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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 09/11/2011

 

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Berlusconi announces gradual resignation

 

After losing his parliamentary majority, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced on Tuesday evening that he was ready to resign. But he wants to give up his office only after the new budget law has been passed. That is too late because the country badly needs to win back the confidence of the financial markets, commentators write.

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Slow-motion resignation is risky

Prime Minister Berlusconi plans to pass the reforms promised at the summits in Brussels and Cannes before he leaves office. But the delay in his departure poses major risks, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera warns: "Berlusconi is resigning, but in slow motion. The gesture is testimony to a commendable sense of responsibility but it could lead to a dangerous pause in activities that would be fatal for a country that has been exposed to the speculators' attacks for months. The coming weeks threaten to be very difficult. Above all if the government comes across as wanting to postpone the final decisions rather than making them as quickly as possible. ... This would produce a gaping abyss." (09/11/2011)

De Standaard - Belgium

Financial markets topple Berlusconi

The planned resignation of Silvio Berlusconi is a merciful release that nonetheless leaves a bitter aftertaste, writes the liberal daily De Standaard: "As long as Berlusconi was sitting in the Palazzo Chigi no one believed that Italy would enact the economic reforms demanded of it to calm the markets. Because he has lost the very last remnants of his credibility Berlusconi must now step down - in the interest of all Europe. For if Italy, like Greece, begins to falter the European edifice would come under such pressure that it could be fatal. The whole episode leaves a bitter aftertaste: it was only because the democratically elected Italian politicians felt the sharpened knife of the financial markets and the EU in their backs that they plucked up the courage to get rid of Berlusconi. ... This does not bode well for the country, because the imminent departure of the Cavaliere is merely a first step towards Italy regaining the confidence of the international financial markets." (09/11/2011)

Kurier - Austria

Italians don't want reforms

Berlusconi's announced departure won't change much in the Italians' relationship to politics, the daily Kurier suspects: "Like other Southern European countries, Italy's political tradition is different to that in the north. They give the state less - for example in taxes - but also demand less in return. The harmony regarding economic policy without which the European Monetary Union cannot function in the long run cannot be achieved under such a system - no matter how many hundreds of billions of euros the EU pumps towards Sicily. Fundamental reforms would be necessary. But where is the government that could enact such reforms supposed to come from all of a sudden - and do the Italians even want such a government? After all, they've already had a few decades of democracy to think it over." (09/11/2011)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

No successor in sight

There is no sign of an adequate successor to outgoing Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, the left-liberal daily The Guardian writes: "Italians as individuals have low levels of debt, as do Italian businesses. Britain would be happy to have a middle band of family companies as varied as that which Italy still possesses, or some of the major corporations which Italy still boasts. The Italian economy is not a shipwreck. But the Italian ship of state needs a credible new captain. Unfortunately, there is no obvious charismatic choice. Throughout the Berlusconi years, an inadequate opposition has played into his hands. A figure from his own party, with Berlusconi still behind the scenes, would almost certainly fail to convince the markets. An interim government of experts might briefly calm things down, but a new election would almost certainly do the opposite. Whether a better government can solve Italy's problems if it stays in the eurozone is the biggest question of all." (09/11/2011)

Les Echos - France

A new chance for Italy

After the announced resignation of Berlusconi Italy will have a new opportunity to extricate itself from the debt crisis, writes the business paper Les Echos: "The resignation of Berluscon is a first step. The second is the hasty presentation of a serious and credible plan for restructuring the country. Of course the medicine will be just as bitter as in other European countries. But as opposed to Greece, Italy still has a few trump cards up its sleeve. Fifty-five percent of its public debt is owed to local banks and private individuals, and the country still has strong industrial companies and a network of medium-sized businesses. ... After Berlusconi Italy now needs to be governed by a stricter team of politicians, something Europe also badly needs." (09/11/2011)

POLITICS

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Blog Pitsirikos - Greece

Greeks too lazy to lead their country

Greece still lacks a new government; it is due to be announced today, Wednesday. The blogger Pitsirikos makes fun of the delay in forming an interim government: "The explanations given by the candidates for why they won't accept the office of prime minister are justifying the foreign media in all they have said and written about us Greeks in recent years. We see that there are jobs but no one wants to take them. This confirms the opinion of foreigners who describe us as lazy. If the Greeks don't even want the job of prime minister then perhaps their aversion to hard work in agriculture is also more comprehensible. ... And then we complain about the high level of unemployment." (08/11/2011)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Prevent Iranian atom bomb without violence

According to a report published yesterday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran is working on developing a nuclear bomb. In response to the news Israel has indicated its readiness to retaliate with a military strike. But the nuclear bomb must be prevented by peaceful means, the daily Dagens Nyheter urges: "Sanctions are only of limited use. Russia and China have taken part in them against their will, and now for the most part reject sanctions against Iranian oil and gas exports. Doubt also reigns supreme in the West as a result of the debt crisis and a slump in the economy, because such a move could force up oil prices. Nevertheless sanctions are the best path. It remains to be seen if one can talk sense into a theocracy. Nevertheless all of these options must be tested to prevent the unpredictable Iranian regime from becoming a nuclear power." (09/11/2011)

Polityka Online - Poland

A victory for Poland's female politicians

The Polish parliament on Tuesday named Ewa Kopacz as its first female Marshal, and with Wanda Nowicka appointed as her deputy another woman has joined the Presidium. But it was a hard-fought battle against the forces of conservatism, the online edition of the left-liberal news magazine Polityka notes: "We have two women speakers in the Presidium. That is another small revolution for Poland, but it was by no means easy. First there were the absurd accusations against Ewa Kopacz [by the conservative opposition PiS party] that she didn't do enough to clear up the Smolensk catastrophe. But that was just the prelude to what Wanda Nowicka had to go through. ... She failed in the first vote, primarily because of resistance from her colleagues in the [liberal-conservative governing party] Civic Platform. Because it was clear from the outset how the PiS would react. ... Then it took a personal intervention by Prime Minister Donald Tusk to decide the second vote vote." (09/11/2011)

Turun Sanomat - Finland

Nord Stream just a business for Russia

The Rusian-European Nord Stream pipeline that runs under the Baltic went into operation on Tuesday, following a great deal of discussion about the growing dependency on Russian gas. But it's also in Russia's interest to provide smooth gas deliveries, writes the liberal daily Turun Sanomat: "Our Russian neighbour hasn't always been the most dependable trading partner as far as oil and gas are concerned, and has quickly turned off the tap when it wanted to exert pressure. The scenario has also been evoked whereby Russia could be forced to choose between its own needs and those of export markets in harsh winter conditions, if for some reason its needs could not be met. But until now this has not been the case. ... Gas consumption reached a record high last winter because of the cold weather, but gas deliveries were unaffected. Nord Stream's opponents cannot understand, let alone accept, the thought that the gas pipeline is just a business and nothing else for Russia. Russia needs foreign currency and will do all it can to honour its obligations to deliver gas." (09/11/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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Spiegel Online - Germany

Jan Fleischhauer sees Habermas as an hysterical doomsayer

The commotion over the euro crisis has reached a hysterical pitch, notes journalist Jan Fleischhauer in his column for news portal Spiegel Online. In particular he criticises German philosopher Jürgen Habermas' warnings of a "post-democracy": "When Habermas starts talking he really goes for maximum impact, as we see. This is the way it was 25 years ago when he spoke of 'the West's political culture' going to the dogs. ... Now it's financial fascism he wants to save us from. ... Contrary to his reputation as a cool-headed great thinker, Habermas clearly belongs to the ranks of the apocalyptic-minded hysterical doomsayers. In his account of the euro crisis, politics has long since been caught up in the wheels of the economy. ... Instead of trying to ensure social equality the democratic decisionmakers are preoccupied with providing the markets with business. They are the slaves or, like the German Chancellor, the willing accomplices of 'a crazed financial capitalism' that is interested solely in the short-term prosperity of the shareholders and regards the democratic legitimation processes as superfluous. ... In reality all the rhetoric is aimed at exonerating the politicians of their responsibility, leaving them free to continue with the politics of convenience."    (09/11/2011)

De Groene Amsterdammer - Netherlands

Aukje van Roessel sees Europe's democracy in distress

The euro crisis is a crisis of democracy, writes journalist Aukje van Roessel in the left-leaning weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, commenting on the cancelled plans for a referendum in Greece: "If we take a closer look at Europe we can see a great gap between an elite and the average citizens. Even before Papandreou's plan for a referendum it was clear from the discussions about a solution to the euro crisis that the people were seen as a burden, as blocking a real solution. A number of economists accuse the Eurozone countries of showing too much consideration for their voters. This criticism reveals an essentially anti-democratic stance. Democracy as a form of government is going through a difficult period, not just in Europe. ... But the rise of the economic superpower China demonstrates that growing prosperity is also possible without democracy. And when Islamist parties win the free elections in Arab countries this raises questions about the rights and liberties of women and minorities. These developments are a challenge to Western democracies. Or are we perhaps willing to sacrifice even democracy for the sake of our prosperity?" (09/11/2011)

ECONOMY

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Cyprus Mail - Cyprus

Cyprus's anti-crisis policy irresponsible

Rating agency Moody's on Friday lowered the creditworthiness of the Republic of Cyprus to just one notch about junk status. Moody's justified the step by pointing to the Cypriot banks' strong involvement in Greece. The liberal daily Cyprus Mail criticises the hesitant anti-crisis policy of the government: "Things were so desperate the Central Bank governor on Saturday spoke of the need to raise taxes, a catastrophic measure during a recession. But there is no other option given the government's refusal to address the structural rigidities in the government budget, for fear of upsetting the unions. The suspicion is that the government would prefer to enter the support mechanism and have unpopular measures imposed on it, rather than be burdened with the political cost of such decisions. It is a colossally irresponsible approach because the harm this does to Cyprus as a financial services centre may be irreparable." (08/11/2011)

Expansión - Spain

Spanish authorities hinder Ikea's expansion

The Swedish furniture company Ikea expects to register a profit of 2.2 percent on the Spanish market this year, while Spanish furniture companies are complaining of losses of up to 40 percent. The liberal business paper Expansión expresses regret that Ikea's expansion is still being hindered by red tape: "Ikea plans to invest around 2.5 billion euros by 2020 in doubling the number of its branches on Spanish soil (currently 13). This news should be a cause for satisfaction given that every new branch that has opened has created new jobs in Spain, as well as boosting consumption and the supplier industry. The company plans to recruit 400 new workers for the new branch in Valladolid from December and create around 18,000 jobs directly and indirectly in the next decade. Notwithstanding that, Ikea still constantly has to contend with the hurdles and obstacles created by the local authorities in its efforts to expand its business. This is lamentable." (09/11/2011)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Standart - Bulgaria

Survive like a Bulgarian for a week

In the British TV game show Go Greek for a Week families can test what it's like to receive high salaries, pay no taxes and plunge their country into a debt crisis. The daily Standart is not at all amused by the broadcaster Channel 4's idea: "Once again those who disobey the rules get all the laughs and even become TV heroes. None of the television stations is interested in the disciplined Bulgarians who live in permanent crisis. Why doesn't Channel 4 come to Bulgaria and make a reality show called Go Bulgarian for a Week? The games would be different than with the Greeks, for example: how do I survive on a pension that would at best pay for tickets to a good play or concert? Or: how do I survive in a school, a hospital or a football stadium? The show could be called Survive like a Bulgarian and see how old it makes you look." (08/11/2011)

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