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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 05/12/2012

 

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Angela Merkel wins CDU leadership hands down

With 97.94 percent of the vote, Angela Merkel has scored her best result yet in seven party leadership elections since 2000. (© AP/dapd)

 

Just under a year before Germany's parliamentary elections, Angela Merkel has been re-elected as chairwoman of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) with almost 98 percent of the vote. Some commentators see her re-election as a triumph for Germany's crisis policies. Others counter that apart from Merkel, the party has little to offer.

Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland

A triumph for Germany's austerity policy

Angela Merkel fully deserves her re-election as party leader, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino writes: "In the end the facts have won out over prejudice. ... Angela Merkel and her government are no longer in the political crossfire over how they've dealt with the debt crisis. ... True, the crisis isn't over. But if the euro despite everything has survived and there is a glimmer of hope both for the financial markets and the ailing countries, the credit goes to Germany. ... Austerity as a condition for overcoming the crisis and a more solid growth - that is Merkel's line. Yes, she meets with resistance. Nevertheless, slowly but surely she's getting her way in Europe. ... The more EU states that allow themselves to be persuaded that this is the right path to follow, the better it will be for Switzerland." (05/12/2012)

Der Standard - Austria

CDU has nothing but Merkel to offer

If after twelve years of leading Germany's CDU Angela Merkel is still able to stir such enthusiasm it's also because the party has few other shining lights, the left-liberal daily Der Standard stresses: "It's true, unemployment is low in Germany even after years of economic and financial crisis, and the number of jobs covered by social insurance is high. Elections have been fought from worse positions than that. But the enthusiasm that Merkel is inspiring also has a flip side. It drowns out the silence behind the CDU chairwoman and chancellor. Because anyone who takes a closer look will see the problems the party faces. It no longer goes down well in the big cities, it lacks a coherent stance on fighting poverty among the elderly and it's not at all clear how it is supposed to bring about the energy transition. Many people in the party are all too reliant on Merkel's popularity. But that's the dangerous thing about dream women." (05/12/2012)

Die Welt - Germany

More powerful than Adenauer and Kohl

Angela Merkel dominates her party, the Christian Democratic Union, more than any other politician before her, the conservative daily Die Welt writes: "When the CDU talks about Europe it says: Angela Merkel. When the CDU talks about the economy it says: Angela Merkel. When the CDU talks about social justice it says: Angela Merkel. The CDU's entire narrative is about Angela Merkel. None of her ministers come up; none of the state premiers, or even the coalition partner really play a role any more. Nor does the content really seem to matter: this is why the Christian Democrats have been so little affected by the blatant changes of programme in recent years. … Sure, this party also revered Adenauer and Kohl. What had always been a patriarchal understanding of politics has now ripened into a matriarchy. … The Chancellor, who is dictating her instructions to half the continent in the crisis, is more powerful than all her predecessors." (05/12/2012)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Chancellor puts tactics over visions

In her speech at the CDU party conference, Angela Merkel professed her commitment to the current coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) but did not exclude the possibility of an alliance with other parties. This is entirely understandable, the liberal-conservative business paper Il Sole 24 Ore points out: "As always, Merkel preferred the tactical considerations to big visions for the future in her speech. She is aware that the government's current coalition partner, the FDP, is in danger of securing less than five percent of the vote in the general elections in September, thus failing go get into parliament. Therefore she painstakingly avoided adopting a harsh tone against the social democratic SPD or the Greens; after all, she may need them as a coalition partner later on. Everything points to a new edition of the grand coalition with the SPD with which Merkel governed the country from 2005 to 2009." (05/12/2012)

POLITICS

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Público - Portugal

Much points to Assad's regime ending soon

The US announced on Monday that it would intervene in the Syria conflict if head of state Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. This and other factors points to Assad's regime soon ending, according to the liberal daily Público: "While Egypt is experiencing a new revolt the target of which is now [President Muhammad] Mursi, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict threatens to escalate, Syria remains a battlefield. … But there have been decisive new developments regarding the pressure put on the Assad dictatorship. US President Barack Obama has threatened Assad with repercussion should his regime use chemical weapons. Moreover Nato has decided to station missile defence systems on the Turkish-Syrian border to protect Turkey. And finally, but crucially, Russia has indicated its willingness to persuade Assad to give up his power. This combination could - in the short term - usher in the end of the regime. But considering its considerable staying power it is still too early to declare victory. In the meantime the martyrdom of the Syrian people will continue as a painful silence." (05/12/2012)

Žurnal24 online - Slovenia

Street protests pave way for pension reform

The Slovenian parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a new pension reform, among other measures raising the retirement age to 65. The online edition of Žurnal24 sees the compromise as a reaction to the current protests in the country: "The heated mood in society influenced this agreement to no small degree. Because for some time now the protests have been directed against all politicians rather than a specific politician. For this reason, too, the politicians at least had to reach an agreement on one point and show that they can work together, that they can at least push through a reform that improves the situation in the country. … Unfortunately it was apparently necessary for thousands of demonstrators to derail the country before the politicians would talk to each other and unanimously approve the measure." (05/12/2012)

Kristeligt Dagbladet - Denmark

Genocide denial has no place in the EU

The Royal Library in Copenhagen has given Turkey permission to hold in its rooms an alternative exhibition to a show about the genocide of the Armenians which the library itself is presenting at Copenhagen University. The daily Kristelig Dagblad sees the concession as highly embarrassing and questions whether Turkey is fit to join the EU: "The denial of the genocide committed by Turkey should be a key obstacle to the country's accession to the EU. A democratic country must be able to take a critical view of itself and its history. Turkey is incapable of doing this. President Erdogan has said that Muslims don't commit genocide. The Turkish denial of the genocide is a stain on the country and Denmark approving Turkey's EU accession would not be acceptable. The genocide [of the Armenians] was as real as the Holocaust and a serious research institution should not question this." (05/12/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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Nachdenkseiten - Germany

Heiner Flassbeck on Germany's detrimental economy drive

Thanks to high tax revenues, for the first time in five years Germany will have a balanced national budget this year, according to the estimates of the Federal Ministry of Finances. But this is no cause for celebration, warns economist Heiner Flassbeck in the blog Nachdenkseite, noting that the euphoria only proves that Germany lacks a real economic policy concept "that could be compatible with a monetary union. Now all three major sectors in Germany, private households, companies and the state, are economising. Bravo! The other countries assume the role of debtors, and therefore of those who ensure that Germany's savings don't lead to a collapse of the German economy due to lack of demand. According to all the prognoses, next year and in the years that follow we can expect this 'division of labour' to continue. … Because of the individualist economic thinking prevalent in politics and the power of the creditor in the crisis it won't be easy to adopt a new approach. The general tendency to ignore the bull in the china shop and focus on glueing together the broken cups is a complicating factor here. Therefore what is needed is a major political effort on the part of all the debtor states to turn around the upside-down strategy for fighting the crisis." (05/12/2012)

Expansión - Spain

Federico Steinberg believes in the success of a German Europe

Once it overcomes the debt crisis the Eurozone could become successful thanks to the changes enforced by Germany, economist Frederico Steinberg writes hopefully in the conservative business paper Expansión: "If everything goes according to the plan of the Berlin-Frankfurt axis, the Eurozone will flourish thanks to a banking union, limited fiscal union and some form of economic and political union. But it will be a very German economic bloc: export-oriented, sceptical regarding Anglo-Saxon liberalism and likely reluctant to assume an international leadership role. … This transformation is based on the hegemonic dominance of the Germans, who since the debt crisis began have taken the reins of Europe in their hands and are forcing all the peripheral economies of the Eurozone (including France) into Germanisation as a condition for providing the necessary financial solidarity. … If this process is concluded successfully - that is, if we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel before the people turn their backs on the European project and elect anti-European parties - the Eurozone will see its power and influence in the global economy increase considerably." (05/12/2012)

SOCIETY

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Avgi - Greece

Poverty and neo-liberalism threaten Europe

Almost one in four EU citizens faces the threat of poverty or social marginalisation, according to Eurostat figures released on Monday. The left-wing daily Avgi warns of the consequences of neo-liberal politics: "The figures conceal thousands of human tragedies and a social or even humanitarian disaster. Unemployment, households without a single working person in a job, helpless old people without medication or access to a reliable healthcare system, minimum wages, youths without a future, … thousands of families who can't pay their heating and electricity bills, undernourished people and above all children. … This Europe is being driven by aggressive capital and tolerated by political forces that have subscribed to the neo-liberal austerity policy. This is not the future of general prosperity the Europeans had dreamed of after the two world wars. And soon it could turn out that because of uncontrolled nationalism not even the future peace of Europe is guaranteed." (04/12/2012)

Reflex - Czech Republic

Czechs should finally quit moaning

According to a current study by Eurostat, the Czech Republic is the European country least affected by poverty. Only 15 percent of the population falls under the poverty line. The Czechs will refuse to believe that, the online edition of the weekly newspaper Reflex jests, because there's nothing they like better than a good gripe: "Excuse me, is this the Czech Republic we're talking about? The country where the unions scream that the government is stripping us of everything we have? The country where hundreds of people will soon end their days on the street because the hospitals are being closed down? The country where everyone is broke and yet there's never a single parking spot in front of the supermarkets? Where there's nowhere we can voice our opinions? (Of course we have elections - but who can be bothered to vote?) ... Of course we're not going to compare ourselves with the less well-off Slovaks. Because after all we're Czechs, superior and more sophisticated. But wouldn't it be fantastic if we could also be a bit more satisfied and stop moaning all the time?" (05/12/2012)

hvg - Hungary

End of the world Hungary's only hope

Many people are speculating over the supposed end of the world on December 21, 2012, based on the idea that the Mayan calender ends on this day. An Apocalypse is the best thing that could happen to Hungarian politics, writes journalist Miklós Stemler in the online edition of the left-liberal weekly newspaper Heti Világgazdaság: "As our country goes to the dogs under the current government, the so-called opposition is doing what it must do: indulging in brainless anti-Semitic tirades, dwelling on stupidities and descending into a maelstrom of hysteria. ... For that reason it doesn't seem at all a wise solution to replace the dimwitted policies of the right-wing conservative governing party Fidesz with the hyper-hysterical policies of the left-liberal opposition. ... Luckily we won't have to wait that long for our fate to take a turn for the better. Because the end of the world is just around the corner. Given the current state of affairs in Hungary, nothing better could happen to us. Because we still believe in a hereafter without Viktor Orbán." (03/12/2012)

MEDIA

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e-vestnik - Bulgaria

Obama's praise meaningless in Bulgaria too

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov visited the White House in Washington for the first time on Monday. Most Bulgarian media reported afterwards that Borisov was highly praised by US President Barack Obama. But there's no need to get carried away about this, the online portal E-vestnik writes: "Borisov and his media claque are as delighted as country bumpkins at the praise from Washington. However the only thing that was clear after Borisov's visit to the White House is that the US wants something from Bulgaria. History shows that US politicians have supported dictators and praised heads of state who later wound up in jail. What counts for the US is first and foremost its own interests. That's why when it comes to countries like Bulgaria it usually backs those with the most power to carry out reforms. As soon as another politician takes over in Bulgaria, both the US and Western Europe will turn their backs on Borisov." (05/12/2012)

SPORT

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De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Bring peace to Dutch football pitches

The death of a linesman after he was beaten by three young amateur footballers following a football game on Sunday has shocked the Netherlands. The incident highlights a major social problem, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant warns: "Authority is barely accepted nowadays. In today's culture people are expected to act independently and be self-assertive even when they don't agree with decisions made at a higher level. At a football match it is inevitable that the referee and linesmen will make wrong decisions every now and then. It's part of the game to accept this. However apparently not only the players have a hard time doing this but also those who should be setting a good example like trainers, companions and parents. A discipline offensive must be launched in football. A less heated atmosphere on the sidelines would have a positive influence on the pitch." (05/12/2012)

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