.


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