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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 30/10/2014



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Fidesz stands by Internet tax

Tens of thousands of protesters once again took to the streets in Budapest on Tuesday. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Hungary's governing Fidesz party has remained intransigent in the wake of mass protests at the planned introduction of an Internet tax. The tax will not be repealed, a spokesman said. Such arrogance could be the government's downfall, commentators write, viewing the protests as an expression of the dissatisfaction of many Hungarians with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Pravda - Slovakia

The problem is not the Internet but Orbàn

The protests are not just about the Internet; Hungary's future is at stake, the left-leaning daily Pravda writes: "The Hungarians aren't protesting because they don't want Facebook, Skype or their computer games to be taken away. In the kind of authoritarian society towards which Orbán is heading the Internet is an important source for undistorted information from all over the world and an instrument for social mobilisation. Young Hungarians who feel at home on the web have a growing appreciation of this. The battle against the Internet tax is therefore part of the battle for the country's democratic future. ... Will the protests die out if the parliament stops the plans? If so then Hungary will have to fall even further for people to understand that the problem is not a tax but a political clique that is willing to sacrifice democracy and the life of an entire generation. ... Let us hope the EU will stop raising an eyebrow dramatically and start taking action." (30/10/2014)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Hungary's government a victim of its arrogance

After ruling unhindered for years, the Hungarian leader Viktór Orban and his Fidesz party may be caught unawares by the protests and swept from power, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza writes: "Fidesz and Orbán have suffered the same fate of many other parties that had too much power: they have lost contact with reality. ... Fidesz isn't even seeking to engage in dialogue. All it's saying is that the protests have been organised by the opposition, and that the Socialists are playing the key role because it suits their own interests. Meanwhile Fidesz is merely looking impassively at the windowpanes in its party's headquarters that have been broken by the demonstrators. But it would be better off listening to what the protesters really want. ... This Internet tax could be the straw that breaks the camel's back: the start of an avalanche that produces a true political alternative." (30/10/2014)

Heti Válasz - Hungary

Symbol of the frustration of the young

The protest against the Internet tax has become a symbol of a disillusioned generation's rejection of the entire political elite, the conservative weekly Heti Válasz comments: "It looks as if the Internet tax will be the first acid test for the Orbán government. The protest movement against the tax is not just about the fact that Hungarian households with Internet access would have to pay a couple of hundred more forint [or a few euros] each month. That's the least of the problems. The Internet tax has become a symbol of the people's dissatisfaction with government policy and an incompetent opposition. The predominantly 20 to 30-year-old demonstrators want to send the following message: Hungary is not a place where you can live a good life right now." (29/10/2014)


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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

London and Bern not really united on immigration

British Prime Minister David Cameron is considering introducing immigration quotas for EU citizens, according to media reports. For Switzerland, which has already requested a renegotiation of the free movement of persons with the EU, Cameron's move is advantageous only at first glance, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes: "If Cameron is successful in getting other EU states on his side, the disagreements with Switzerland may also be resolved. Bern could have discreetly waited to see how the conflict between London and Brussels developed if the initiators hadn't set a three-year deadline for the mass immigration initiative, thus weakening Switzerland's negotiating position. Now Switzerland is under pressure, and its call for negotiations on the free movement of persons threatens to become a test case for how the EU will deal with the demands from London. This, however, would put Switzerland at a disadvantage, as it would make it even more difficult for the hardliners in the EU Commission and among the EU member states to show a willingness to compromise with Switzerland." (30/10/2014)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Spaniards remain loyal to corrupt politicians

After a series of corruption scandals dozens of politicians, government officials and entrepreneurs have been arrested this week in Spain. The Spaniards are shocked by the scandals but that won't change their behaviour at the ballot, the conservative daily Financial Times predicts: "The gulf between the right and the left is so deep that many voters seem ready to hold their nose and stick with their party despite corruption scandals. Crossing the left-right divide is, for many voters, simply not an option. ...Looking at the recent past, however, it is hard to escape a simple conclusion: Spanish voters are furious with their political leaders, and care deeply about the apparent wave of corruption cases - but often not quite enough to vote for the other guy." (29/10/2014)

La Stampa - Italy

Napolitano's Mafia-questioning a red herring

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was questioned on Tuesday in connection with the Palermo mafia trial centred on alleged agreements between the mafia and the Italian state in the 1990s. The hearing took place in Rome behind closed doors. The interrogation is a ruse by the state prosecutors to divert attention from the real inconsistencies in the trial, mafia expert Francesco La Licata complains in the liberal daily La Stampa: "All that has been gathered, put on file and published a thousand times has suddenly become 'Napolitano's truth'. As if the president were the only guardian of secrets that have finally been exposed. But is that really the case? Hardly. ... Nevertheless the trick of presenting Napolitano as the custodian of unspeakable truths has worked. It is diverting attention from the glaring inconsistencies in the trial, which have simply been written off as minor incidents in the 'rites of Palermo'." (30/10/2014)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Road toll still a mistake after modifications

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt of the CSU has revised his road toll plans and now wants to charge non-German residents only for using the country's motorways. The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung takes an amused look at what's left of the once ambitious plans: "The piquant aspect for the smallest governing party [the CSU] is that it was not the unloved social democrats who cut its showcase project down to size, but its sister party the CDU. [CSU chairman and Bavarian prime minister] Seehofer's squire [Dobrindt] can't ride into Munich as the glorious victor. Because even the most basic flaws in the toll have not been resolved: it brings in too little money and it stands a good chance of being copied in countries like Belgium or the Netherlands, where even some inhabitants of beautiful Bavaria may stray from time to time. And of course what's now emerged is an administrative framework which could be used later on to introduce a road toll that raises enough cash to remove more than just the political potholes - in any case then German drivers would also have to pay." (30/10/2014)


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Club Z - Bulgaria

Evgenii Dainov on Bulgaria's second transformation

Bulgaria has entered a new transitional phase since the start of the civil protests in 2012, political commentator Evgenii Dainov writes in the news portal Club Z. Today the idea is not to transform the totalitarian state into a democracy but to free the democracy from the mafia's grip, Dainov explains: "We're in the midst of a new transformation. Like the last one, this one will also take years - ten, if things continue at the present pace, six to seven if we're lucky. ... The good news is that the task ahead is easier than the one we faced 25 years ago. The healthy sections of society are far larger than the sick ones. ... The resistance is winning the fight step by step. When it began, the government held on for an entire term of office. Then three years, then one and a half, and now we have the present situation in which it seems impossible even to form a government. ... That's how things are in times of transformation, and that's how they will remain here until we've changed the system. ... There is no middle path: either the mafia is in charge or there is order and prosperity." (30/10/2014)


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Proto Thema - Greece

Greek employees far too selfish

For over a year 595 cleaners formerly employed at the Greek Ministry of Finance have been protesting because they were dismissed at the troika's behest. They want their jobs back, but only at their former place of work. An unsocial attitude, the liberal weekly Proto Thema writes in its online edition: "The cleaning ladies' logic is: Who cares if the neighbour's house is burning down. It's not my house. They are trying to defend only their own interests but expect all Greek society to back them. ... That's what the public sector is like in our country, and it would be a good thing if everyone understood that it's the employees who think that society owes them something. … And that they should be allowed to decide where and how they work and how much they get paid." (30/10/2014)

Radikal - Turkey

Turkey has not seen the end of mining disasters

Eighteen miners were buried deep underground when a shaft collapsed outside the southern Turkish town of Ermenek on Tuesday. There is little hope that they will survive. The accident is the result of an overly ambitious economic policy, the liberal Internet paper Radikal criticises: "The government has set itself the very ambitious goal of becoming one of the ten biggest economies by 2023. ... But we have neither oil nor gas. ... According to the government's strategic plan, more energy is to come from regional sources. Instead of focusing on renewable energy the emphasis has been placed on coal. The opening of new mines has been made easier and state-run mines have been privatised. The red tape is being minimised and the laws changed. ... In view of the rising production costs no one bothers about safety measures. It's clear that we can expect the number of mining fatalities to keep rising." (30/10/2014)

Trends Tendances - Belgium

Why Belgians don't care about climate protection

The EU's greenhouse gas emissions are expected to drop by 24 percent by 2020 compared with the reference year 1990, surpassing the target value of 20 percent, the European Environmental Agency announced on Tuesday. The liberal business magazine Trends Tendances explains why Belgium lies significantly below the European average: "Alarmist discourse doesn't work. ... The other drawback in mobilising a large number of citizens against climate change is that we're not facing a concrete enemy. There's no one we can point our finger at in the fight against the deterioration of our climate and say 'He (or she) is the problem'. ... Basically, the media advantage of the economic crisis over the climate crisis is that the economic crisis is here and now: it affects how much money I have in my pocket. This is a regrettable attitude, but it proves yet again that we are our own worst enemy." (29/10/2014)


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The Irish Times - Ireland

Prostitution ban only creates more problems

Northern Ireland's regional parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, passed a law that bans the purchase of sexual services last week. But this won't help the victims of human trafficking, the left-liberal daily The Irish Times criticises: "Even the most vulnerable sex workers - those who had been raped, beaten and pimped - were opposed to further criminalisation. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women strongly opposes criminal penalties against clients, stating that they 'not only threaten the effectiveness of anti-trafficking efforts, they often place sex workers at greater risk of violence and exploitation'. ...  It's a myth of moral purity that makes feminists and fundamentalists swell with pride while stopping their ears against the painful, inconvenient facts and the voices of those they claim they want to protect." (29/10/2014)

Kaleva - Finland

Church has no business at erotic trade fair

Two Finnish church congregations will take part in the Sexhibition erotic trade fair in Helsinki this weekend. The daily Kaleva asks what this is supposed to achieve: "It's understandable for the Church to justify this step by saying that it will go where people go. ... Yet this still raises the question of why it has to be at a sex industry trade fair. ... Will the clergy spread the good porno news and tell people that pornography is good for people's sexuality and partnerships? Or do the clergy believe that people will talk about faith and human souls at a place where people's genitalia are on display in all possible and impossible variations? That couples will have the courage to talk about their complex relationships or their sex lives at a sex trade fair of all places?" (30/10/2014)

Ouest France - France

Dead French protester a victim of the system

The 21-year-old student Rémi Fraisse died on the weekend during a demonstration against a planned dam in southern France. Protesters blame the law enforcement officers for his death. But the real reasons lie elsewhere, the regional daily Ouest-France writes: "Regardless of whether the issue at hand is the 'farm with a thousand cows' [a mass milking facility] in northern France, the dam near Sivens in the south or the reorganisation of air traffic near Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the question is always: how to combine individual freedom and collective interests? All three of these ulcers have only grown larger as a result of the dual protests against environmental risks and an economic model. ... In which instances, and through which procedures can one arbitrate between economic and environmental, local and general, individual and collective interests? ... Rémi died from the lack of an answer to these questions." (29/10/2014)

Večernji list - Croatia

Croatia's veterans plotting against government

Around 200 Croatian war veterans set up camp outside the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs eleven days ago and are demanding the resignation of the veterans' minister. They accuse his assistant of giving Croatian veterans the same status he gave Serb soldiers. The country's social democratic Prime Minister Zoran Milanović addressed the nation on this matter for the first time on Monday in an attempt to calm the situation. If the veterans reject this peace offer it will be clear what they really want, the conservative daily Večernji List comments: "The message is that he respects the veterans, appreciates their sacrifices and in no way questions their right to material assistance. ... With that he has made it clear that the veterans' status is not under threat. Now it is obvious that their protests are motivated by [party] politics. That's a legitimate cause. The veterans are naturally free to attempt to install a certain political option in government. But this should be expressed in elections. We'll be in deep trouble if this dispute is fought out on the streets." (30/10/2014)

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