The Islam-hating provocateur, Geert Wilders, will not be the next prime minister of The Netherlands, writes James Traub in Foreign Policy magazine, but he has nevertheless won today's Dutch election.
Traub reckons that, though it may be tempting the gods to say so, it is far likelier that the centre-right will form the next administration. Wilders's party, the PVV, has been sinking in the polls in recent weeks and is now expected to take only 25 of the 150 seats in the parliament. If it comes to building a coalition, no mainstream party would accept the PVV as a member of it.
'Wilders, in short, will remain in the opposition. But that doesn't mean that he has lost. He has so thoroughly reshaped Dutch political culture that voters who share his views, but find him ultra vires, can now vote for any number of parties that have taken a hard line on immigrants and on Islam...This is Europe's politics in 2017: the centre holds, but only by giving ground to the nationalist right'.
After a week in which North Korea successfully lobbed four intermediate-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, the American state department no longer sees North Korea's weapon tests as amateurish provocations, writes Joby Warrick in the Washington Post. Instead they are viewed as evidence of a rapidly growing threat – and one that increasingly defies solution.
Pyongyang's growing arsenal has 'rattled key US allies and spurred efforts by all sides to develop new first-strike capabilities, increasing the risk that a simple mistake could trigger a devastating regional war'. Warrick quotes Victor Cha, a former US adviser on North Korea: 'This is no longer about a lonely dictator crying for attention or demanding recognition. This is now a military testing program to acquire a proven capability'.
'North Korea', writes Warrick, 'has been slammed with ever-tighter United Nations sanctions meant to cut off access to technology and foreign aid cash flows. Yet, despite the trade restrictions, diplomatic isolation, threats and occasional sabotage, the country's weapons programs have continued their upward march, goaded forward by dictators willing to sacrifice their citizens' well-being to grow the country's military might. And now, in the fifth year of Kim Jong Un's rule, progress is coming in leaps'.
The Canadian current affairs magazine, Macleans, wonders about the effectiveness of individual protests againt Trump's travel restrictions. Nick Taylor-Vaisey writes that Canadian academics are boycotting conferences south of the border, Canadian authors are calling off public appearances, and some Canadian tourists are taking a break from visiting the Grand Canyon until the next president is inaugurated.
Resentment in Canada has been fuelled by the experience of two of its citizens, Fadwa Alaoui and Manpreet Kooner, who were denied entry into the US and told they required immigration visas. Alaoui wanted to give her son, stricken with cancer, a change of scenery for the day. Kooner wanted to visit a spa. 'Both were left understandably shaken, and neither found any justice at the end of their nightmares'.
Taylor-Vaisey acknowledges that boycotts in solidarity are a natural response. Withholding a couple of thousand dollars in delegate fees, sightseeing adventures or duty-free liquor could add up 'if only tens of thousands of us would join forces and punish America for its president's destructive immigration policy'. But he doubts that it will happen. In 2014, Canadian tourists spent 23 million nights and $21 billion in the United States: it would take not tens but hundreds of thousands of individual boycotts to make any real dent in such a flow of travellers.
James Forsyth, political editor of the Spectator, writes that in recent weeks, Downing Street has been contemplating attaching conditions to a second independence referendum in Scotland. One possibility is that the SNP would have to be able to give voters clarity on what relationship with the EU an independent Scotland would have. This would delay it beyond the spring of 2019.
More controversially, says Forsyth, Number 10 is also leaning towards saying that the pro-independence side would have to obtain a mandate for another referendum in the 2021 Holyrood elections. After 14 years in power, the SNP would have to win a majority, or, given the Greens' support for independence, very close to one.
'In these circumstances', concludes Forsyth, 'it is far from certain that a second independence referendum would take place'.