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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 09/04/2013

 

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The Iron Lady is dead

Thatcher was British prime minister from 1979 to 1990. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher died after a stroke on Monday at the age of 87. Some commentators pay tribute to the conservative politician for her unshakeable convictions and her contribution to the fall of the Iron Curtain. Others say her neo-liberal ideals have failed but warn that eurosceptics like Thatcher could prevail in the end.

Salzburger Nachrichten - Austria

Thatcher's remedies no longer work

Opinions were divided about Margaret Thatcher during her time in office but today it's clearer than ever that her neo-liberal policies didn't work, the Christian-liberal daily Salzburger Nachrichten comments: "The withdrawal of the state from its controlling function has led to a painful loss in regulating competence. Since the crash in 2008 we have all suffered the consequences of the unrestrained financial trickery with the City of London as Europe's hub. And England? It's stuck in an extremely persistent economic and financial crisis, and Prime Minister David Cameron is doing what Thatcher did - cutting spending and putting his faith in the free market. But these remedies no longer fit the bill. The omnipotent healing powers of the market are - as we now know - an illusion, and there's little money left to save in the UK. The Maggie Thatcher era is over and done with." (09/04/2013)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Financial world gained most from noble ideals

The Iron Lady wanted to inject new energy into British society, but it was above all the financial world that benefited from her initiatives, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant comments: "Countering the collectivism of the welfare state, Thatcher formulated a different ideal, that of the free individual who makes his own decisions and doesn't want to rely on the state. … However the neo-liberalism she spawned clearly had major disadvantages: a rigid society, sharply rising inequality particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries, ruthless commercialisation and a privatisation programme that wasn't universally successful. Moreover, neo-liberalism quickly moved away from Thatcher's provincial ideals. It was not the ambitious, average man on the street who benefited most but the big companies and above all the financial world. During the credit crunch the financial world did exactly what Thatcher always accused the public sector of doing: living it up at the expense of others." (09/04/2013)

Avvenire - Italy

Thatcher's euroscepticism must not prevail

It would be a bitter irony if in the end it turns out that Margaret Thatcher was right with her anti-European stance, the Catholic daily Avvenire writes: "It's too facile and narrow-minded to hold Margaret Thatcher responsible for the excesses of neo-liberalism that have caused the global crisis. Despite the limitations exposed by the legacy of her convictions, the Iron Lady has gone down in the annals of history, no matter what her opponents and critics may say of her. … Openly anti-European - like all leading British politicians - Thatcher tried to delay Germany's reunification. She proudly rejected the euro and relentlessly dismissed the idea of a European confederation of states. It would be sheer irony if her resolutely anti-European stance turned out to be the more circumspect and wiser for the destiny of the European Union than the apodictic songs of praise of the union's unreserved proponents." (09/04/2013)

Lrytas - Lithuania

Iron Lady raised the Iron Curtain

In the portal lrytas.lt columnist Andrius Užkalnis pays tribute to the former and now deceased British prime minister for her contribution to the collapse of the Soviet Union: "For us, Thatcher always was and always will be a symbol of the Cold War. The Soviet Union was forced to its knees by the allies in the West. Not too soon and not too late, but exactly when the time was right and the circumstances allowed it. ... Thatcher, like most of her peers, never aspired to be overly popular, nor did she ever fight half-heartedly: she knew that the good was on one side and the enemy was on the other and that the enemy had to be defeated. For us, the Cold War was a good and just cause. Because Lithuania was on the side of the victors. And this outcome continues to guarantee our freedom and our progress today." (08/04/2013)

Blog Nick Robinson - United Kingdom

Thatcher polarises even after her death

Even today Margaret Thatcher still has the power to divide British society, the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson comments, and pays his respects to the Iron Lady in his blog: "In an era in which politicians are all too often greeted with indifference, it is easy to forget that Britain was once led by a woman who inspired passion - both love and loathing. Margaret Thatcher's conviction, her resolve, her iron self-belief led many to see her as Britain's post-war saviour - the woman who cured the so-called 'British disease', tamed trade unions and vanquished the Argentine Junta in the South Atlantic. Many others have and will never forgive her for the deep divisions - economic and social - which they believe resulted from policies rooted in her controversial statement that 'there's no such thing as society'. ... Many words will be written and spoken today. Many tributes will be paid. Some will mourn. Others will celebrate. One word though will sum up the leader who died today. Belief." (08/04/2013)

POLITICS

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Ouest France - France

Morals alone won't save Hollande

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced on Monday that in reaction to the fraud scandal triggered by ex-budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, the financial circumstances of all members of government will be made public. This won't be enough to get the country out of its present crisis, the regional newspaper Ouest-France points out: "Eleven months after François Hollande's election victory the country is in a jittery state that requires a return to high moral standards. … Certainly the French want an initiative that results in clean politics. But they also want improvements in their everyday lives. … And the way Brussels and the international creditors see it, Hollande won't get very far with a moral offensive. Nor will it help him to blame others for what has gone wrong while he waits for growth to get the country back on its feet. He can only save himself by acting like the boss - as he did in Mali: resolute, quick to respond and far-sighted." (09/04/2013)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Italy's zombie democracy

In Italy the political stalemate continues. According to the constitution, outgoing President Giorgio Napolitano can't dissolve the elected parliament because it must select his successor. But despite the difficult situation the parliamentarians could still do some work in the meantime, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera complains: "The world is upside-down: a freshly elected parliament that behaves as if it had been dissolved - no sign whatsoever of laws or policy guidelines. Nothing. … By contrast the government, whose time is up, is behaving like a young upstart. … It's a zombie democracy: with a dead man (the Monti government) that won't die and a living one (the 27th legislative period) that refuses to be born. And between the two, the president, the only viable institution, but lacking the necessary power. … The moral of the story is: parliamentarians, get to work! Otherwise you'll be dismissed without notice, and not by this president but by the next one." (09/04/2013)

Sega - Bulgaria

Borisov's absurd comeback show

Bulgaria's ex-prime minister launched the election campaign of his Gerb party with an extravagant show on Sunday. Just six weeks after stepping down due to mass protests he presented the purported successes of his term of office. The daily Sega is astounded: "The goings-on in the sport arena in Sofia were supposed to convey the impression that Gerb is not the same party that the people protested against, driven by poverty and unbearably high electricity and heating costs that paralysed the economy and ruined many small and mid-sized companies for the sake of flushing millions into the coffers of a handful of oligarchs; not the same party that suddenly disappeared when the people wanted to hold it to account. A failed prime minister is now celebrating his political comeback with huge multimedia screens and schmaltzy popular music. What is this? Is he trying to hypnotise us and make us forget everything he did so he can carry on as if nothing had ever happened?" (08/04/2013)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Latvian law to get rid of politicians

In Latvia a new law has been proposed that would oblige local government representatives to resign if they come under legal investigation. The proposed legislation is just a ruse by Edmunds Sprūdžs, Latvian Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development and initiator of the law, to bring down the Mayor of Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs, writes the daily newspaper Neatkarīgā, which is co-owned by Lembergs: "Sprūdžs' party has nothing to lose, but its senior coalition party, the Vienotība party, does. Before supporting this ridiculous law the latter should bear in mind that laws which target specific persons have a tendency to backfire. … Once the party is no longer in power and has lost its control over the [anti-corruption authority] Knab and [news service] Sab, its members may well end up in the dock themselves. Vienotība should scrutinise the minister's proposal very carefully. ... These proposals are not worthy of being discussed in parliament. All they're fit for is basketball training - to see who will get them in the wastepaper basket first." (08/04/2013)

REFLECTIONS

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El Huffington Post - Spain

Kostas Vaxevanis on the economic war in southern Europe

On Sunday, Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis was awarded the Julio Anguita Parrado prize for journalism in Córdoba in southern Spain. In his speech of thanks published in the left-liberal online paper Huffington Post he accuses German banks and businesses of waging an economic war in southern Europe: "Southern Europe is drowning in the crisis while Germany reels in the profits because southern Europe is buying German weapons, German cars and French technology. It was easy to get the loans for this because they were offered by the same  bankers who want to punish southern Europe today. .. We are in living in an economic war. On one side are those who believe that the economy and the banks should control politics and people's lives. On the other side are those who want the opposite, that people's lives should determine the economy. People's lives cannot be held hostage by the markets. We cannot focus on saving numbers while people are dying. Europe is not what Frau Merkel or the skyscrapers in the City of London dream of. Europe is Greek and Spanish culture, Italian music and contemporary French philosophy." (09/04/2013)

Der Tagesspiegel - Germany

For Fabian Leber the Euro crisis has completed German unification

Talk about the differences between the East and West Germans has all but ceased, and it's all thanks to the euro crisis, writes Fabian Leber in the liberal daily Tagesspiegel: "One hardly hears anyone talking about the new federal states any more, 'the wall in people's minds' has disappeared from debate. ... We hardly differentiate between East and West nowadays, the new dividing line is very much between North and South. ... Ten years ago people were still arguing over whether West German-East German economic unity was a mistake. Today when we talk about the problems of an economic union, people think of something very different. ... Unification made the West Germans more frugal. And the East Germans are now seeing that they are more valuable to the citizens in the West than all the Italians and the Greeks put together. Between 80 and 100 billion euros flow into the East every year - a sum which the Mediterranean states can only dream about. Perhaps this is just a huge stroke of luck for East and West Germans alike. Had the Wall collapsed at the same time as the banking and financial crisis occurred, our unification would have looked very different." (09/04/2013)

ECONOMY

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Ta Nea - Greece

Vetoed bank merger saves Greek money

Over the weekend the Greek government called a halt to the merger between the country's two largest banks after the troika voiced concerns that the resulting bank would be too big to save. Now the National Bank of Greece and the Eurobank are to be recapitalised by the end of April and will therefore effectively be put under state control. The liberal daily Ta Nea puts a positive spin on the situation: "Of course the troika's position raises major questions. What will happen to the banks at a critical moment in the battle against the economic crisis? But if you look at the situation calmly and objectively, there are already clear indications that the troika's veto also has positive aspects. Because it will make it possible to recapitalise the two banks separately but securely. In any case the transition period under state control will create absolute security for savers and small shareholders - and this is the top priority at this point!" (09/04/2013)

CULTURE

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Polish criticism of Nazi film unwarranted

The Polish national-conservative portal wPolityce.pl strongly condemned the three-part film "Our mothers, our fathers" aired by German broadcaster ZDF in mid-March. It accused the film's author of attempting to relativise German guilt as a whole, by always referring only to Nazis having caused the Holocaust and never to the German people as a whole. For Bartosz Wieliński, German expert at the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza, the criticism is unwarranted: "It's an interesting theory. The word 'Nazis' appeared often in Winston Churchill's speeches. But everyone knew exactly which nation he was referring to. Seventy years have passed since then and this expression is still inseparable from 'Germany'. When I lived in Germany, I never met anyone who denied that the Germans were responsible for the war and the Holocaust. But wPolityce.pl apparently knows better." (09/04/2013)

SOCIETY

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hvg - Hungary

Separate classes threaten Roma integration

The right-wing conservative government of Viktor Orbán is planning to reintroduce separate lessons for Roma pupils. For the left-liberal weekly Heti Világgazdaság these plans represent a huge step backwards for Roma integration: "In Hungary a clergyman [the former Calvinist pastor and minister for education Zoltán Balog] is today trying to institutionalise 'racial' exclusion by arguing the case for segregation in Hungarian schools. ... The government is intent on putting the necessary legal framework in place to implement it. This not only contravenes the integration principles of the EU, it also reinforces social inequality in Hungary. We can already hear the government's explanation: You will see that it will be better for 'them' when they are taught separately from 'us' at a 'high level'. Utter nonsense. And they know it." (05/04/2013)

MEDIA

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Offshore Leaks better than Wikileaks

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists network, which passed on sensitive data about offshore tax evasion to the press, is committed to the responsible handling of information. The liberal conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung praises its approach: "We can assume in our fully digitised world that despite all efforts to the contrary, data leaks will become more frequent. It is crucially important when this happens that the data be handled responsibly, so that both the sources and the persons or corporations involved are protected. Offshore leaks did indeed take the necessary precautions. ... Sebastian Mondial, who worked as a freelance data journalist on the offshore leaks project, describes it as 'the antithesis of Wikileaks'. 'From the outset, protecting our sources and secrecy was top priority.' Because these data leaks constitute an instrument of political and also economic power which should not end up in the wrong hands." (09/04/2013)

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