The Urbanist’s Amsterdam: Talking Points

King Willem-Alexander and Queen MaximaPhoto: Robin Utrecht/Getty Images

Pot Prevails
January 1 was supposed to bring an end to Amsterdam’s reign as the world’s top stoner-tourist attraction: With the enactment of the new policy, brown-bar pot would only be available to Netherlands residents who registered for a special document. But when the program rolled out in part last year, the results were poor, if predictable: Business went, untaxed and unregulated, back onto the streets. The government nixed the plan, and now each municipality gets to choose who can legally buy. What does that mean for Amsterdam? Intoxication as usual, per the mayor.

Queen Maxima
In April, a new king—the first male monarch in 123 years—inherited the Netherlandish throne. The country celebrated with its traditional orange pomp, but it’s King Willem-Alexander’s bride of twelve years, the new Queen Maxima, who is the best part of the story. The Argentina-born investment banker was at a party in Seville in the late nineties when she met a man who introduced himself only as “Alexander.” The truth came out, they married in 2002, and Maxima quickly won over a skeptical public.

The Immigration Issue
The Netherlands has long been a haven for persecuted religious and social groups. But in recent years—particularly since the economic collapse—the country has gone into immigrant shock, turning against its largest-growing population: Muslims. In 2010, the ultraright Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party campaigned on an anti-Islamist platform, securing 24 out of 150 seats in parliament. Though a more centrist government came into power, sentiment remains the same: A new poll revealed that 55 percent of the country wants to halt immigration from Muslim nations.

A Bittersweet Victory
Amsterdam partied hard in May when one of its soccer teams, Ajax, won its third consecutive national championship. But the celebration didn’t last long: Weeks later, larger teams started a bidding war that’s still ongoing for 21-year-old star player Christian Eriksen. Then, earlier this month, 24-year-old midfielder Siem de Jong announced that he, too, might be moving on to a larger club.

The Urbanist’s Amsterdam: Talking Points