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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 16/09/2013



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Absolute majority for Bavaria's CSU

Bavarian Premier Seehofer regained an absolute majority in the state after five years. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) attained an absolute majority in regional elections in the German state of Bavaria on Sunday. Its coalition partner the FDP, by contrast, failed to clear the five-percent hurdle needed to enter parliament. Commentators see the results as portending well for Chancellor Angela Merkel in the elections to the Bundestag this coming Sunday, but predict an end to the conservative-liberal coalition at the federal level as well.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Sister party's success helps Merkel

The fact that the Christian Social Union (CSU)  has won back its absolute majority in Bavaria has given its leader Horst Seehofer a boost but the main beneficiary will be its sister party, the Christian Democratic Party, writes the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung, noting that Seehofer's "increased self-confidence will not go unnoticed by the chancellor. Merkel can cope with this because a week before the general elections, the success of the sister party demonstrates that the Union still knows how to win. The CDU recently had to deal with a series of defeats in state elections, and there were already rumours that despite her good poll ratings Merkel wouldn't live up to expectations. This danger has receded considerably. If the [CDU/CSU] Union wants to achieve a good result at the national level, the CSU needs to win 50 percent of the vote in Bavaria. After its robust performance on Sunday it looks like the CSU will do its bit in contributing towards Merkel's success in a week's time." (16/09/2013)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

CDU loses its Liberal partners

Despite the success of its sister party the CSU in Bavaria, the prospects for Angela Merkel's CDU in the German elections this Sunday are none too bright, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera concludes: "The uncertainties pertain above all to the renewed crisis of the Liberals, who fell short of the five-percent hurdle [to get into the parliament] in Bavaria. This defeat in the state election could lead to a tactical vote in favour of the junior partner in the current government coalition. But that's a risky game. The 'blood transfusion' may not be enough to keep the patient alive. ... The only party that registered an increase in votes - albeit a small one - was the Social Democrats. They could become the chancellor's only potential partner for a coalition government. According to election winner Horst Seehofer, Bavaria has put the ball on the penalty spot for the winning goal. But from this distance the ball could still miss its target." (16/09/2013)

El País - Spain

Bad news for Merkel's coalition partner

The results of the state parliament elections in Bavaria are a clear indication of how Germany's general election will pan out, the left-liberal daily El País believes: "Three phenomena in this election can be extrapolated to the Bundestag election. The main one is the absolute majority for the Christian Democrats that allows the CSU to rule alone, without the support of the liberal FDP. This victory for the Conservatives will no doubt be repeated next Sunday, but will be smaller, making a coalition necessary. ... The modest improvement in the Social Democrats' poll performance, despite its weak leadership and its declared reluctance to enter a grand coalition with the Christian Democrats, speaks in favour of this scenario. Then there's the devastating results of the Liberals, who will no longer even be represented in the Bavarian parliament. Right now it doesn't look like Merkel will get her wish of continuing the coalition with the Liberals." (16/09/2013)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Bavaria an island of the fortunate

The CSU's regaining an absolute majority in the regional elections in Bavaria comes as no surprise to the conservative daily Lidové noviny: "The CSU is and remains a major party to an extent unparalleled in Europe. It did all it could to regain the absolute majority it lost five years ago. It even borrowed from the programmes of the Green Party and the Social Democrats. Moreover, Bavaria can boast the best schools in Germany, low unemployment and a strong industry. As a successful German state, it must support the weaker states, most of which are ruled by the left. On the one hand the Bavarian voters are annoyed at this redistribution of wealth. But on the other hand they also see their state's success as proof that they're doing things right. Bavaria is in Germany what Germany is in Europe: an island of the fortunate." (16/09/2013)


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Sme - Slovakia

Russia must put Syria under pressure

The US and Russia negotiated an agreement for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons in Geneva on the weekend. The plan is as good as it is ambitious, the liberal daily Sme writes. "There's applause from all sides and it would be well deserved if all the parties involved were to set about putting them into practice with good intentions. ... Syria would not immediately become a safe country. But it could take a first step in this direction. If afterwards the Russians could persuade Assad and the Americans the rebels to sit down at a table and talk, that would be a hundred times more sensible than fighting each other. ... The question is whether all the chemical weapons in an entire country can be brought under control. There are strong doubts. But if the Kremlin is serious about putting pressure on Assad, the agreement is not just sensible but could also achieve results. But that little word 'if' is of crucial importance here." (16/09/2013)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Chemical weapons agreement strengthens Assad

The agreement on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons won't help stop the civil war, the conservative daily The Financial Times writes: "While this is a positive development, it is right to be sceptical of success. ... A danger is that this agreement may ultimately entrench Mr Assad's position inside Syria. The risk for the US is that it might appear to be saying that dealing with Syria's chemical weapons is of paramount importance - and that while there is progress on that front, Mr Assad can go on butchering his people. The US and Russia must therefore intensify calls for a political settlement of the civil war." (15/09/2013)

Libération - France

Hollande doesn't convince sceptics

In a televised interview aired on Sunday evening, French President François Hollande spoke out on the developments in Syria and the economic situation in France. The left-liberal daily Libération says Hollande didn't cut the mustard on the home front: "The method was clear. First to show that France was right to envisage - with Washington - military strikes against the regime in Damascus, in answer to Bashar al-Assad's abominable use of chemical weapons. And then to assure listeners that without this mutual resolve, a plan for dismantling Syria's chemical weapons would never have seen the light of day. Nevertheless his heavy-handed pedagogical tone stripped his arguments of some of their force. But as convincing as he was on foreign policy, Hollande lacked the momentum to set the course for economic revival or reassure those who remain sceptical." (16/09/2013)

Duma - Bulgaria

Protests in Bulgaria losing steam - hopefully

The anti-government protests that began in June in Bulgaria are now coming to an end, the pro-government daily Duma writes: "The protesters don't want genuine dialogue. They haven't come up with any solutions for the problems tormenting our society or said what will happen if the cabinet resigns. The nameless protesters wanted everything but didn't give anything. They wanted a democracy tailored to their own ideas. They wanted the destruction of authorities and institutions and ignored the citizens who elected the government. They've done a lot of shouting and organised lots of events, but now they're running out of steam. ... The summer is over and it will be more difficult to get people onto the streets. With the first autumn leaves falling from the trees, the protests too are coming to an end." (16/09/2013)


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Proto Thema - Greece

Themos Anastasiadis on Merkel's role as Miss Violence

The Greek director Alexandros Avranas has won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his entry Miss Violence - a film about domestic violence. In the weekly Proto Thema publisher Themos Anastasiadis draws a parallel with the effects of the austerity policy imposed by the creditors and describes Angela Merkel as Miss Violence: "What the Germans have done to us goes beyond all the sick scenarios in the film. ... In the TV debate between Merkel and Steinbrück the chancellor's obsession was obvious: ECONOMISE, ECONOMISE, ECONOMISE. It's a hysterical conviction that salary cuts and the confiscation of private property can contribute to recovery and development. I don't know where Merkel gets the idea that this strategy can work. In Greece it certainly won't. The German Miss Violence's strategy is leading to the same result with which the film begins: the one who is least to blame commits suicide - in other words, the Greeks." (16/09/2013)


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Tvnet - Latvia

Beer brewing in Latvia must be worthwhile again

Latvia's largest and oldest brewery, Aldaris, wants to shift part of its production abroad, it was announced last week. The government must be quick to respond, the internet portal Tvnet urges: "There's a problem with the beer market in Latvia. Beer is cheaper in stores than milk or water. Latvians can purchase a two litre plastic bottle for 1.40 euro. Does this drink have anything to do with beer at all, or is it perhaps damaging to people's health? ... Aldaris belongs to the Carlsberg group, which also owns breweries in other countries. By the looks of it, it's cheaper to brew beer for the Latvian market abroad. For that reason our government must ask itself how it can keep international companies here in Latvia. Because if they remain it means higher tax revenues, more jobs, lower unemployment and fewer emigrants." (13/09/2013)

The Irish Times - Ireland

Ireland must offer more than low taxes

Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg must answer accusations that they have bilateral tax agreements with multinationals before the European Commission, a spokesperson of the Competition Commissioner confirmed on Thursday. The government in Dublin should take this as an opportunity to rethink its industrial strategy, the left-liberal daily The Irish Times urges: "The commission's preliminary inquiry may lead to a more formal investigation. But either way, and given the mounting global pressure for action against large-scale tax avoidance, whereby multinational companies minimise their corporate tax bill, the Government needs to recognise the major change in public attitudes. And that may well require a major reassessment of industrial strategy, with its excessive reliance on a low tax rate as the sweetener to attract foreign direct investment." (15/09/2013)


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Ziare - Romania

Romanians should also protest at corruption

More than 15,000 people demonstrated in Bucharest alone on Sunday against a gold mine in the Transylvanian community of Roşia Montană. Parliament still has to vote on the project. The news portal Ziare wishes just as many people would protest against corruption in the country. "Everyone knows how alarming the situation is in Romania. Officially a billion lei [266 million euros] were embezzled [in 2011], by granting contracts to political cronies or wasting money on the most inane stupidities. This is the figure given in the report put out by the Romanian Court of Auditors. But the truth is even more ugly, because the staff at the Court of Auditors are loyal to the people who gave them their jobs, and too weak to uncover embezzlement everywhere it occurs. Mass protests could change that. ... They're the only way to break the parties' monopoly in the 'system'. Because these people would never change their corrupt, politicised, self-interested ways on their own initiative." (16/09/2013)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Femen reaffirms male perspective

After a documentary revealed that the topless activists of Femen have been led for years by an authoritarian man, a Belgian section split off from the feminist group last week. Femen confirmed the predominance of the male perspective - unlike the performance artist Valie Export for instance, the left-leaning daily taz concludes: "Export stood in a pedestrian zone in 1968, her naked breasts covered only by a cardboard box that opened to the front. She invited all male passers-by to fondle her breasts. ... The Femen actions have started to lack the momentum that turned the actors into directors and the public into the subject of the discussion. The activists came across instead as attractive, aggressive and frequently as dumb; they reaffirmed a cliché about women rather than criticising it. And they acted like they were the first group of women to campaign against prostitution. Even this bare-breasted obliviousness to history follows a standardised, media-propagated, patriarchal logic." (16/09/2013)

Vasárnapi Hírek - Hungary

Hungarian Church teaching homophobia

Since the start of September, religious or ethical education is compulsory in Hungary. But the country's Catholic Church is using religion classes to stigmatise gays and lesbians, the left-liberal Sunday paper Vasárnapi Hírek writes: "One Roman Catholic religion textbook even goes as far as calling homosexuality a deadly sin. This is scandalous and unforgivable, even if the Catholic Church quickly back-paddles. Basically it has no other choice, with Pope Frances as the pontiff of the global Catholic Church making groundbreaking gestures towards homosexuals almost every week. It would be good if the Hungarian clergy took the pope's words more to heart. Because by the looks of it the Catholic Church in Hungary - and the fanatical education policy-makers in government - want to be more Catholic than the pope." (16/09/2013)

Turun Sanomat - Finland

Visa-free travel with Russia revives economy

Visa-free travel between the EU and Russia would have a positive impact on Finland's tourist industry, according to a study published last week. However the idea that visa requirements will be quickly abolished is an illusion, the liberal daily Turun Sanomat comments: "If the calculations made on the basis of the survey proved to be right, the number of Russian tourist would increase from the current four million to more than seven million per year. ... One of the biggest risks the reform entails is a rise in criminality. ... Finland is in principle in favour of scrapping visa requirements. The study that underlines the economic advantages of such a reform certainly doesn't dampen those expectations. We are already committed to the joint policy of the EU countries that are waiting for negotiations with Russia to begin. Vladimir Putin had hoped that visa-free travel would begin before the Olympic Games in Sochi next year. That is too optimistic. It's more realistic that it will start in 2018." (16/09/2013)

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