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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 23/01/2013

 

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Netanyahu wins and loses

Netanyahu's alliance will only have half of the seats in the new Knesset. (© AP/dapd)

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing block Likud Beiteinu obtained the most votes in Israel's general election on Tuesday. However compared to the last vote it suffered considerable losses. Netanyahu has shot himself in the foot by bringing the election forward, commentators say, noting that the new distribution of power in the Knesset also holds little hope for the Middle East peace process."

La Liberté - Switzerland

Israel lacks leaders of stature

While Netanyahu's right-wing alliance Likud Beiteinu looks set to have lost 11 of its 42 seats in the parliamentary elections, the new liberal party Yesh Atid and the new ultra-right-wing party The Jewish Home made considerable gains with 19 and 17 mandates respectively. The regional paper La Liberté fears that courageous decisions will be few and far between in this fragmented party landscape: "On the day after the parliamentary elections in Israel, the political landscape seems even more chaotic and disunited than ever. Netanyahu is a bad tactician who has trapped himself in his own net, left looking like a leader who was only elected because of the lack of better alternatives. The prime minister is now forced to put together a coalition of small parties, and looks more like their hostage than their mentor. These elections confirm the disappearance of any and every 'vision' at the leadership level since the abrupt end of Ariel Scharon's term in office seven years ago. ... Jerusalem has never recovered from the disappearance of its historic leadership figures, people who would be able to induce the country to push ahead with enduring and consequently painful reforms." (23/01/2013)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Netanyahu's strategy backfires

Following the election in Israel, a deadlock is emerging in the Knesset: both Netanyahu's incumbent right-wing alliance Likud Beiteinu and the centre-left camp can reckon with 60 mandates. The prime minister miscalculated the situation, writes the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "Benjamin Netanyahu brought forward the election to ensure he would win. Now he has won, but it looks more like he lost. His role has suddenly been encumbered, because the real protagonists of this political earthquake are not Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist alliance partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but three new leading figures. … The process of 'scrapping', of getting rid of the old cadre of politicians, has not yet begun, but the message from the polling stations leaves little room for doubt. The Likud party has not gained the least advantage from its alliance with Lieberman [and his Israel Beitenu party]. Joining forces doesn't always make you stronger, sometimes it can have a weakening effect." (23/01/2013)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Israeli centre party not for peace either

The new liberal Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party under former TV presenter Yair Lapid came a surprising second in Israel's parliamentary elections. Despite this strong showing for the centre party, the left-leaning daily taz sees no hope for peace negotiations with the Palestinians: "Lapid, who has no foreign policy programme on the Palestinians, Iran or Syria, positions himself slightly to the right. It's no coincidence that he kicked off his election campaign in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Concessions to the Palestinians are not a priority for him, since he prefers to concentrate his efforts as a strong coalition partner on countering the ultra-Orthodox conservatives. ... But Lapid's second place has only apparently slowed the shift to the right in Israel. At the end of the day, the right-wing parties that openly or covertly reject the two-state solution achieved a clear points victory. Neither peace nor an end to the settlement policy is in sight. All we can expect is more settlers moving into the West Bank and settling on Palestinian land." (23/01/2013)

Magyar Narancs - Hungary

Left has nothing to counter Netanyahu with

The political Left in Israel is too weak and too fragmented to pose a real threat to the Right and Prime Minister Netanyahu, journalist Attila Ara-Kovács writes in the left-liberal weekly newspaper Magyar Narancs: "The centre-left party Kadima, which until now has been Netanyahu's biggest adversary, has disintegrated into no less than eight separate factions that prefer fighting each other over combating the Right. ... For many observers, the lack of unity on the Left has to do with the fact that the various splitter groups were ultimately more interested in winning a few seats in parliament than in joining forces to defeat Netanyahu. The Left lacks not only charismatic politicians but also a convincing ideology and a clear political goal." (21/01/2013)

POLITICS

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Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Cameron carelessly risking "Brexit"

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to have his countrymen vote on whether to stay in the European Union or not in a referendum 2017. He presented the corresponding plans in his Europe speech today, Wednesday. Cameron is playing a dangerous game, the liberal-conservative business paper Il Sole 24 Ore notes: "David Cameron says that he has faith in the renegotiation of the EU treaties that are to set out stronger cooperation in the Eurozone. Because this is the moment when London is putting forward its demands for the re-nationalisation of specific powers. … Cameron's strategy entails enormous risks because it is based on the increasingly unlikely assumption that the Eurozone countries will want to make changes to the EU treaties. … So all in all these are pointless exercises in style which - should they fail - could open the door for the much feared (also by David Cameron) 'Brexit'. In this way the psychodrama of a Brexit is playing out more by chance than by genuine conviction, more as the result of lacking expert knowledge than close reflection. And the world is looking on in surprise as the island drifts away." (23/01/2013)

Savon Sanomat - Finland

Paris and Berlin must get their act together

The MPs of the German and French parliaments came together for a joint session in the German Bundestag on Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. But the celebrations couldn't conceal the differences between France and Germany, the liberal daily Savon Sanomat notes, and hopes that for Europe's sake the two countries will work more as a team in future: "All Europe has benefited economically and culturally from the transformation of Germany and France from arch-enemies into long-standing friends. In economic terms Germany has clearly surpassed France, but this has not destroyed the friendship. … Despite the celebratory mood many have nonetheless pointed out that the love between the two giants is showing unnecessary cracks. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande have taken different paths in facing the EU's economic problems, but in the end the Frenchman always gives into the German. How much longer can this go on? Hopefully not all too long, because if the powerful duo doesn't stick together in the long term, the EU will soon start to drift off course." (23/01/2013)

El País - Spain

Criticising Dijsselbloem won't help Spain

In a move aimed at highlighting Spain's lack of representation at EU institutions, the Spanish Minister for Economic Affairs, Luis de Guindos, abstained from voting for Jeroen Dijsselbloem to be appointed as the new leader of the Euro Group on Monday. But this isolated act of protest won't achieve anything, the left-liberal daily El País fears: "The abstention of Spain's economics minister was supposed to sound an alarm in the EU. But it wasn't very effective because the European partners at whom this protest against Spain's lack of representation was directed barely noticed this isolated gesture. .. With its deep recession, its request for an EU bailout to save its financial system and the many doubts still hovering over its immediate economic future, Spain doesn't have the best cards in its hand in the diplomatic game right now. But the quality of the players only becomes truly apparent when they have no trump cards. Therefore the Spanish government would do well now to stop complaining and examine its own mistakes and shortcomings so it can find allies and get out of this situation in Europe." (23/01/2013)

Delo - Slovenia

Without new government Slovenia faces standstill

After the allegations of corruption against Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, his centre-right coalition is on very shaky ground. Following a fruitless meeting with its coalition partners, the Civic List party led by President of the National Assembly Gregor Virant, as well as two smaller parties now want to withdraw from the coalition government. The left-liberal daily Delo predicts that Janša will stay in office, which could bring the country to a complete standstill: " Janez Janša doesn't have to say, promise or do anything now. He can just remain silent, which is precisely what he is doing intensively these days. The less he does in this affair, the more stable his government will be. But it won't be able to work effectively. Perhaps a few reforms on which everyone has already agreed will go through parliament, but then things will get difficult. Until we have a new government, the country will be in a state of paralysis. Political, economic, financial and general paralysis." (23/01/2013)

REFLECTIONS

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Le Quotidien - Luxembourg

Olivier Landini on the imposed EU identity

The EU Commission has designated 2013 the European Year of Citizens in a bid to raise people's awareness of civil rights and European issues. But a European identity can't be decreed from above, journalist Olivier Landini writes in the left-liberal daily Le Quotidien: "One year before the European elections take place, the Commission wants to make the EU attractive to the 500 million citizens, many of whom don't vote. The experts rightly point out that by not voting, the people express their distrust of the institutions and the prevailing democratic deficit. Nevertheless the remedies concocted in Brussels leave much to be desired. There's no point even asking the question of what 'direct participation' of the citizens would look like. Let's just consider the EU's biggest open wound: an executive with a more than questionable democratic legitimacy. And then there's the rather bizarre idea that just because European politicians have decided there is such a thing as EU civic rights, the men and women of Europe will suddenly start feeling like EU citizens. A sense of identity must grow on its own, you can't order it into existence." (22/01/2013)

ECONOMY

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Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Portugal hot on Ireland's heels

Portugal and Ireland have both put in requests for the repayment of their emergency loans from the EU and the IMF to be deferred, as the Irish minister of finances confirmed on Tuesday in Brussels. The liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias praises Lisbon for waiting for the right moment: "In financial terms Portugal is poised to change its image. With the emission of five-year government bonds this Wednesday, the country is to effectively make its comeback on the capital market - six months earlier than planned. As far as its return to the medium- and long-term capital market is concerned, Portugal is hot on Ireland's heels and leaving Greece behind. Buoyed up by this optimism, the government has applied for a deferral in paying back the EU bailout loans. To get the timing of this request right it took advantage of results that show that Portugal has managed to push its budget deficit below five percent. We are doing our homework and therefore we deserve additional aid - this logic is making headway." (23/01/2013)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Latvia not fit for the euro

The Latvian government has announced it will introduce the euro on January 1, 2014, triggering a vigorous discussion. In the national-conservative daily Neatkarīgā economic journalist Juris Paiders argues that his country is not yet ready to introduce the single currency: "When people ask me whether Latvia is ready to join the Eurozone I can only say: no! Why? Because Latvia is used to manipulating its macroeconomic data. … Latvia is just as ready to join as Greece was in 2001. Its society is not ready for this and neither is the economy, even if the ministers claim that the businessmen want to convert to the euro. It would be reasonable for Latvia to join the Eurozone only once its economy is competitive in the common currency zone, not just when the politicians want it to join. ... But if the EU Commission is hell bent on taking a country that is not yet ready into the Eurozone, then good luck to it!" (23/01/2013)

Pravda - Slovakia

Consumers must rid market of tainted goods

Two scandals over food products imported from Poland have come to light in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in recent months. On the one hand, road salt was being sold as table salt, and on the other traces of insecticides were found in chocolate. Nevertheless Polish products continue to find buyers thanks to their low prices. The left-leaning daily Pravda is alarmed: "Poland has become the Holland of Eastern Europe as far as exports of agricultural products go. With its bargain-basement prices it blows the competition out of the water and isn't even hurt by scandals over the poor quality of its products and the sometimes toxic substances they contain. ... That is partly due to another phenomenon: the low self-esteem of Central European consumers compared with those in the older EU member states. This allows producers and traders to supply products that would immediately disqualify them in Germany or Austria. Here at home, such scandals are forgotten after just a couple of weeks. Too bad. Because with the choices they make, consumers should show who's the boss on the market." (23/01/2013)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

High time to expand Heathrow airport

Snow and ice have been causing delays and cancelled flights at London's Heathrow airport since Friday, adding grist to the mill of those calling for Europe's largest airport to be expanded. The liberal daily Financial Times sees the move as long overdue: "Ministers need to make a decision more rapidly than that [2015]. Winter will not wait. In any case, previous investigations have rehearsed the arguments already. It ought not take years. The real reason for delay is to avoid a decision before the next election. Expansion of Heathrow is still the likeliest outcome: the Heathrow infrastructure would be horrifically expensive to replicate. The timescale on the review is, in truth, an act of cowardice designed to allow politicians to dodge the issue at the election. But it comes at a cost to the capital city: London still does not have access to an airport upon which it can rely, come rain or shine." (22/01/2013)

SOCIETY

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NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

Internet not a lawless space

A judge in the Netherlands has banned a man from using social media because he was making avail of them to harass his ex-wife. The Internet is not a lawless zone, the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad comments: "The problem lies with the citizens who make each other's lives difficult with harassment, torments and malicious gossip. Accessible as they are for everyone, the social media are very useful for these activities. … Online harassment can trigger an avalanche and end in tragedy. … Now a judge in Amsterdam has adopted tough measures in a specific case and banned an angry ex-partner from using social media for a year. … Such judgements prove that there is legal protection against aberrant behaviour on the Internet. Whether court rulings can indeed have a positive effect on conflicts between obsessive individuals remains to be seen. The question is whether Internet providers should take preventive measures. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it is not without its dark side and dramas." (23/01/2013)

MEDIA

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Voxpublica - Romania

Ban for scandal station comes too late

The Romanian media supervisory authority CNA on Tuesday withdrew the licence of the scandal broadcaster OTV, run by the politician Dan Diaconescu. Over the last three years the station has refused to pay fines for repeated violations of media regulations. The decision is correct but comes too late, the blog portal Voxpublica writes, because the station's licence would have expired at the end of March in any event: "The CNA closed down the station when nothing was at stake any longer anyway. ... If, however, the new president of the authority wants to turn the CNA into a useful institution, she must deal with the following problem. Both in the afternoon and at prime time, television is increasingly taking on the character of tabloid journalism. In addition, political influence on the media is increasingly aggressive. OTV was just an extreme form of the party television station. But there are plenty of other clear-cut cases where party lobbies are exerting their influence. ... Apart from that we remain unimpressed by the withdrawal of OTV's licence, which came far too late." (23/01/2013)

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