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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 18/04/2011



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Finnish election endangers euro rescue


The right-wing populist True Finns won 19 percent of the vote in Sunday's parliamentary elections in Finland, ranking third overall. This means the party will presumably participate in the next government. Europe's press fears that with its anti-EU rhetoric the True Finns could endanger the stabilisation of the euro.

Iltalehti - Finland

Protest against social change

The right-wing populist True Finns have today's rusty political and social structures to thank for their success in Sunday's parliamentary elections, writes the tabloid Iltalehti: "Neither the scandal over party financing nor the euro crisis caused this landslide. Many are fed up with the party structure that's been in place now for over a century, in which differences between the three large parties are increasingly difficult to discern. Above all the vote marks a wave of protest against social change, which many view as taking place too rapidly. Globalisation has rendered prospects uncertain, while it seems no one has the competence to make decisions. ... The True Finns must now be given a real chance to shoulder responsibility." (18/04/2011)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Stop populism spiral

The victory of the right-wing populist True Finns party in Finland's general elections puts the euro's stability at risk and is therefore a wake-up call for all of Europe, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera writes: "The Finnish voters have sent a message beyond the country's borders. ... Not just in Finland, but elsewhere too, the inability of governments to give the single currency a credible structure is encouraging anti-European populism. ... The euro crisis alone does not explain the Finns' discontent, but it is fanning the populist anger which is increasingly impeding the bailout of struggling states. This is why the governments in Helsinki and The Hague now have little room for manoeuvre, and it increases the risk of the debt crisis spreading, which in turn fosters more populism. The spiral must be stopped before it's too late." (18/04/2011)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Frustration over established parties

The remarkably high voter turnout of around 70 percent in the Finnish general elections was mainly due to the mobilisation achieved by the right-wing populist True Finns party, writes the daily Eesti Päevleht: "Many Finns were lured to the polling stations by the good weather, but an even more important factor was the True Finns party: many Finns voted for it because they've had enough of the three big parties and their financing scandals, but at the same time many other Finns are afraid of this group and its politicians and went to the ballot to vote against them. ... Whether they will be included in the government or not is not just a Finnish internal matter but affects all Europe. This will determine for example what course the rescue of the struggling euro countries takes." (18/04/2011)

Aftonbladet - Sweden

Helsinki influences EU finance policy

With the success of the right-wing True Finns under Timo Soini in Finland's parliamentary elections the country will play a key role in EU finance policy, writes the tabloid Aftonbladet: "It wasn't his attitude to immigrants that sparked the Wall Street Journal's interest in him. Timo Soini is suddenly a key figure as regards the future of the euro. ... Because there is now a risk that the Finnish parliament will put a stop to the Eurozone's financial support for crisis-ridden Portugal. Southern Europe should go ahead and go bankrupt, Soini believes. ... Yesterday's parliamentary elections will have repercussions. Finland's share of the loan guarantees amounts to roughly 1.4 billion euros. That can certainly be borne by the other euro countries. But the whole decision must now be renegotiated. It's not often that Finnish politics influences global financial markets." (18/04/2011)


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El País - Spain

Sarkozy's refugee policy raises EU doubts

French authorities temporarily blocked trains from Italy on Sunday in a bid to prevent Tunisian immigrants who have been granted temporary Shengen visas by Italy from entering the country. French President Sarkozy is on a cheap quest for votes which casts doubt on the very foundations of the EU, the left-liberal daily El País warns: "It is not difficult to link this measure that conflicts with the Schengen agreement on free circulation within the EU with President Nicolas Sarkozy's rapidly sinking popularity and the intense preparations for the presidential elections in 2012. ... The European Union is evidently not at its best right now, as its inane and largely rhetorical reaction to the democratic changes in the Arab world indicate. All this is causing the different states to act bilaterally and counter to the European construct, as in the case of the military intervention of France and the UK in Libya. If Schengen falls now we must start to ask why the union of 27 states exists at all." (18/04/2011)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Judgement increases Croatia's EU doubts

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on Friday sentenced the Croat ex-general Ante Gotovina to 24 years in prison for war crimes. The conservative daily Magyar Nemzet believes this will boost scepticism about Europe in EU candidate Croatia: "It is not pleasant to be a Croat nowadays. Just as before it was not pleasant to be a Serb. Since the terrible war between brothers in the Yugoslavian region the peoples of the West Balkans have had to put up with a never-ending series of frustrations. We know too little to judge whether the sentence against Ante Gotovina is just. Is he a national hero, a war criminal or just a general who did his duty? ... For the majority of Croats it is clear that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia delivered an unjust sentence. ... Under the influence of this shattering judgement the European Union's already battered popularity is likely to shrink even more in this Balkan state." (16/04/2011)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Slovakia a model for Hungary

Hungary's parliament will vote today on its new constitution, which much of Europe frowns upon as nationalist. Slovakia can serve as a role model for Hungary, writes the conservative daily Lidové noviny: "The Slovaks also passed a nationalistic constitution when the country was established. And like its Slovakian precursor, the Hungarian constitution is certainly strange. But far more important than that is how it works in practice. ... Today Slovakia is a respectable, non-nationalist, liberal state which could serve as a model for Hungary in many respects. Of course Budapest would have to come a long way before it could admit that Slovakia could be a role model. And this would have to take it in the very opposite direction to that now being taken with Viktor Orbán's new constitution." (18/04/2011)

Die Presse - Austria

Cuba's revolution a failure

Cuba's communist party began its 6th party conference on the weekend. During the meeting head of state Raúl Castro spoke out in favour of a ten-year cap on holding political office, which the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse interprets as the failure of the communist revolution: "Because the high functionaries, including the ministers and heads of state (since 1959 there has only been two: Castro and his brother Fidel), liked governing so much and never built up any counter pressure to the communist party, there are no young functionaries who would be competent to take over high administrational and government office. The young revolutionaries turned into rulers determined to cling to power, blocking the way for the progress of new generations and ways of thinking. They always argued that 'the revolution' and 'socialism' held the one and only eternal truth, so that there was no real need for a change in the system. This is one of the reasons why Cuba looks so old and worn-out nowadays." (18/04/2011)

Libération - France

Nuclear phaseout a long-winded affair

The head of the company operating the damaged nuclear reactor in Fukushima announced on the weekend that it will take another three months to ensure the adequate cooling of the reactors and the storage pool on site. The left-liberal daily Libération writes that it will be a lot longer before the world can fully turn its back on nuclear energy: "There is no end to the drama, the emergency lags on. The feeling of abandonment will never have been so strong among the survivors in the region and the 80,000 displaced persons who still don't know if they'll ever be able to go back home. ... The countdown concerns not only the Japanese, but also all the major powers. Serious researchers confirm it will take at least three or four decades to come up with a realistic alternative to nuclear energy. So no one has put nuclear technology behind them yet, or Fukushima and its devastating consequences either, for that matter." (18/04/2011)


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Diário Económico - Portugal

Joseph E. Stiglitz on global crisis mismanagement

Both the accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant and the global financial crisis have demonstrated poor global risk management, writes Economics Nobel Prize laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz in the business paper Diário Económico: "Both events provide stark lessons about risks, and about how badly markets and societies can manage them. Of course, in one sense, there is no comparison between the tragedy of the earthquake and the financial crisis. ... But when it comes to the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, there is a common theme in the two events. ... Research in economics and psychology helps us understand why we do such a bad job in managing these risks. We have little empirical basis for judging rare events, so it is difficult to arrive at good estimates. In such circumstances, more than wishful thinking can come into play: we might have few incentives to think hard at all. On the contrary, when others bear the costs of mistakes, the incentives favour self-delusion. A system that socializes losses and privatizes gains is doomed to mismanage risk." (15/04/2011)


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Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland

G20 redistribute power

The financial ministers and heads of central banks of the G20 states on Friday agreed to subject the seven major economies to checks in a bid to fight imbalances in the global economy. The decision will radically change the structure of the G20, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino believes: "Officially the group of seven - to which in addition to the two emerging economies China and India the US, Germany, France, the UK and Japan also belong - will be monitored. ... The technical explanation is that these are the countries which contribute most to the economic performance of the group. ... However it is doubtful whether the monitoring will really lead to changes in the economic policies of these countries. ... The sub-group could easily turn into a kind of managing committee of the G20. It will no doubt talk of correcting imbalances. But it's only a short path for solutions initially agreed on within the committee to be passed on to the rest of the G20 countries." (18/04/2011)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung - Germany

Energy transition takes time

Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the premiers of the federal states to discuss a complete nuclear phaseout in Germany. The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung compares the debate with that over the social reforms implemented by Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schröder: "In the late years of Helmut Kohl's chancellorship, the abstract desire for a restructuring of the social welfare state was almost as uncontested as the energy transition is today. The protests only started when it took on concrete form under Gerhard Schröder and the questionnaires started circulating among those in need. Things will be no different when bulldozers start arriving to build embankment dams, the price of electricity soars and light bulbs start to flicker. In this respect there is no difference between the energy reform and all those that went before it. ... Progress will always come at a snail's pace." (17/04/2011)


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Le Soir - Belgium

Paedophile ex-bishop is repulsive

The Belgian ex-bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who resigned last year and was transferred to another parish following revelations that he had abused a nephew, last Thursday admitted to having abused a second nephew in a television interview. After the interview he left the country and is currently staying at a French monastery. The daily Le Soir is appalled by the bishop's admissions: "By publicly confessing ... to having abused a second nephew Roger Vangheluwe has also admitted to lying by omission in a manner that is unforgivable: the victim whom he failed to mention a year ago has now been infamously and injuriously exposed, with the camera running. Let's summarise without claiming completeness: this is about a paedophile priest who has confessed his crimes. Who betrayed his office. Who lies. Who trivialises his crimes. Who drags his victims through the dirt. Who destroys his family. Who makes a mockery of the Vatican's justice and inspires the revulsion of an entire kingdom." (16/04/2011)


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NRC next - Netherlands

Utrecht discriminates against fast Kenyans

The organisers of the marathon in Utrecht on April 25 want to discourage Kenyan runners from coming by lowering the prize money. If a Kenyan wins he will receive 100 euros, while a Dutch victor will take home 10,000 euros. This is a distortion of competition, writes the daily "Will Dutch speed skaters now be forbidden from competing abroad? Must the Swiss stay away from international ski competitions to give the Arabs a chance? Every country has its national sports - the ones that are popular with a comparatively high proportion of its population. A lot of money and attention is invested in training, and the nation is thrilled when the sport is aired on TV. That's how the Dutch - a small nation - reached the finals of the Fifa World Cup. And that's how the Kenyans win marathons. This must be supported, and not penalised. ... No one's going to love an athlete who wins just because the rules were changed." (18/04/2011)

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