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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 21/10/2013



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Hollande in trouble over Leonarda

Leonarda and her family were deported to Kosovo. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


French President François Hollande has come under attack for his reaction to the deportation of Roma schoolgirl Leonarda. Following nationwide protests he gave her the opportunity to return to France, but without her family - an offer the 15-year-old rejected on Saturday. This half-hearted compromise exposes the president's lacking authority and illustrates the crisis in this once proud republic of values, commentators write.

Le Soir - Belgium

Image disaster for the president

The case of Leonarda is yet another example of Hollande's political shortfalls, the liberal daily Le Soir writes: "What a disastrous image for the Elysée! Even before being elected, Hollande never tired of repeating that all his activities would be geared toward the youth. And now the students are demonstrating and demanding the return of the Roma adolescent expelled to Kosovo. ... In fact, François Hollande is at an impasse, with no other choice than to propose this rather absurd solution: to invite Léonarda to come back to France alone, leaving her family behind her. François Hollande already suffered from two major handicaps: insufficient clarity in his actions and a glaring lack of authority. The Leonarda affair will only accentuate these weaknesses." (21/10/2013)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

Not what strong leadership looks like

Hollande and his advisers are acting like complete amateurs, the left-liberal Berliner Zeitung writes: "There will no doubt soon be a couple of vacancies at the Elysée Palace. The ad should read: 'Wanted: Competent advisers'. Because whoever advised the president on the case of Leonarda deserves to be sacked. ... The president, notorious for vacillating, just stood by for days and watched the whole affair spiral out of control. ... And when the head of state finally intervened he proposed a solution that can only go wrong: the return of the 15-year-old without her parents, without her family. A new wave of indignation is the result. The left accuses Hollande of being inhumane, the right says he's making a mockery of the rule of law. Both accusations are understandable. Hollande's attempts to calm the situation with a half-hearted compromise have only aggravated the dispute. This is not what strong leadership looks like. The right-wing populists of the Front National, with their promise to restore peace and order, can rub their hands in gleeful anticipation." (21/10/2013)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

France's humanist spirit is dead

The case of Léonarda illustrates all too well the crisis of values and identity that France is going through, the liberal daily Tages-Anzeiger writes: "François Hollande stresses that the Roma are being treated in accordance with the law. That may be. But France was once something more than a cold-hearted state with inflexible laws and deportation rules. France was once a proud republic of values, a beacon of humanism, an anchor for the displaced. Little is left of this spirit in these times of crisis, widespread insecurity and the unstoppable rise of Marine Le Pen. This demonstrative, stigmatising severity against the small minority of Roma is - with all due respect - pretty pathetic for such a grand republic." (21/10/2013)


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Welt am Sonntag - Germany

Grand coalition would be steamroller

At a party convention held on Sunday, the Social Democrats voted in favour of initiating formal coalition talks with Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. The conservative Welt am Sonntag is anxious at the prospect of the four-fifths majority a grand coalition would produce, and which neither side really wants: "If such a government emerges from the talks, it will be a state steamroller. It will produce an extremely strong state - after all, the statism of the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats' belief (going back almost to the period of imperial rule) that it is the government's duty to provide for a clueless people would come together here. ... Then there's the fact that the two parties would constantly be watching each other distrustfully: After even [its sister party the CSU] came out of its trenches, the Union is eyeing the possibility of an alliance with the Greens for the future. And the Social Democrats are also sizing up their chances of a red-red-green coalition [with the Left Party and the Greens]. ... Both sides would have an eye on abandoning ship right from the outset." (20/10/2013)

Verslo žinios - Lithuania

Lithuania stronger on UN Security Council

The UN General Assembly elected Lithuania and four other states to the UN Security Council last Thursday. As of 2014 Lithuania will be represented as a non-permanent member on the UN's most powerful body for two years. The business paper Verslo žinios stresses the importance of the membership for the country: "Lithuania has been seeking this position for over 15 years. ... For two years Lithuanian representatives will now be active in this global, elite organisation and take part in the most important decisions. The country will not only be heard and seen by its neighbours and the EU member states, it will also draw attention from places where until recently even high-ranking government officials didn't know what Lithuania is or where to find it on a map. This is a major achievement [for Lithuanian diplomacy], comparable with EU and Nato accession or Lithuania's EU Council presidency. And in some respects it's even more important." (21/10/2013)

Die Presse - Austria

Juncker must run for Europe

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker's Christian Social People's Party (CSV) suffered losses in the parliamentary election on Sunday but remains the strongest party in Luxembourg's parliament. Juncker would also be the best candidate for the Conservatives in the European elections 2014, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse writes enthusiastically: "For the first time, leading candidates of the pan-European parties will spearhead the elections. The Social Democrats and Socialists will have current President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz as their lead candidate. Schulz is known for his intelligence, but also for representing the aloofness of the Brussels apparatus. Who will be the lead candidate for the Christian Democrats is still an open question. ... But on Sunday an ideal candidate emerged: Jean-Claude Juncker. No one stands as staunchly for the European project as Luxembourg's prime minister. So far he has rejected the European Commission presidency and the idea of running as a candidate for Brussels and Strasbourg. But a good few of his party colleagues want to convince him to run. Juncker can explain Europe, unite it and push it forward. There are few others who can do this. To be precise: no one." (21/10/2013)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Zeman may regret new elections

One week before the early parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic the opinion polls are for the first time no longer pointing to a shift to the left. Results show that the Social Democrats - widely regarded as the clear favourites - are no longer strong enough to win a majority together with the Communists. This also comes as a hard blow for President Zeman, the conservative daily Lidové noviny writes: "Zeman was the one who pushed the hardest for the elections, and the Social Democrats along with him. Because who else could win, they thought. Now things look very different to what the initiators of the election expected. As memories of the centre-right government under Prime Minister Nečas fade, the feeling of gratitude towards the left that toppled him is also disappearing. The Social Democrats are divided among themselves, and their dull election campaign is only making matters worse. We still don't know who'll get into parliament or who'll be able to form a coalition. But we do know that the whole thing could end very differently to how those who took the greatest delight in these elections thought it would." (21/10/2013)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Socialists fit to take on Fidesz

Hungary's opposition Socialists (the MSZP) launched their campaign for the Hungarian parliamentary elections next spring at their party conference on the weekend in Budapest. They are now in a position to stand up to the right-wing conservative ruling party Fidesz, the left-liberal daily Népszabadság believes: "This is perhaps the first time since the 2010 parliamentary elections, when the Socialists were forced to their knees, that they have rolled up their sleeves and loudly proclaimed: 'We're ready to fight!'. It is not least thanks to the party's leader Attila Mesterházy that the MSZP managed to survive at all. But Mesterházy has also been able to consolidate the party. ... The MSZP has now switched to election campaign mode and revealed its strategy: the party will fight its battle 'on the ground'. If that's what it takes to win it will go out and convince each and every voter of its policies and show them the government's true face. If there is a successful strategy at all, then it's this one." (21/10/2013)


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Corriere della Sera - Italy

Massimo Nava distinguishes between self-determination and populism

The people's desire for self-determination and the defence of national interests must not be carelessly brushed off as populism, writes the Paris correspondent for the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera, Massimo Nava: "Topics that move large sections of the population must not be dismissed with an elitist, intellectual, disdainful definition [like populism]. The calls for security, a voice in national and European issues, a fair tax system, efforts to check the flood of refugees and respect for national traditions and cultures have nothing to do with populism. And neither does defending the people's interests vis-à-vis a European model that has disappointed expectations. The menace of populism grows when governments focus on their power to exclude minorities rather than dialogue. When they fool the people with alleged tax breaks. When they shift responsibility to others and blame Europe for national shortcomings. And when public order becomes the only guideline in a society that is now multi-ethnic." (21/10/2013)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

On African human traffickers and welfare tourists

Africa's problems must be resolved in Africa and not by Europe taking in thousands of immigrants, the liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten writes: "The billions in aid that the European countries have sent to Africa over the years has had tangible results in countries that put their energy into building up the social infrastructure, promoting economic growth and creating jobs. ... On the other hand it hasn't been able to prevent many armed conflicts from breaking out and an alarmingly high number of dictators and despots from causing even more suffering to this hapless continent. ... Nevertheless the solution does not lie in giving illegal immigrants the possibility of living in Europe. Instead the thing to do is make the joint European patrols in the Mediterranean so tight that everyone who comes to Europe as welfare tourists can be caught and sent back. In addition, the work against human traffickers must be continued. No matter how much sympathy one might have with individuals - Africa's problems must be solved in Africa." (29/10/2013)


  » open - Spain

Spain flogs off its workforce

The Spanish share index, the Ibex, took a leap on Friday, closing at 9.999 points. "Spain is experiencing a fantastic moment; the money is pouring in from everywhere," commented the boss of Santander Bank Emilio Botin, ecstatically contemplating imminent recovery. Antón Losada examines the downsides of this development in the online paper's Zona Crítica blog: Botin's remark "produced a few smiles and some indignant comments. Yet he's absolutely right. The money is returning to Spain. It would be dumb not to. And money is neither crazy nor dumb. Having made a huge effort and massive sacrifices we have finally become the big bargain in the global economy. We're a junk shop that's open 24/7. After implementing the labour reform we can now offer one of the world's best educated workforces for next to nothing. Deprived of even the most basic rights that fair wage negotiations can offer, the Spanish worker now has the choice: either work or kick the bucket." (21/10/2013)

The Independent - United Kingdom

JP Morgan gets off lightly

The US bank JP Morgan is having to pay a record fine for its role in the financial crisis. It has agreed with the US Department of Justice to pay 13 billion dollars for its involvement in deals with risky mortgage-backed assets, it was reported on Saturday. That's still not enough, the liberal daily The Independent argues: "The settlement is equivalent to the profits that the bank might expect to generate over two quarters in a normal year, which is substantial, but not as punitive as it looks at first glance. Indeed, given the bank's role in prompting some of the disasters that have struck banks throughout the West since 2008, you could say that it is getting off lightly. … The lesson of 2008 was that if banks grow too vast, they become almost unmanageable as well as arrogant, which was what went wrong at JP Morgan, and explains why such behemoths need to be broken up. ... As the lesson has remained unlearned, history may well be condemned to repeat itself." (20/10/2013)


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Jutarnji list - Croatia

Tito's widow remained true to her husband

Jovanka Broz, the widow of the founder of Yugoslavia Tito, died on Saturday in Belgrade where she had lived neglected and poor for the past three decades. The writer Miljenko Jergović remembers in the liberal daily Jutarnji List how Broz refused to lend her name to any post-communist, nationalist cause since she was last seen at Tito's side in 1977: "The widespread public speculation over Jovanka's fall from grace and the reasons for her disappearance have continued until today. ... She was given the chance to speak, to complain or to take sides in the Yugoslavian wars, which would have given her a pleasant and secure existence worthy of her suffering. ... She always refused, preferring to live like a humble Balkan widow who visits her husband's grave each year on the anniversary of his death, sheds a tear or two, lays down a wreath and goes back home again." (21/10/2013)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Peaceful budget protest inspires hope

Tens of thousands of people protested against new budget cuts at rallies of the trade union federation CGTP on Saturday in Lisbon and Porto. The 2014 budget is a "brutal attack" on the people and must not be passed by parliament, CGTP leader Arménio Carlos said. The demonstrators were not allowed to cross a central bridge in Lisbon on foot but only in buses, nevertheless they remained peaceful, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias writes in praise: "Let's face it, it doesn't happen every day that a column of around 400 buses crosses the 25th of April Bridge [named in commemoration of the Carnation Revolution] in both directions. ... Carlos announced a new protest in front of the parliament buildings for November 1, the day of the first vote on the budget. Now the hope is dawning that President Cavaco Silva will stop the draft budget. ... There were no incidents to speak of at the protest - and that's important. ... The Portuguese have shown that even in times of severe economic crisis they avoid escalation, which would only benefit those who want chaos." (20/10/2013)


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Savon Sanomat - Finland

Finns won't lose their taste for the sauna

The Finns are passionate sauna-goers and shouldn't let anyone spoil their fun, the liberal daily Savon Sanomat writes at the start of the cold season: "There'll always be someone who wants to put restrictions on this national hobby. First it was electric saunas that aroused disapproval as they supposedly use too much energy, making it necessary to build new nuclear power plants. ... And now researchers have warned that when wood burns it releases fine particles into the air that if inhaled can reduce life expectancy by up to nine months. Up to now the rule was: 'If schnapps, cigs and saunas won't help an illness, nothing will.' Not so today. ... Should saunas be banned because they're harmful to people's health and the environment? No. If the Finns and Finland's nature have been able to withstand smoke saunas up to now, they'll continue to do so for the next thousand years as well." (21/10/2013)

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