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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 24/04/2012

 

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Le Pen's election victory a danger to Europe

Le Pen obtained a record result with 17.9 percent of the vote. (© AP/dapd)

 

The success of the far right politician Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential elections has fuelled the debate over right-wing populism in Europe. It is above all in times of crisis that Europe's voters are susceptible to extreme right-wing ideologies that can gain support across Europe, commentators write.

Dala-Demokraten - Sweden

Right-wing populist vicious circle

Marine Le Pen's success in the election shows how susceptible voters are to extreme right-wing ideologies in times of crisis, writes the social-democratic daily Dala-Demokraten: "Like much of Europe, France finds itself in a vicious circle, as rising unemployment provides a breeding ground for far-right movements. But this vicious circle can be broken with the help of an alternative labour policy and an equitable distribution of available resources. Only in this way can those who are embittered and plagued by self-doubt see that the situation will not improve with ethnic cleansing, but with just and even-handed policies. The Socialist François Hollande stands for just that, while in the conservative camp Sarkozy not only flirts with the far right, but is also clinging on to the austerity measures that the fiscal compact anchored in EU policy under his aegis." (24/04/2012)

Népszava - Hungary

A warning for Europe

Marine Le Pen's good results in the first round of the French presidential elections could mark the beginning of a new European trend, the left-leaning daily Népszava writes: "In the first round almost one in five voters cast their ballot for Marine Le Pen. ... The good results for the far-right Front National are not only worrying from a French point of view. They mark the onset of a trend that could spread across Europe. People are pinning the blame for the crisis on the established parties and political elites who have held power for decades. They seem to be looking for new voices and faces, and she has very cleverly used their disappointment and disillusionment to her own advantage. Her 'victory speech' reveals everything about her strategy. She wants to be the leading force in the opposition and to fight both major parties, Sarkozy's ruling conservative UMP and François Hollande's Socialists. For Le Pen, they play puppet to the banks." (24/04/2012)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Surprising victory for Le Pen

With her record result of 17.9 percent of the vote in the first round of the French presidential elections, Marine le Pen has established herself as one of France's most important right-wing politicians, the left-liberal daily The Guardian laments: "Having contradicted the opinion polls and expert predictions - another blatant illustration of the gap between commentators and the reality on the ground - Le Pen proclaimed that she had become the real leader of the right in France, and promised a big role for her party in the country's political future. So this result - the performance of a party that is openly xenophobic, and has campaigned on an anti-immigrant, anti-Islam platform, despite replacing the threatening face of the father with the blonde and smiling one of the daughter - is the current focus of all debate." (24/04/2012)

TagesWoche - Switzerland

Le Pen will back Hollande

In the run-up to the second round, Marine Le Pen will urge her supporters to vote for the Socialist François Hollande, if only for tactical reasons, the online daily Tageswoche surmises: "For her, Hollande and Sarkozy are pretty much the same. She accuses both of being the toadies of EU bureaucrats and the international financial mafia. Secretly, however, within her Front National she will be doing all she can to ensure a victory for the Socialist - if only by calling for 'le changement'. ... As soon as Sarkozy is gone, Le Pen will have five years to unite the French Right under a new name against Hollande and the Left. Then in 2017 she will try again. She'll be 48 years old and already reckons she has good chances of being elected president of France then." (23/04/2012)

POLITICS

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El País - Spain

The Hague endangers European financial policy

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tendered his government's resignation on Monday after the right-wing populist Geert Wilders withdrew his party's support for the minority government. The left-liberal daily El País fears that European consensus in the area of financial policy will be further undermined: "After seven weeks of negotiations Wilders withdrew his vital support for the government in an attack against the 'bureaucrats in Brussels'. In doing so he is trying to cast his party as an opponent of immigration, but not as right-wing in economic terms. ... The solution to this situation is either a broad consensus in parliament that could be proposed by Rutte today - or early elections in June or September that would lead to lengthy coalition talks. This would mean that the strict Netherlands would delay its ratification of the European rescue fund and the fiscal compact and inject even more uncertainty into an already highly uncertain situation in Europe." (24/04/2012)

De Standaard - Belgium

The Netherlands no longer a model in Europe

After the Dutch governing coalition formed by the conservative-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democrats (CDA) tendered its resignation to the Dutch Queen on Monday, rating agency Moody's warned that the country's credit status could be downgraded. The liberal daily De Standaard bemoans the decline of the political culture in this once exemplary neighbouring country: "Within the traditional parties of the middle, there is a frightening lack of leading figures who are able and willing to make clear to the population where the right balance lies between austerity and boosting growth, giving it prospects for the future and hope. The [right-wing populist] PVV and the [socialist] SP will profit from this. ... The Netherlands, once a model country, has lost the sense of its status in Europe and the world. This is bad news for the EU. As one of the four Eurozone countries with the top AAA credit rating, the Netherlands is too important to become the umpteenth problem country." (24/04/2012)

Voxpublica - Romania

Romanian opposition attacks government

The Romanian opposition alliance USL on Monday proposed a motion of no confidence in parliament aimed at toppling the government led by Mahai Ungureanu and his liberal PDL party. This attack against the ruling party could well be successful, writes the blog portal Voxpublica: "The recent defections from the PDL have given the opposition fresh impetus. ... And things will get very interesting over the next few days. Because this motion of no confidence is not really about bringing down the government. Even if the motion proves successful the opposition couldn't provide a sound alternative. No, this is all about wooing away as many MPs and mayors as possible from the ruling party. And right now the party defectors also have good bargaining chips: their votes when the vote takes place. But they only have them until Friday. After that they can still defect to the opposition, but they have nothing more to offer." (24/04/2012)

Svobodata - Bulgaria

Set limits for Bulgarian secret services

Former Bulgarian president Georgi Parvanov has been accused of having instructed the NRS secret service and the national intelligence service NSO to gather salacious information about the private lives of politicians and members of government. Edvin Sugarev calls in his blog Svobodata for the two authorities to be subjected to radical reform: "Such intrigues with secret services would cause a huge scandal in any civilised country. On the one hand because the head of state has rudely violated the law and the constitution and on the other because his 'assignments' are giving the secret services a bad name. ... The ex-president is doubtless not the first and not the only one to have had such dealings with the secret services. On the contrary, this appears to have been standard practice. So the time has come to subject the tasks of the NRS and NSO to strict supervision, as the new president has announced. It's also time to free the secret services from their Stasi connections and their ties to organised crime." (23/04/2012)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Old parties helpless against Pirates

The Pirate Party in Germany has been accused of not distancing itself properly from right-wing ideologies. Only recently Martin Delius, leader of the Pirate faction in the Berlin city-state government, compared the meteoric rise of his party with that of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazis). This may give the established parties serious ammunition against the Pirates, writes the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but they should concentrate on keeping the discussion objective: "The party is wading through a 'brown [Nazi] swamp', the opponents complain, adding that it doesn't know how to deal with the 'far-right' and can't explain its ties to right-wing extremism. Even if the Berlin Pirate Martin Delius goes through the whole ritual of apologising for all the 'absolute nonsense and rubbish' he said - this won't help him or his party. It has been put in a corner where everyone knows it doesn't belong, but they also know that it's the place you put those you want to get rid of. ... You don't need tricks to get the better of the Pirate Party, the parties should be able to explain the point of laws, rules, rituals and representation. They've obviously forgotten how to do that."   (24/04/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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Sme - Slovakia

Peter Morvay on the rise of populism in Europe

The recent elections in several European countries show that populism is rapidly gaining ground, commentator Peter Morvay writes in the liberal daily Sme, and analyses the latest results: "Taken together, the far right and far left managed to secure a third of the votes in the first round of the French presidential elections. Now they are forcing Hollande and Sarkozy to address their issues. One of the far-left organisers of last weekend's protests in Prague said he felt inspired by the French Left Front candidate Mélenchon. Opposing the growing left-wing populist block are quarrelling centre-right coalitions with nothing better to offer than reforms and budget discipline. That makes them less popular, all the more so when they're corrupt. In Slovakia such a coalition has just dissolved, and things don't look good for the one in the Czech Republic. ... The government is tottering in the Netherlands because Geert Wilders refused to go along with cuts that run counter to his populism. That will stand him well in the coming elections. But neither the French, the Czech nor the Dutch populists could solve the crisis even if they did rise to power. On the contrary, they'll only make matters worse. Sad times lie ahead for Europe." (24/04/2012)

ECONOMY

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La Stampa - Italy

The end of Germany's financial dominance is nigh

The potential change of government in France, the government crisis in the Netherlands and the disappointing economic data for the Eurozone caused share prices to dip by an average of three percent on Monday, with French and Dutch bonds increasingly coming under pressure. Germany's financial policy dictatorship is coming to an end, writes the liberal daily La Stampa: "The true loser [of the first round of the French presidential elections] is Angela Merkel, who gave outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy her full-hearted support. With her - perhaps hypothetical - goal of budget stability only attainable through great sacrifice, Merkel symbolises orthodox financial management. But financial as well as socio-political developments are moving in the opposite direction, towards less stability. The Merkel formula that presents austerity measures as the only cure no longer seems sustainable. The predominance of her criteria is clearly being called into question, without however anyone knowing what could replace them in order to save the positive effects that globalisation has had in addition to the many negative ones." (24/04/2012)

Die Presse - Austria

Cutting gas supplies for Israel just a diversion

Egypt's state-owned gas company EGAS announced on Sunday that it is terminating its agreement to supply Israel with natural gas. The decision has been greeted enthusiastically by the Egyptians, but the country needs to focus on its own problems, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse warns: "Many who protested against Mubarak suspected that the gas agreement with Israel was a front for a dirty deal - aimed at filling the private coffers of a few prominent regime figures and working to the disadvantage of the Egyptian state. ... Many Egyptians are satisfied to see that the gas deal with Israel has collapsed. If there were irregularities regarding the deal, they need to be clarified. But it makes little sense to try and divert attention from Egypt's problems by hitting out at the Arab man on the street's 'favourite enemy'. The problems are too serious for that." (24/04/2012)

SOCIETY

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Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Estonia wants better relations with Russia

Four years after the riots that broke out in Tallinn as a result of the removal of a Soviet monument known as the "bronze soldier", Estonia is once again discussing its relations with Russia. The liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht takes stock: "Russia's position [as economic partner] is pretty stable. Certainly, the Estonians feel more comfortable when their major trade partners are Finland and Sweden rather than Russia. The Estonian position of a quiet victory has been sustained in as far as good neighbourly relations between the two sides are also a clear priority for Russia. The next few weeks will show how well both sides have learned to avoid conflicts and deal with their differing interpretations of World War II. If the anniversary of Bronze Night [April 27] and May 9 [the Russian anniversary commemorating the end of the war] go by smoothly, there is hope that economic relations will improve." (24/04/2012)

MEDIA

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Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

New logo for Czech television silly

The Czech public television broadcaster Czech Television (ČT) is to get a new logo that costs the equivalent of over three million euros. The conservative daily Lidové noviny finds the plan ridiculous: "Common sense dictates that you don't change a logo - because it stands for tradition and success. And if you do, then the changes should be only superficial and very cautious. Why should Mercedes Benz change its star? Why should Volkswagen tamper with  the VW? Why does Škoda keep its winged arrow? ... The public broadcaster isn't new on the market, it has a 60-year tradition. Its perfectly designed logo survived the collapse of the Czechoslovakian federation without a scratch, with just a minor change from ČST to ČT. ... Does ČT even know how many people will be happy about the new logo? Elderly viewers are used to the old one. And young people are used to the Internet and Facebook." (24/04/2012)

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