Friday 24 November 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 24/11/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Ed Stocker

Being right

No one, it seems, saw the possibility of the far-right Party for Freedom’s Geert Wilders winning the Dutch general election, despite the signs having been there for years. Journalists are recoiling at the result, using colourful adjectives to describe their consternation at this so-called political rupture. Is Wilders the Dutch Donald Trump? Or perhaps the Hague’s answer to Viktor Orbán? All this for someone who is in no way guaranteed to be able to form a coalition with other parties. Even if he does, someone else could still become prime minister.

It has been quite the week for global politics veering to the right. Wilders’ victory comes hot on the heels of libertarian populist Javier Milei winning the presidency in Argentina (two politicians with unmistakable heads of hair). The difference, however, is the fact that Wilders (pictured) is by no means a system-smashing political upstart: he has been in parliament for almost 20 years.

In truth, it’s the centre-right courting voters that has opened the door to this sort of thing – and it’s not just a Dutch phenomenon. Look at the Conservative Party in the UK and its obsession with small boats carrying migrants to the country’s shores. Or the fact that Emmanuel Macron chose to give an interview to Valeurs Actuelles, a magazine associated with the far right. In Italy, it was Silvio Berlusconi who forged alliances with the right-wing Lega party and made the country’s current prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, his minister of youth from 2008 to 2011.

The Netherlands has long chosen to make migration one of its central political themes, led by the outgoing prime minister, Mark Rutte, who split his own VVD party over the issue. In this context, Wilders starts to find himself part of the mainstream.

Europe has unquestionably shifted to the right due to an inability to reach a bloc-wide consensus on immigration and an ongoing cost-of-living crunch. But, more than anything, the centre is paying the price for its crude politicking and inability to deliver.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor at large. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Image: Getty Images

Defence / Korea

Breach of the peace

The fragile peace on the Korean Peninsula suffered a severe setback after North Korea dropped out of 2018’s inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement. The move comes following South Korea’s partial suspension of the pact earlier this week, which was in turn sparked by Pyongyang’s launch of a military spy satellite that Seoul viewed as a direct threat to regional stability.

While North Korea announced the deployment of advanced military weaponry along the border between the two countries, South Korea will be resuming surveillance flights as a countermeasure. This unravelling of the 2018 accord, once hailed as a milestone in peace efforts, is bad news according to analysts and highlights the volatile nature of inter-Korean relations. “The 2018 agreement was carefully constructed to build trust and avoid misunderstandings,” John Everard, former UK ambassador to North Korea, tells The Monocle Minute. “North Korea’s withdrawal from it, especially at such a fragile time, increases the risk of accidental confrontation.”

Image: Shutterstock

Urbanism / Paris

Railing against the Olympics

French transport is in the headlines again but this time it’s not bed bugs. Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has, perhaps carelessly, announced that the city’s public transport network will not cope with the influx of visitors expected during the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, which are set to begin on 26 July. Hidalgo says that the system is already under too much pressure, with commuters citing overcrowding, frequency and cleanliness as major issues.

Her comments sparked criticism from her political and professional counterparts, who have responded by claiming that she failed to participate in a series of meetings on the subject ahead of the Games. Hidalgo has also added to the negative press coverage ahead of the event, which has included stories about steep ticket prices and pollution in the Seine. While doubts tend to circulate about host cities prior to every Olympic Games and politicians resort to petty squabbles, the focus should really fall on preserving the event’s legacy and maintaining the infrastructure built for it.

Culture / Morocco

Berber cuts

The 20th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival (MIFF) starts today, exploring a range of genres, from film noir to political farce. Seventy-five productions from 36 countries – including Brazil, Madagascar and Syria – will be screened, 14 of which will compete for the top Étoile d’Or award. But this year’s event will continue to foster Moroccan talent. The renowned US director and festival regular Martin Scorsese will be the official patron of the sixth annual Atlas Workshops, where he will work with new filmmakers in the MENA region (MIFF is one of the only international festivals of this scale where screenings and classes are open to the public). With the city still reeling from the effects of a major earthquake in September, organisers should be commended for their refusal to cancel; the festival has always generated jobs and been a source of pride for many Moroccans. This year, it seems, will be no different.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Helmut Newton

Picture of the week / Spain

Making a splash

This picture, “Grand Hôtel du Cap, Marie Claire, Antibes, 1972”, is part of a new exhibition at The MOP Foundation, A Coruña, which focuses on the work of one of the fashion world’s most influential documentarians, German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton. The exhibition also features his iconic portraits of personalities such as David Bowie, Monica Bellucci and Karl Lagerfeld. Helmut Newton – Fact & Fiction runs until 1 May 2024.

Monocle Films / Business

Helsinki market-hall revival

To celebrate our inaugural Retail Awards, we head to a newly renovated food hall in Helsinki. From cheese and smoked fish to fresh pastries and locally grown vegetables, the Hakaniemi Market Hall is the perfect place to stock up on supplies – and to linger in cosy restaurants. Join us as we tour its splendid aisles.


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