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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 22/03/2011

 

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Election setback for Sarkozy

 

In the French cantonal elections on Sunday President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party was beaten by the Socialists and almost overtaken by the extreme right Front National. A disastrous result for Sarkozy with presidential elections looming in 2012, the press writes, speculating that his party may not even choose him as its candidate.

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Marine Le Pen dangerous for Sarkozy

French President Sarkozy's conservative UMP party obtained just two percentage points more than the extreme right Front National in Sunday's cantonal elections. The left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung warns of the threat posed by the Front National's chairman Marine Le Pen: "It can no longer be ruled out that the young nationalist leader will beat Sarkozy in the first round of the presidential elections in 2012 and make it to the run-off vote. That would be a disaster for France and a dark omen for Europe. ... She wants to reintroduce the franc, leave the EU and protect local industry with trade barriers. ... For Sarkozy governing will become even more difficult than it already is. He must communicate a feeling of confidence to the insecure French without becoming xenophobic or Islamophobic. He will have to impose the German stability policy on France without provoking massive social unrest. That will be difficult. But one thing is reassuring: even if Sarkozy fails, Marine Le Pen will not become president. Because the French are reasonable enough to prefer a socialist." (22/03/2011)

Libération - France

Sarkozy's party self-destructs

The results of the first round of France's cantonal elections are a disaster for President Sarkozy's governing UMP party. But it only has itself to blame, writes the left-liberal daily Libération, pointing to the party's attitude in the run-up to the decisive second round this Sunday: "It is doing all it can to save face. But in fact the majority is burying its head in the sand and refusing to face the basic facts: today's political dynamic is entirely in favour of Martine Le Pen. By 2012 it will have to find a way to counter attack. But by Sunday the most important thing for the Right must be to say clearly to its supporters what they must do in the silence of the voting booth. Chose your camp, comrade. By rejecting and excluding both the FN and the PS, and by refusing to give the slightest instructions on how to vote, the UMP has sown the seeds of ambiguity and is already harvesting cacophony, not to say division." (22/03/2011)

Europa quotidiano - Italy

Head of state lacks political strategy

In the first round of the French cantonal elections all the conservative parties together obtained 32 percent of the vote, but this still can't conceal the paltry 17 percent garnered by President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, the online paper Europa quotidiano comments. The boost Sarkozy had hoped military intervention in Libya would give him in elections failed to materialise: "It is unnecessary to quote the generous oil contracts of the [French crude oil company] Total or Gaz de France's deals to understand why Nicolas Sarkozy has plunged headlong into the Libyan conflict. All you need do is look at the results of the cantonal elections. Interior Minister Claude Guéant speaks of 32 percent for the Conservatives by including every single right-wing group available - local parties, local movements, anything that could be used to convince public opinion that the party is in good shape. It is becoming increasingly clear that Sarkozy urgently needs to improve in the polls to run as a candidate for his own re-election in the 2012 presidential elections. As it's obviously too late for a political strategy he's obviously prepared to resort to any means available." (22/03/2011)

POLITICS

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Aamulehti - Finland

Allies lack goals for Libya mission

Since the air strikes against Libya began the allies have been at odds about how the intervention should be continued. The liberal daily Aamulehti bemoans the lack of a clear strategy, which it says must be a prerequisite for Finnish involvement: "After the initial success it is now unclear what will happen next. Is the ultimate goal the complete deposition of Gaddafi's government or is the rest of the world content to see Libya split in two, with Gaddafi and his buddies ruling the west of the country and the rebels in control of the east? The dissension about goals within the alliance is only compounding this lack of clarity. ...  A roadmap needs to be quickly charted out for the Libya operation in which the allies lay down common and realistic goals and acceptable means for achieving them, as well as a timetable. Without such a roadmap Finland can't even begin to consider joining the alliance's operation, should we be asked to do so." (22/03/2011)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Strange criticism of war against Gaddafi

The military intervention set up to establish a no-fly zone over Libya is based on a decision by the UN Security Council. But now Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is labelling it a crusade, while the Arab League also voices its protest. The conservative daily Lidové finds this strange: "Everyone wanted the war - or did they? Russia did not block the no-fly zone in the UN. The Arab League called for its establishment on March 12. But now it's secretary-general is saying it had envisaged the intervention merely as protection for the civil population, and that no one wanted bombs. Then what did they want? Threats against Gaddafi and then trust in his word of honour? What that looks like became clear last weekend - with his attacks against the rebels." (22/03/2011)

El País - Spain

Yemen's regime facing its end

After the violent deaths of dozens of demonstrators in Yemen on Friday a growing number of important people are turning their backs on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh will soon be forced to step down, predicts the left-liberal daily El País: "In Yemen, roiled by the popular uprisings which have swept through the Arab world it seems a critical boundary was overstepped on Friday when snipers shot and killed 52 demonstrators who were demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital, Sanaa. The dismissal of the government, the state of emergency and the army's solemn proclamation yesterday of its support for the Arab dictator - who has been in power for 32 years - are signs of the disintegration of a regime which in the last few hours has been abandoned by high-ranking military officials, ministers, important ambassadors and parliamentarians, all of whom have now joined the ranks of the opposition." (22/03/2011)

Les Echos - France

The true price of nuclear energy

The catastrophe at the Japanese nuclear plant Fukushima 1 got people around the world debating the viability of nuclear phaseout again. France, which gets around 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, is no exception. For the business paper Les Echos, safety precautions must be taken against such accidents, even if the cost will trigger an enormous increase in the price of electricity: "There are plenty of so-called 'alternative' scenarios. The most responsible of them point out that the best kind of energy is the energy you don't consume, and go on to work out elaborate programmes for 'energy moderation'. But consumers and industry have resolutely opted for unlimited consumption of cheap energy. The scenario which addresses the root of the problem must dare to foresee a tenfold increase in standard energy prices so as to guarantee the financing of comprehensive nuclear safety measures (should nuclear energy still be in use then). ... But anyone who supported such a measure would certainly be punished. For having told the truth." (22/03/2011)

Delo - Slovenia

Corrupt MEP gives up

In the aftermath of the bribery scandal which has hit the European Parliament the Slovenian MEP Zoran Thaler on Monday announced his resignation, following the example of other colleagues before him. On Monday morning he was still protesting that he had done nothing illegal. Corruption is inherent to politics, the daily Delo laments: "Thaler's 'euroscandal' has reaffirmed the Slovenian public in its belief that politics is corrupt. Anyone who has the opportunity to earn a few (thousand) euros on the side will take advantage of it, even if the affair is morally dubious and even punishable. ... The politicians' greed for more and more money and the greed of companies who see their profit margins dwindle by a few euros every now and then owing to the decisions of politicians are the cause of this corruption. MEPs and other functionaries will never be paid enough to stop them from getting involved in corrupt dealings. There will always be somebody who wants more. And that's why it's a good thing that such cases are being punished." (22/03/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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România Liberâ - Romania

Nicolae Prelipceanu on the Arab double bind

The West is currently celebrating the rebellions in the Arab World as heralding a period of democratic transition. But publicist Nicolae Prelipceanu sees Western civilisation stuck between a rock and a hard place in the daily Romania Libera: "Western civilisation is in a double bind. Its basic principles ... do not allow it to look on impassively while the citizens of another country are slaughtered. On the other hand it knows that by supporting rebellion it will fuel the conflict with anti-Western Islamist forces. ... I fear that these revolutions are actually just a conflict between two sorts of intolerance: that of the dictator on the one hand and that of the Islamic masses on the other. The West supported the first sort - albeit passively - for decades, for as long as the dictators were of some use to it. Now the West is rallying behind the second sort of intolerance. Is our world not committing under the pressure of its rules and norms a new mistake of the sort you see in chess, when a player is forced to make a move that will lead to his own defeat?" (22/03/2011)

ECONOMY

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Diário Económico - Portugal

Portuguese suffer from higher prices

Food prices in Portugal have risen by six percent since the beginning of the year. Portugal's government is doing too little to counter this trend, writes the business paper Diário Económico: "The Portuguese are already being bombarded with bad news - and now at the dining table too. At least that's what's happening to all the consumers who have seen the prices for a whole range of foods rise by at least two to six percent since the beginning of the year: milk pudding, cereals, cocoa powder, cheese, margarine, beer and coffee. The big production companies and retailers can't absorb the impact of spiralling raw material prices, above all for cereals. As a result the tab is being passed on to consumers. ... And what's the solution? ... We should reduce our dependence on cereals and oil seed from abroad because these account for 40 percent of food imports. To bring about this change we need reforms, a production and investment strategy and of course time. But this goal isn't even on the country's list of priorities." (22/03/2011)

Sega - Bulgaria

Bulgaria bullies small businesses

Small and medium enterprises in Bulgaria are systematically put at a disadvantage by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's government, writes the daily Sega: "These companies have always been a thorn in the side of Bulgaria's leaders. They were abolished under socialism, and faced greater or lesser obstacles in the years of transition. But in the past two years the repression has been carried to extremes. ... The goal is now clear: consumers are to be redirected from small to large companies. Ultimately the latter have more influence over voters. And more money. But does the government understand what the collapse of small business means for a country? Hardly. The power of the cartels and retail chains not only results in monopolies, higher prices and the demise of family businesses. It damages the mentality of the nation, its very identity." (21/03/2011)

SOCIETY

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Sme - Slovakia

Crucifix a "passive symbol"

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Friday dismissed a case brought by Italian parents, ruling that crucifixes are allowed in state schools. Slovakian politicians see the decision as confirming their own view that Christian beliefs are part of Europe's canon of values. This is reading too much into the decision, the liberal daily Sme argues: "According to the court the crucifix is a 'passive' symbol in Italian schools - in other words a symbol whose presence has no indoctrinating influence. The crucifix should not be an expression of any attempt to convert pupils to Christianity as the sole valid doctrine. In other words: if the crucifix became an 'active' symbol, a symbol of indoctrination, it would no longer be in conformity with European principles on human rights." (22/03/2011)

NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

The Netherlands finally allows online poker

The Dutch government has ruled that in accordance with a decision by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg the Netherlands will in future allow commercial operators to run online poker games, thus giving up part of the state's monopoly on gambling. This measure was long overdue, the daily NRC Handelsblad writes: "In this matter a lot of common sense was imported from Europe. The Netherlands is now joining the European trend. Belgium, Denmark and France already have a head start when it comes to private operators offering games of chance on the Internet. This opens up possibilities for combating the risk of addiction by forcing operators to meet certain conditions. Upper limits for bets and for game duration, as well as the exclusion of certain participants. ... This is certainly not superfluous. The state would be better off investing its energies in monitoring and regulating the business rather than bullying citizens and protecting the state casino." (21/03/2011)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

British court composer falls into disgrace

The British Master of the Queen's Music Sir Peter Maxwell Davies will not, as generally expected, write the wedding music for Prince William and Kate Middleton. The bridal couple has decided in favour of a composer whose name has yet to be made public. He has fallen into disgrace for his lack of patriotism, Damian Thompson suspects in his blog for the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph: "Last November, Sir Peter announced that he would not 'legitimise' the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan by wearing a poppy or attending Remembrance Day services. He intended this as a political statement - but that's not how it will have been interpreted by Buckingham Palace, which shares the view of the British public that gestures and services of remembrance transcend politics. ... You cannot publicly trash national symbols that the Queen holds dear and then expect to be honoured at her grandson's wedding." (22/03/2011)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Train journey from Riga to Tallinn too long

When the train schedules change on May 29 in Estonia, passengers will once more have the possibility after years of there being no connection to travel from the Estonian capital Tallinn to the Latvian capital Riga. For the daily Eesti Päevaleht there is still no cause for celebration: "First of all it's not a direct journey, you have to change at the [border] town of Valga. So in effect all that's happened is that two separate lines have been linked up. Secondly the entire journey lasts over eight hours, whereas it takes only four hours by bus. That means it's something for only very patient travellers. The bus connection between Tallinn and Riga is truly exemplary, but that between Tartu and Riga it is all the worse, even though - embarrassingly - these cities are closer to each other. [The nineteenth-century poet] Kristjan Jaak Peterson made the trip by foot." (22/03/2011)

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