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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 19/06/2014

 

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Felipe takes the Spanish throne

At 46 Felipe is Europe's youngest monarch. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe will become the country's new king today, Thursday. He succeeds his father Juan Carlos, who announced his abdication at the start of June. Commentators expect Felipe VI to spruce up the Spanish monarchy's tattered image and hope he will mediate in the dispute over independence for Catalonia.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

New king leads monarchy into the future

If Felipe VI can advance key political debates in Spain he will show that the monarchy is not at all obsolete, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments: "If in Spain there are now those who expect the new King Felipe VI to renew the country's moral standards they expect too much, because he lacks the authority to do so. ... Even though he's not supposed to play an active political role the new king will have to address two pressing issues, either publicly or behind closed doors. First and foremost the Catalonia problem. ... The announced independence referendum in Catalonia won't decide the outcome of this conflict but it will escalate it. Perhaps Felipe VI can initiate a meaningful dialogue in this difficult situation; something the politicians haven't been able to do so far. Furthermore, in his own interest he will have to take a stance on the future of the monarchy. By supporting the idea of holding a referendum he could defuse the discussion and bring about a workable decision. If he can contribute to a solution on these two issues people will say: a king is a good thing after all for Spain." (19/06/2014)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Felipe can mediate in Catalonia

Although the Spanish king has hardly any political power he can have considerable influence on the political scene, the conservative daily Lidové noviny notes, adding that Felipe VI faces several tasks in this respect: "Many hope that the new king will restore the flagging trust in the monarchy. The most recent surveys show that two-thirds of the Spaniards want a referendum on the monarchy. Around half however want to retain the monarchy. ... Felipe must make use of his right to help solve the country's problems, for example the increasingly strong separatism in Spain's richest region, Catalonia. The Catalan government has set an independence referendum for early November which the central government and the constitutional court consider illegal. Felipe, who speaks Catalan and knows the region well, could seek a constructive solution to the problem together with the political leaders." (19/06/2014)

eldiario.es - Spain

The people should decide on head of state

In a democracy it should be the people who decide who becomes head of state, several dozen Spanish artists contend. In a manifesto published in the left-leaning online daily eldiario.es they call for a referendum on the form the Spanish state should take: "70 percent of our country's population was not allowed to have its say in the vote on the constitution in 1978. Therefore we demand that the people, with whom the sovereignty rests, have their say and decide in a referendum whether they want a monarchy or a republic, a monarchy or a democracy. We call for the start of a comprehensive constitutional reform that ensures that all institutions are elected by the people. We in the cultural world, like millions of other citizens, ask ourselves an obvious question: if one head of state is replaced by another, why can't we citizens decide who occupies that post?" (19/06/2014)

De Standaard - Belgium

Tips for the monarch

Royals watcher Jo De Poorter offers Spain's new King Felipe a few tips in the liberal daily De Standaard, and hopes the new Belgian monarch will also take them to heart: "Know what really moves your subjects. Or have someone tell you in no uncertain terms. ... To speak the language of the people you must have a feeling for what the delicate issues are. King Felipe already speaks excellent Catalan. ... Show strong leadership through your deeds, and not your words. Recognise that the world is changing. We should no longer shoot elephants for our own pleasure, and even girls can make perfect heads of state. ... Do your job, don't answer a calling. Successful monarchs show that leading a country can be a career just like dentistry, law or computer programming: something anyone can learn, practice, and excel in. Learn from the biography of Beatrix of Oranje-Nassau. She was the perfect professional princess." (19/06/2014)

POLITICS

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Falter - Austria

Iraq is biggest US defeat since Vietnam

US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday night promised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki more support against the advancing terrorist militia Isil. The Sunni fundamentalists have inflicted the worst defeat on the US in recent decades, Ramond Löw, Brussels correspondent of public broadcaster ORF, comments in the left-liberal weekly paper Falter: "Mosul is the worst disaster for the US since the taking of Saigon by the Viet Cong in 1975. ... With an open war raging between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, everything the US tried to achieve with the invasion of 2003 has come to nothing. In retrospect, the initial victory against the Baath regime seems completely futile. At least under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was free of al-Qaeda. Despite huge costs and tens of thousands of casualties, the country has become the deployment zone of the most dangerous terrorists." (18/06/2014)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

Kurds benefit from most recent Iraq crisis

The Iraqi government officially asked the US on Wednesday to help it fight the Isil militia with air strikes. Now that the Iraqi army has fled northern Iraq the Kurds' dream of their own state could finally become reality, the conservative Daily Telegraph comments: "For decades, the Kurds had to accept whatever mercies might be offered by the all-powerful rulers in Baghdad - and in Saddam's time, there were no mercies and only thunderbolts. Now, they are strong enough to carve out their own state within the borders of northern Iraq, taking the oil assets and cities that will make it viable. When this crisis finally passes, it look as if the Kurds of Iraq will be the big winners." (18/06/2014)

Le Télégramme - France

Valls must not give in

The French Court of Auditors warned on Tuesday in a report that France may fall short of its 2014 deficit target of 3.8 percent by 0.2 percentage points. Doubts focus particularly on the success of the government's austerity reforms. The regional paper Le Télégramme explains how Prime Minister Manuel Valls can rebuild trust in the government: "Right when Manuel Valls is defending his budget project against critics on the left, the low tax revenues resulting from France's weak economic performance are eroding faith in his government. The prime minister is making a show of his resolve and swears he won't give in either to the railway employees or the temporary show business workers. Let's hope not! Because if he's incapable of pushing through either of these mini-reforms how can anyone believe he'll be more successful with the real reforms?" (18/06/2014)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey

Turkish opposition betrays secular ideals

The selection by the two major Turkish opposition parties CHP and MHP of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as their joint presidential candidate has annoyed some members of the Kemalist CHP. İhsanoğlu does not represent the party's values, columnist Ali Sirmen concurs in the Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet: "They have chosen İhsanoğlu, the former chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to run against the Islamist dictator Tayyip Erdoğan. His personality does not encompass a secular and democratic alternative. ... I don't mean to support the silly argument that a religious person can't be secular. ... But let's be honest: who can seriously claim that İhsanoğlu's main feature is that he is a supporter of secularism?" (19/06/2014)

REFLECTIONS

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Spiegel Online - Germany

Sascha Lobo praises prominent journalist's debate culture

One of Germany's most influential journalists, the co-editor of the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Frank Schirrmacher died last week. The blogger and columnist Sascha Lobo stresses the influence of Schirrmacher's debate culture on the digital world on news portal Spiegel Online: "The public's most powerful instrument is debate. From Frank Schirrmacher we were able to learn how this instrument works. We still can. His great achievement was staging socially effective debates. ... Schirrmacher's early enthusiasm for the social media, in particular blogs, was no coincidence. Because every person who voices opinions publicly, whether through digital or analogue channels, contributes to the relevance and therefore the effectiveness of a public debate. A phrase uttered in a cafeteria seems irrelevant but millions of conversations in hundreds of thousands of cafeterias can become a political force. ... Schirrmacher proved that political effectiveness requires a debate that generates many and diverse reactions." (18/06/2014)

ECONOMY

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

National bank increasingly dependent on politics

The Polish government decided on Tuesday that in future the National Bank of Poland (NBP) will be able to buy and sell Polish government bonds, giving the central bank a further instrument for stimulating the economy. But the measure will also jeopardise the bank's political independence, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza warns: "Will the government now do less and less because it knows that in a worst case scenario it can always go to the NBP for help? ... The financial crisis has shown how difficult it can be to foretell events. That's also why clearly defined criteria cannot be set for when the bank has the right to intervene. Only a competent NBP and a specialised monetary council [which sets the bank's interest rates, among other things] can guarantee that we don't shoot ourselves in the foot here." (19/06/2014)

Politiken - Denmark

Danish government backpedals on energy

Denmark's social democratic government has come to an agreement with the liberals over a new growth package foreseeing among other measures lower charges on energy consumption for companies. According to the plan, businesses will pay 1.75 billion euros less than anticipated over the next five years. For the left-liberal daily Politiken, the government has lost sight of its climate goals: "Voters could have expected something like this from a conservative government that prefers mass livestock farming to wind turbines. But not from a social democratic one, which had made climate issues a heartfelt matter. Now, however this very government is planning to raise taxes and charges on cigarillos to save the economy a few minor expenses. No doubt our planet will survive the fact that the government has agreed with the liberals to postpone the construction of Denmark's biggest wind farm by a few years. But what counts here is the signal this growth package sends." (19/06/2014)

SOCIETY

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Voxpublica - Romania

Romanians right to be afraid in Europe

A 16-year-old Roma boy was found unconscious in a Paris suburb on Friday and is now in a state of coma. The results of the investigation so far indicate that he was brutally attacked by residents who took the law into their own hands after they caught him stealing. This incident could lead to copycat crimes, journalist Stelian Negrea fears on blog portal Voxpublica: "The case of the Roma boy painfully highlights once more how badly the Romanians are treated in the civilised West. ... The rise of extremism in Europe reached its apex with the victory of the extremist parties in the European elections. Cases like this can trigger a wave of racism and xenophobia across Europe and the Romanian Roma, as well as Romanian society, would be the perfect victims. The former are accused of stealing, the latter of 'stealing' jobs or 'illegally' applying for social benefits to which only Western Europeans are entitled." (19/06/2014)

Phileleftheros - Cyprus

Cyprus lets its poor drown in misery

The Cypriot government wants to introduce basic security benefits of 480 euros a month for the country's poor. The liberal daily Phileleftheros wonders how people are supposed to survive on that amount: "Let's take the example of a 40-year-old unemployed woman who doesn't own her own home and has to pay rent. She finds a pitiful flat for 200 euros monthly. Then she has to pay 80 euros for electricity and ancillary costs. That leaves her 200 euros for food and medication if she gets sick. She can hardly enjoy a social life on that. And a car is definitely out. ... So what's the problem? The question is whether we're supposed to live or just survive? Isolated in our homes; alone with our misery. And on top of that we have to try and confirm the studies of diverse technocrats who live good, prosperous lives and clearly have no idea what it's like to live on 480 euros a month." (18/06/2014)

MEDIA

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Népszabadság - Hungary

Poland's bugging affair shows media's decline

In Poland tape recordings of private conversation published on Saturday by the magazine Wprost have put the government in a difficult situation. For the left-liberal daily Népszabadság the bugging affair is a also a clear example of how the quality media are starting to ape the tabloids: "The people who sparked the whole affair have used a typical tabloid technique. ... The dumbed-down public responds much more to vulgar conversations and saucy details than to analyses or careful assessments of consequences. The quality press and high-brow television programmes have disappeared from the media landscape. ... The crude style that is typical of the tabloids and yellow press now has politics and also political reporting firmly in its grip." (18/06/2014)

SPORT

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La Stampa - Italy

Spain fails with old warriors

After winning three international football titles in a row World Cup champion Spain dropped out of the 2014 Fifa World Cup on Wednesday after losing 0-2 against Chile. You can't afford to rest on your laurels, the liberal daily La Stampa taunts: "Adiós Espana. ... On the very same day on which the Spanish king abdicated, and at the Maracanã temple of all places, world champion Spain failed conclusively. An era has ended, a generation of artists has fallen. ... The poor manager of the national team, Vicente del Bosque, changed players. But like many of his predecessors, starting with the great Bearzon in Mexico, he got caught up in gratitude and became too timid. ... Del Bosque should have made sure he had the Spanish champions of the European Under-21 Championship as reserves, so he didn't have more than one old lame duck per position. No doubt people would have thought he was crazy. But at least he might have outlived his king." (19/06/2014)

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